New British Academy funding scheme supports innovation and cross-sector collaboration in the humanities and social sciences

25 Apr 2022

The British Academy has awarded £1.8 million in funding to 20 research projects focused on innovation and knowledge exchange between academic and non-academic environments.

Funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the British Academy’s Innovation Fellowships (Route A: Researcher-led) scheme provides funding and support for established UK-based researchers in the SHAPE disciplines (Social Sciences, Humanities and the Arts for People and the Economy). The scheme aims to facilitate partnerships between researchers and organisations and businesses in the creative and cultural, public, private and policy sectors to address challenges that require innovative approaches and solutions.

Each award is worth up to £120,000 and will enable researchers to work with a UK-based partner organisation on a specified policy or societal challenge for up to one year.

The Innovation Fellowships scheme has two routes: Route A (Researcher-led), which requires researchers to apply with a self-identified partner organisation; and Route B (Policy-led), through which applicants will work with one of the Academy’s named policy partners. The Route B awards will be announced later this year.

The Innovation Fellowships Route A projects include:

  • "When the Dust Settles: Exploring the Lived Experience of Refugee Families after Reunion" - Dr Maria Abranches, University of East Anglia, in partnership with Miss Amy Yvonne Lythgoe, (Together Now and Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit), North West Association of Directors of Children’s Services c/o Bolton Council
  • "Co-production in Policy and Practice to Address Criminal Exploitation in County Lines" – Dr Paul Andell, University of Suffolk, in partnership with Mrs Kelly Gray, Eastern Region Special Operations Unit
  • "Levelling up Through Talk: How do Oracy Skills Contribute to Social Mobility and Employability?" – Dr Arlene Holmes-Henderson, University of Oxford, in partnership with Ms Rebecca Earnshaw, Voice 21 Oracy
  • "Gaseous Domesticities: Learning from commercial cultural analysis to produce strategies to encourage domestic energy transition" – Dr Samuel Johnson-Schlee, London South Bank University, in partnership with Ms Cato Hunt, Space Doctors
  • "Enhancing Practice Around Reproductive Coercion within Reproductive Health Services" – Dr Pam Lowe, Aston University, in partnership with Dr Patricia Lohr, British Pregnancy Advisory Service
  • "Managing UK Flood Risk in a Changing Climate: What is the Government Trying to Achieve with its Policies and is There a Better Approach?" – Dr Andrew Russell, Queen Mary, University of London, in partnership with Mr Robert Allen, Policy Connect; Sayers and Partners.

Professor Simon Swain, the British Academy’s Vice-President for Research and Higher Education Policy, said:

“The Academy is extremely excited to launch this pilot Innovation Fellowships scheme, starting with the Route A awards. Through their partnerships with organisations and businesses, researchers in the SHAPE disciplines will demonstrate how essential their work is to finding solutions for contemporary challenges. As we have seen during the pandemic – whether it was data scientists mapping local virus infection rates against levels of poverty or linguists finding new ways to communicate vital government messaging to non-English speaking communities – innovation in the SHAPE disciplines can benefit our social, economic and individual wellbeing.

"The Innovation Fellows’ place-based partnerships will yield new insights, help address key challenges, foster knowledge transfer and individual skills development. The scheme will hopefully set an inspiring precedent and I look forward to seeing how the funded projects develop.”

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