£118m to accelerate UK bright ideas into global opportunities

The University of Kent has been awarded significant funding from the UKRI Impact Acceleration Accounts (IAAs) to improve and accelerate the translation of research to real impacts, transforming public services, creating new jobs, attracting private investment and forging new partnerships with business and charities.

The University has been awarded three separate Impact Acceleration Accounts (IAA) from the most recent funding round. The IAAs are worth £850,000 and have been provided by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC; 3 years ; £450,000), Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council (BBSRC; 1 year Pathfinder; £100,000) and Medical Research Council (MRC; 3 years; £300,000).  The University is providing over £240,000 of matched support to facilitate these activities.

The Kent awards are part of £118m of funding announced by UKRI over three years across 64 organisations, focusing on maximising impact, knowledge exchange, translation, and commercialisation potential within research organisations. The IAAs empower research organisations to use the funding creatively and responsively to react to emerging opportunities.

The University’s IAAs will be led by Dr Helen Brooks (AHRC), Dr Tobias von der Haar (BBSRC) and Professor Michelle Garrett (MRC).

Helen says: ‘As a world-leading institution for Arts and Humanities research, we are delighted to have been awarded a full 3-year £450,000 Impact Accelerator Award from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Through the IAA we will be working with key stakeholders around the multidisciplinary themes of ‘Health and Wellbeing’, ‘Histories and Heritage’ and ‘Society and Environment’. This will enable us to deliver tangible benefits for a range of beneficiaries both in our immediate region and beyond. It is particularly exciting to be able to announce this award after our stellar results in REF2021 which evidence our international leadership in impact and knowledge exchange around these three important themes.’

Tobias says: “Following on from the recent recognition in REF2021 that BBSRC-facing research at Kent produces a very high proportion of world-leading impact, the award of a BBSRC Impact Acceleration Account will enable us to further build on this strong base by providing improved training and project support. This will strengthen strategic projects, and will enable new researchers from all career stages , as well as new external partners, to join our impact and innovation pipeline.”

Michelle says: “Kent is delighted to be the recipient of an MRC Impact Acceleration Account (IAA). We will use this award to build on Kent’s strong foundation in biomedical and clinical research, to enable a step change in the activity and impact of our translational research pipeline. Knowledge exchange is key to this and the IAA will also allow us to grow our current network of health sector stakeholders, to support and deliver innovative translational research that will benefit human health.”

The aim of the award is to fund a number of projects to speed up the transition from early discovery research to translational development projects. It will do this by funding work to generate sufficient data to establish the viability of an approach and to rapidly de-risk projects across the whole translational pathway so that they become competitive for substantial funding bids. These projects will be led by the University of Kent but should involve external stakeholders, for example from industry and/or clinical sectors . This is central to the MRC mission, which is to ensure that fundamental science is translated into new therapies, diagnostics, applications and medical devices to improve human health.