New UKRI funding model to ‘accelerate impact’ of research

The Impact Acceleration Account model, which is already used by several funding councils, has now been adopted by six of the seven UKRI research councils

A new UKRI funding model will “focus” investment on research with the potential to have the most impact, the funding agency said.

The Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) model, which is already used by several funding councils, has now been adopted by six of the seven UKRI research councils. These will accept bids from 6 July 2021, with final decisions announced in December.

The funder said the initiative would “help focus investment in areas where knowledge exchange, translation, adoption and commercialisation have the strongest potential”.

Universities will submit one application to UKRI on behalf of all or some departments – and the funding councils will independently assess applications, meaning universities could win funding from one, some or all of the participating councils. This approach follows the government plan to reduce bureaucratic burdens in research, innovation and higher education, the agency said.

What is important is that this new model is just the beginning of a journey of continual improvement for the IAA system and wider interactions between funding and research institutions
– Tony Soteriou, UKRI

“It’s essential that ground-breaking new ideas are identified and supported in the most efficient way to help them come to market or for their impact to be realised sooner,” said Tony Soteriou, director of commercialisation at UKRI, “and reducing the red tape to help achieve this aim will be a key part of the new model.”

Universities have the discretion to use the funding in “flexible, responsive and creative ways” – and it can be used in conjunction with other funding streams to maximise the knowledge exchange potential of a research base. The IAA funding is to “accelerate” the translation of research. It is to be used to build partnerships and relationships with policymakers and the private and third sectors, training staff, hiring specialist knowledge exchange teams and supporting “proof of concept” testing, vital to securing private sector funding for early stage research.

Said Soteriou: “What is important is that this new model is just the beginning of a journey of continual improvement for the IAA system and wider interactions between funding and research institutions.

“We will continue to look for opportunities to make the process as effective as possible to help translate support and investment into the practical application of research results for the benefit of UK industry and wider society.”


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