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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

All UCL staff can apply, including academic, research and professional services staff from any department.

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
  • show how your project maximises the impact of EPSRC- or STFC-funded research (if relevant)

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

There are three sources of funds, each with different maximum available amounts and date restrictions. If your project is linked to EPSRC or STFC-funded research, you should apply for the corresponding Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) funds. If not, you should apply for HEIF funding.

For the following funding sources:

  • EPSRC IAA: You can apply for up to £30,000 for projects lasting up to 12 months
  • STFC IAA: You can apply for up to £20,000 for projects ending no later than 31 March 2021
  • HEIF: You can apply for up to £15,000 for projects lasting up to 12 months.

All EPSRC IAA projects must end by 31 March 2022. There will be no possibility of extension past this end date.

Please note that we can currently only guarantee HEIF funding up to 31 July 2021. If your project will end after this date, you can still apply for funding the full 12 months, but please plan an interim milestone that you can report on in the unlikely event that we do not receive HEIF funds for 2021/22.

When to apply

Applications are currently closed.

The next call for applications will likely be from 4 to 22 January 2021. This will be for projects starting on or after 22 March (HEIF and STFC IAA) and 5 April (EPSRC IAA). These dates are tentative and may change closer to the time. HEIF and STFC IAA funds are more limited and subject to availability.

Further calls will be announced in due course.

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 but 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, at least three 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 Vice-Provost (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

  • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) 2020-21
  • Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) 2020
  • 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.