Social sciences have a central role to play in contributing to the UK economy and society, and the challenges set out in the industrial strategy. UKRI through the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Research England have a range of mechanisms to help deliver benefits from social science, including support for commercialisation;
- ESRC funding for impact activities from research projects can be requested via their “Pathways to Impact”. (Data from ResearchFish shows that 29 spinouts from ESRC funding have been registered with Companies House between 2010 and 2017.)
- ESRC also funds Impact Acceleration Accounts (IAAs) at 25 universities to accelerate the impact of research.
- Research England support via Higher Education Innovation Funding (HEIF) (currently £210 million per year) for English universities for a range of knowledge exchange activities. Each institution decides how to deploy this according to their own strategic priorities, some will support commercialisation of social sciences.
- Research England has also awarded £5m from the Connecting Capability Fund to London School of Economics, in partnership with the Universities of Manchester and Sussex, for “ASPECT” (A Social sciences Platform for Entrepreneurship, Commercialisation and Transformation) to develop a “globally leading social sciences commercialisation ecosystem.” This expects to create new companies to improve productivity and solve the most pressing social challenges.
In addition, a number of calls announced in Wave 2 of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund have included and embedded social science, and UKRI will ensure that there are opportunities for social science to contribute to solving the ambitious challenges set out in the Fund.