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Knowledge exchange and innovation funding

If you would like to explore opportunities to engage with people outside academia and develop collaborative projects, you could get knowledge exchange funding.

What is knowledge exchange?

Knowledge exchange (KE) is a process that connects you with communities beyond the university to exchange ideas, evidence and expertise. It emphasises a two-way exchange of learning and helps you use your knowledge to benefit society and the economy, bringing what you've learned back into the university.

Who it’s for

UCL academic staff working in any subject discipline and at any stage in their careers can apply for funding from our UKRI’s Impact Acceleration Accounts. Early career researchers are particularly encouraged to apply.

Professional services staff can also apply for Knowledge Exchange funding from UCL’s Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) allocation.

What projects could qualify

Your proposal will need to:

  • engage with non-academic users or collaborators, such as businesses, public sector services, charities or the wider public
  • show how you'll bring their input or expertise back into the project and UCL
  • show how your project will contribute to society or the economy
  • show how your project builds on your work at UCL
  • if applicable, show how it maximises the impact of research aligned with AHRC/EPSRC/STFC’s portfolios

Projects could include, among others: 

  • strengthening or exploring the development of a partnership
  • designing and delivering workshops or events where you’re working with non-academic collaborators
  • informing public policy

Further details on eligibility requirements can be found in our funding scheme guide (Word).

What funding is available

The funding for this scheme comes from four sources: AHRC, EPSRC and STFC Impact Acceleration Accounts, and the Higher Education Innovation Fund.

If you have an early-stage idea for a project, and want to explore its potential with a partner organisation, you can apply for up to £5,000 from any of these sources to help with this (stage 1). We’ll assess these applications using simplified criteria. This funding is aimed at those who are exploring knowledge exchange for the first time, in particular early career researchers.

If your proposed knowledge exchange project is more developed, you can apply for stage 2 funding up to £15,000 from any of these sources. For example, your project may be building on an existing collaboration or the success of a previous project.

If you’re unsure which stage your project is at, get in touch with the Knowledge Exchange team (knowledge.exchange@ucl.ac.uk) to discuss.

When to apply

You can apply between 28 July and close of business on 5 September 2022.

The Funding Committee will meet during the week starting 26 September (TBC) and you’ll find out if you’re successful the week after (that is, by 6 October).

You can decide the most suitable start date for your project, but the earliest you can start is 17 October for HEIF-funded projects, or 24 October for UKRI IAA projects. This is to allow us time to process the awards.

There will be another call later this year. Dates will be published here when confirmed.

Submissions received outside published call dates will not be considered.

How to apply

We'd encourage you to speak to the Knowledge Exchange team (knowledge.exchange@ucl.ac.uk) for advice on shaping your application and its eligibility. We strongly encourage you to do so at the earliest opportunity, irrespective of the stage of development of your project. 

  1. Read our funding scheme guide (Word) for advice on completing your application and details of the documents we’ll need to see. 
  2. Read our guide to using the web application form (Word), and what information you'll need to have to hand before starting.
  3. Fill in the web application form on our online portal. (You'll need your UCL login.)

After you’ve started to fill in the web application form, you can save and return to it as many times as you need before submitting. Note that only one person can access the form.

You can use the application template (Word) to share information with co-investigators or other colleagues if this is helpful. But applications must be submitted via the web application form (emailed applications will not be accepted).

If you have any feedback on the web form, please send it to knowledge.exchange@ucl.ac.uk so we can improve the process.

After you apply

  1. Your proposal will be assessed by the Knowledge Exchange team to assess its eligibility and make sure it matches the funding criteria.
  2. If it does, members of innovation-engaged UCL staff will review it. Your application will be assessed on its suitability for the scheme, feasibility, and potential for impact.
  3. For applications over £15,000, the UCL Innovation & Enterprise Funding Committee will consider the application and make a recommendation to the Executive Director, UCL Innovation & Enterprise on whether to award or decline. They will make the final decision. For applications up to £15,000, the Knowledge Exchange team will make the final decision. The same criteria are applied in both cases.

Funding sources

  • Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) 2022-25
  • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) 2022-25
  • Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) 2022-25
  • Research England, Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF)

Case study

Onya McCausland, Five Colours, Five Landscapes, 2018 © Onya McCausland and University College London. Photo by Anna Betts
Creating paints from coal waste: the arts and sciences join forces at UCL

When Onya McCausland visited a former coalfield in Lancashire, she found both a source of materials for her paintings and a potential business idea.