Major £5 million commercialisation boost for social sciences research

The University is to be a partner on a major £5 million project funded by Research England.

The funding will support ‘ASPECT’ (a social sciences platform for entrepreneurship, commercialisation and transformation), a pioneering collaboration to develop the commercial potential of social sciences.

Led by the London School of Economics and Political Science, ASPECT is a partnership which also includes The University of Manchester and the University of Sussex, alongside secondary partners the Universities of Oxford and Sheffield and business investors.

While the commercialisation pipeline for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) research is well established, research within the social sciences is commonly applied to policy makers, rather than the private sector. ASPECT seeks to redress this balance and will bring together the best social science ideas with top entrepreneurs to create new products and businesses which will both solve pressing social challenges and improve productivity.

ASPECT’s work will include an innovative approach piloted by Zinc, a new 'company builder' fund which plans to tackle big social issues, while at the same time creating investable businesses.

Dr Andrew James, Associate Dean Business Engagement and External Relations for Humanities, said: “ASPECT provides an exciting opportunity for leading Universities to share best practice in the diffusion and commercialisation of knowledge from the social sciences. An understanding of social and behavioural issues is critical to addressing the grand challenges that we face as a society.”

Solutions to any of the most important grand challenges facing our society, such as energy, the environment and urban living, depend upon understanding and influencing human behaviour. Not surprisingly they are also a rich source of business opportunities for the social sciences. ASPECT is a win-win which will enable us to put solutions onto a sustainable business basis, while addressing these fundamental issues.
Professor Luke Georghiou, Deputy President and Deputy Vice-Chancellor

The funding, which will last for three years, forms part of an allocation of £20 million to recipients of the Research England Connecting Capability Fund competition and forms part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy green paper. It supports universities in working together and with external partners to commercialise research, help deliver the strategy and share good practice and capacity.

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