New funding calls for engagement and impact activities across the social sciences, and support for very early career academics

Following the severe disruption to engagement and impact initiatives during 2020, the Division’s Research, Impact and Engagement (RIE) team is keen to support researchers as much as possible in rebuilding momentum in these activities.

As such, the Division is launching a range of new funding calls to support researchers in their knowledge exchange, engagement, and impact activities with a range of stakeholders, including industry collaborators, policymakers, and non-academic partner organisations.

These opportunities are outlined below, and further information can be found at each link. If you have any questions about these initiatives, please contact

To help you navigate these opportunities, each is followed by a series of 'tags' to help you identify which are relevant to you.

ESRC Impact Acceleration Account (IAA)

After a pause in activity during the COVID-19 restrictions, we are relaunching the stage-gated IAA funding programme, which is designed to support knowledge exchange and impact generation projects at all stages of development. To learn more about the funding programme visit the ESRC IAA homepage. The following schemes are currently open for applications:

Stage 1: KE Dialogues

The Knowledge Exchange (KE) Dialogues scheme is intended to provide small amounts of funding (up to £2,500) to bring together academics with external stakeholders (public, private, civil society) in meaningful and productive two-way discussions, to share knowledge, experiences and perspectives with the hope of developing longer term partnerships and engagement projects.

Continuous call with gathered field deadlines: 18 January 2021, 19 April 2021, 19 July 2021, 18 October 2021

Further information on Stage 1 

Stage 2: Kick-starting Impact Awards

These are small flexible grants (up to £10,000) which are intended to facilitate new KE projects. They may be used, for example, to fund pilot-scale projects or stakeholder engagement activities which lay the foundation for future collaborations or engage existing partners in new KE activities.

Deadlines: Hilary term: 5pm, 15 February 2021 and Trinity term: 5pm, 24 May 2021

Further information on Stage 2

Stage 3: Impact Acceleration Awards

Impact Acceleration Awards are intended for substantial KE projects which may be a continuation of a previous project or a new initiative and aim to drive activity that will encourage impact from excellent research. This funding (up to £25,000) is flexible and can cover a wide array of activities which have the potential to generate or accelerate research impact.

Deadlines: Hilary term: 5pm, 15 February 2021 and Trinity term: 5pm, 24 May 2021

Further information on Stage 3

Stage 4: Top-up Awards

Top-up Awards are intended to provide continuation funding (up to £10,000) where a project is going well, achieving and exceeding its outcomes and there is opportunity to achieve impact of demonstrably greater reach (with different partners, for example) or to deepen the impact and make it more sustainable.

Deadlines: Hilary term: 5pm, 15 February 2021 and Trinity term: 5pm, 24 May 2021

Further information on Stage 4

ESRC IAA Stages 1-4 tags: Knowledge exchange; Public engagement; Business engagement; Policy engagement; Impact; ECRs


Social Sciences Engagement Fellowships

This scheme enables social sciences researchers to spend funded time embedded with or visiting non-academic partners (outward), or for practitioners from those organisations to spend time embedded with a team/department at Oxford (inward). Funding (up to £25,000) supports staff time to enable the exchange of learning, ideas and experiences with partners to deliver mutually beneficial outcomes, impacts and ongoing partnerships.

Deadline: 5pm, 1 February 2021 for projects running March 2021 to 31 July 2021.

Further information about the Social Sciences Engagement Fellowships

Tags: Public engagement; Business engagement; Policy engagement, ECRs; Salary costs/buyout


ASPECT Social Science Innovation Fellowships

Are you our next innovation leader, who can deliver culture change and act as an ambassador for innovation at Oxford and externally?

These Innovation Fellowships (up to £5,000) aim to encourage a positive culture of innovation across Social Science at the University of Oxford in the areas of research commercialisation, business engagement and entrepreneurship.

Deadline: 5pm, 1 February 2021

Further information about the ASPEC Social Science Innovation Fellowships

Tags: Innovation; Commercialisation; Business engagement; Entrepreneurship; ECRs; Leadership; Culture change


Social Sciences Business Engagement Seed Fund

Seed funds (up to £2,500) are available to support social sciences researchers to build mutually beneficial partnerships with business-related external stakeholders (businesses, industry bodies, and not-for-profit organisations), with the aim of developing collaborations to advance the innovative application of social science research to address key business and industrial challenges.

Deadlines: 5pm, 1 February 2021 and 5pm, 29 March 2021 for projects running to 31 July 2021

Further information about the Business Engagement Seed Fund

Tags: Business engagement; Innovation


Accelerating Business Collaboration (ABC)

Small grants are available to enable early career researchers to engage with business via individual projects, and also to support placements for PhD students with business located in the UK.

Deadline: Applications are being considered on a rolling basis

Further information about Accelerating Business Collaboration funding

Tags: DPhils; ECRs; Placements; Business engagement


Research & Public Policy Partnership Scheme

This scheme, launched in association with the UK Civil Service Policy Profession, supports partnerships between researchers at Oxford and policymakers, in or outside the UK, that enable partners to improve public policy responses to COVID-19 – to mitigate impact, support recovery, or both – through sharing of evidence, experience and expertise. Awards up to £5,000.

Deadlines: 5pm on 1 February and 18 March 2021.

Further information about the Research & Public Policy Partnership Scheme

Tags: Policy engagement; ECRs


SSD Postdoctoral Fellowship

This scheme will provide funding for up to two 1-year Fellowships for very early career academics. The Fellowship will cover salary costs at 1FTE, research expenses and mentoring costs. The Fellow will have the opportunity to consolidate their publications, build networks, prepare funding applications and conduct some research (this divisional programme is similar to and supplements the ESRC Early Career Fellowships scheme). 

Deadline: 4pm on 23 March 2021

Further information about the SSD Postdoctoral Fellowship 

Tags: ECRs; Research; Mentoring