Leeds Social Sciences Institute

ESRC Impact Acceleration Account Guidance 2019 – 2023

In this section:


The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has awarded the Leeds Social Sciences Institute (LSSI) funding through an Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) to support Leeds researchers in the social sciences to maximise the impact and influence of their research on non-academic beneficiaries and to foster non-academic stakeholder engagement. The IAA will support a comprehensive portfolio of activities and resources across the social science community which will maximise the potential for impact of social science research and contribute to economic and societal development regionally, nationally and internationally.

The ESRC award is worth £1.3m in total and runs from 1st April 2019 – 31st March 2023.

The ESRC IAA will allow us to build on the successful University funded IAA that the LSSI has coordinated since 2015.

The objectives of the IAA are:  

  1. To embed training and development opportunities and build capacity in impact-related skills and understanding.
  2. To coordinate and maximise support for social science impact activity to provide responsive, flexible funding for innovative social science impact projects, and allow researchers at all stages of career development to connect to external partners through KE and secondment opportunities.
  3. To build new and enhanced relations with partners in the industrial and business sectors and to diversify and strengthen relations with organisations in the third sector at regional, national and international levels.
  4. To embed the social science IAA within wider interdisciplinary institutional impact activities and programmes, including those aligned to EPSRC/NERC, the University Themes/Platforms and NEXUS Building.


IAA Impact Brochure

This brochure presents case studies and outputs from the IAA scheme managed by LSSI between 2015-2019. You can download and view the brochure here.

Funding Opportunities

Outlined below are the different funding strands associated with our IAA scheme. You can read about the strands by clicking on each bullet points.


In Addition, although they will not feature in open-calls, there is also funding to support direct activities relating to:

  • Internationalisation

A key objective of LSSI is to foster international research links and build collaborative partnerships with a view to enhancing research impact. The IAA will be utilised to further enhance this goal by supporting the development of strategic relations with partners around the globe. Notably connections have already been made with Institute for Social Science Research at the University of Queensland and with the Instituto de Investigaciones Gino Germani at the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina.

The IAA will be utilised to fund:
-Incoming and outgoing visiting fellows with partner institutions.
-The establishment of an International Advisory board
-To organise a collaborative international conference

If you would like to discuss this funding and opportunity further please contact Alison Lundbeck (A.Lundbeck@leeds.ac.uk).

  • Policy Engagement

The ESRC IAA allows us to deliver additional initiatives and activities in order to promote new relationships regionally, nationally and internationally. One of these initiatives is to further engage with public policy, and will allow for social scientist to engage with a variety of external partners, organisations and policy makers.

Our aim is to connect high quality social science research taking place inside the University, with the individuals and groups who can utilise the research to create real-world impact.

  • Researcher Engagement
  1. Collaborative Basecamps:
  • The aim of the basecamps is to create interdisciplinary teams with the goal of creating long-term shifts in attitude towards collaboration and the development of new cross-disciplinary research collaborations.
  • It aims to develop the competencies required to initiate and develop interdisciplinary working, knowledge exchange, entrepreneurial activity and creative thinking, as well as new challenge-led project ideas and research proposals.
  • The programme will consist of a series of three intensive full-day residential workshops, with 10-20 participants.
  • The first two workshops will be held off-campus and will be on consecutive days, including an overnight stay. The third workshop can be held on or off campus and can include external partners if applicable.
  • The basecamps will be centred around a particular theme or topic. If you have a suggestion, please contact Alison Lundbeck (A.Lundbeck@leeds.ac.uk).
  1. Innovation Forums:
  • These forums will bring together professionals and policy-makers in collaboration with researchers to identify and develop research questions, challenges and innovations.
  • The innovation forum will facilitate this multidisciplinary structure by fostering synergy between academia, industry and the public/third sector to coproduce innovative research and to accelerate the speed of impact for the benefit of wider society.
  • Each forum will be centred around a particular theme or topic – please contact Hannah Crow (H.E.Crow@leeds.ac.uk) if you have a topic suggestion.



If you would like to discuss activities relating to the three additional strands above, please contact IAA coordinator, Hannah Crow (H.E.Crow@leeds.ac.uk).




  1. Project proposals must align to the ESRC’s disciplinary remit (see Appendix 2)
  2. Applications are invited from any researcher active in the social sciences who at the point of application, hold a current contract of employment at the University of Leeds which will last the duration of the proposed activity for which IAA funding is applied for.
  3. Early career researchers (ECRs) who have an employment contract as described above are eligible to apply for funding from the IAA. PhD students are only eligible to apply for PGR Placement Scheme.
  4. Applications must be led by a named Principal Investigator (PI) within the University, and projects are expected to identify external partners as co-applicants (with named responsible individuals). ‘In kind’ or cash contributions are expected from the external partners where relevant. This may include the time commitments of named external co-applicants. PIs are encourage to provide approximate costings and value of such co-funding and a letter of support from the external partner(s) that itemises all such contributions.
  5. Other Universities can also be co-applicants to IAA bids but alone do not constitute external partners for the purpose of the IAA. We would expect co-funding from other HE institutions where they are involved in any application; this may take the form of co-funding with another IAA where relevant.
  6. Awards are not for the continuation of existing research, bridge-funding nor to keep research officers/assistants employed beyond the term of their contracts. Applications should focus on the development of impact activities and outputs not research itself (see s.4 below). Applications which read like research grant proposals redrafted for the IAA are unlikely to be successful. Applications should clearly define the development of prior findings and ideas towards impact. Careful thought should be given to the kinds of impacts that are intended, how these might be realised and who the key beneficiaries are expected to be. All applications will need well-considered ‘follow on’ plans as to longer-term developments beyond the funding period.
  7. Existing ESRC (and UKRI) grant holders are able to apply to the IAA, however, it in is not anticipated that the fund will support project specific activities which would normally be included in Pathways to Impact, unless good reasons are provided as to the emergence of new impact-related opportunities which might not have been easily identified at the time the original ESRC (or other UKRI) grant application was made.
  8. Projects should have the potential to deliver economic, cultural and /or societal benefit to organisations or citizens outside academia.

ESRC Expectations and Purpose

The ESRC IAA is not restricted to applications from individuals whose research is funded by the ESRC or other research councils.

The ESRC requires that the IAA funds are to be used flexibly and rapidly to support knowledge exchange and impact and should include substantive user engagement; for example:

  1. Building relationships and networks with potential users of research to facilitate co-production of research and maximise impact.
  2. Movement and secondment of people into and from external organisations and user stakeholders.
  3. Support for translation, application and utilisation of existing research findings to enhance their impact and to enable researchers to build networks with potential users of the outcomes of their research, and further work to establish proof of concept for their innovations.
  4. Improve engagement with the public sector, policy sector, civil society, industry (including SMEs and local business) and the public.

To ensure IAAs can be used to fund a diversity of knowledge exchange and impact activity, the following are ineligible for support through the IAA:

  1. Large ESRC investments (e.g. Centres, Large Grants, Infrastructure Investments).

New research – i.e. the collection and/or analysis of new data.

Eligible Costs

All IAA awards can only cover directly incurred costs associated with the award (i.e. do not cover Full Economic Costs), which may include the following:

  • Reasonable travel, accommodation and subsistence costs
  • Equipment/consumables
  • Salaries – To support existing non-academic staff already employed by the University of Leeds or to recruit new members of staff (on a fixed-term basis)
  • Other – such as registration costs at events, production of professional materials, room bookings, catering etc.

The following costs are not eligible:

  • Academic staff time
  • Estates and indirect costs
  • Building and refurbishment costs

Application & Award Process

Application and Award Process

 There will be up to four open Calls for Proposals per academic year. Please refer to the IAA Guidelines for full details of the assessment.

Funding Activity eligible at this call: Call Deadline Panel Date
·         Responsive Mode Impact Fund

·         Knowledge Exchange Fellowships

·         PGR Placements

·         Rapid Action Fund

Wednesday 6th March w/c 18th March
·         Responsive Mode Impact Fund

·         Knowledge Exchange Fellowships

·         PGR Placements

·         Rapid Action Fund

·         Public Engagement Fund

Wednesday 8th May w/c 20th May
·         Responsive Mode Impact Fund

·         Knowledge Exchange Fellowships

·         PGR Placements

·         Rapid Action Fund

Wednesday 11th September w/c 23rd September
·         Responsive Mode Impact Fund

·         Knowledge Exchange Fellowships

·         PGR Placements

·         Rapid Action Fund

·         Public Engagement Fund

Wednesday 13th November w/c 25th November

The IAA Coordinator will notify applicants of the award panel’s decision within 2 weeks of the IAA panel review, at which point successful applicants will be notified of the full terms and conditions of funding and reporting requirements (please see IAA Guideline for full details)
Completed forms should be submitted electronically to Hannah Crow, LSSI Coordinator, who will also be available to answer specific questions about the IAA funding that are not covered in the published criteria.

IAA Case Studies

This page includes a full list of projects that have received/are receiving funding from the Social Sciences Impact Acceleration Account or ESRC Impact Acceleration Account (2019-2023)

Responsive Mode Impact Fund

Knowledge Exchange Fellowships

PGR Placements

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