Engagement and Impact Fund (EIF)
Purpose of the Scheme
The Engagement and Impact Fund (EIF – previously known as Impact Acceleration Fund - IAF) is designed to build and strengthen mutually beneficial relationships and collaboration with key external partners and deliver the benefits of SOAS research – thus generating additional impact from their research. EIF funding can be used for a broad set of activities and initiatives that improve engagement with key audiences and address the needs of external, non-academic stakeholders and enhance the benefits of SOAS research to a range of beneficiaries and end users across public and third sectors, businesses, local and community bodies and the wider public - in the UK, around the world, and particularly in our regions. Academics interested in testing new and innovative ideas for stronger engagement and impact are particularly welcome to apply.
The EIF is usually available once a year and is administered by the Research and Enterprise Office (REO) - please contact the Impact Officer if you would like more information.
Definition of Engagement and Impact
Engagement in research refer to the meaningful involvement of key stakeholders and audiences throughout the research process—from topic selection through design and conduct of research to dissemination of results. Public engagement describes the myriad of ways in which the activity and benefits of higher education and research can be shared with the public. Engagement is by definition a two-way process, involving interaction and listening, with the goal of generating mutual benefit.
Research impact is about making a difference. RCUK defines non-academic impact as “the demonstrable contribution that excellent research makes to society and the economy”; HEFCE, within the context of the REF (Research Excellence Framework) , define impact as “ an effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life, beyond academia”.
A key aspect of this definition of research impact is that impact must be demonstrable. It is not enough just to focus on activities and outputs that promote research impact, such as staging a conference or publishing a report. You must be able to provide evidence of research impact, for example, that it has been taken up and used by policymakers, and practitioners, and has led to improvements in services or business.
What Will the Scheme Support?
The scheme will support engagement that builds and strengthens relationships, and accelerates the impact being generated from research projects. This might involve building relationships to understand users’ needs and co-produce grant-proposals, supporting relationships between grants, and building and accelerating impact after a grant has ended. The EIF is not intended to underwrite conference organisation or other initiatives with a primarily academic audience.
Funding could be used for a range of activities, including (but not limited) to:
· A workshop or another type of initiative aimed at engaging with key potential users and audiences to develop demand-led, needs-based research projects and co-production of research with non-academic actors;
· Short term employment of a research assistant to survey key audiences and potential beneficiary groups to inform proposal;
· Short term employment of a research assistant to complete a stakeholder mapping and develop information and research dissemination materials and approaches that meet specific audiences’ requirements;
· Piloting new and original ideas and routes to engagement with key stakeholders (e.g. engaging with schools, libraries, diaspora groups; using innovative means such as storytelling, virtual reality, comics);
· Support the implementation of demand-led, outfacing events or activities, joint initiatives with partners and stakeholders with the potential to enhance the change or benefit generated by on-going or completed research – e.g. developing a policy brief for an external user, providing training to local organisations, working with key partners to implement key recommendations;
· A trip to the research area and/or participation in a key event to consolidate research impact once the research project is closed.
The maximum sum that can be requested in the EIF scheme for 2018/19 is £6,000. Funding will normally be for a period of up to one year. Please refer to the guidance that is issued every year when the EIF call opens or contact the Impact Officer for further information on available funds.
Requests for EIF funding should be submitted through Worktribe when the call for applications opens. Please watch out for announcements, refer to the EIF Guidance Notes or contact the Impact Officer should you want to know when the next call will be. All applications will be considered by a panel chaired by the Pro-Director for Research and Enterprise or delegate, with both internal and external members.
EIF applicants must demonstrate how their proposed project meets the following criteria:
· Proposals must clearly demonstrate a well-defined non-academic need for the work proposed;
· Evidence that the project will enable the applicant to support the development of strong and long-lasting engagement with key audiences – with a clear explanation of why these are key audiences;
· Evidence that the project will create new opportunities and/or allow testing of innovative approaches for generating and accelerating the benefits of the original research;
· Clear and measurable milestones and outcomes for the project;
· Demonstration of additionality – i.e. that the project does not duplicate activities that should be funded via other sources, whether external (grants) or internal (departmental or other budgets);
· Feasibility of the proposed timeline and budget.
Successful applicants will be required to submit a brief end of project report using a template provided by the REO by a date defined when successful applicants are notified.
If you would like to receive more information on the EIF, please contact the Impact Officer by email on firstname.lastname@example.org