News Release

£118 million to accelerate UK bright ideas into global opportunities

AHRC funding for critical early-stage translation of UK research to transform public services and create new businesses and jobs

Grant and Award Announcement

UK Research and Innovation

The best, brightest and most disruptive ideas emerging from UK research organisations will benefit from £118 million funding to jumpstart knowledge exchange, translation and commercialisation.

The Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) supports critical early-stage translation of UK research to real impacts, transforming public services, creating new jobs, attracting private investment and forging new partnerships with business and charities.

Funding allows UK teams to unlock the value of their work, including early-stage commercialisation of new technologies and advancing changes to public policy and services such as NHS clinical practice.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), a government body responsible for delivering £8 billion research and innovation funding each year, is investing £118 million in the latest round of IAAs to translate research across 64 universities and research organisations.

The programme, now in its 10th year, provided early-stage support to projects that are now established global businesses.

Previous IAA success stories include autonomous vehicle software leader Oxbotica that spun out of University of Oxford research in 2014 and the leading haptics and hand-tracking firm Ultraleap.

Ultraleap founder and CEO Dr Tom Carter used IAA support to commercialise his PhD research at the University of Bristol.

The company, that pioneers touchless digital interaction, now has teams of more than 150 people across its UK, Europe and US locations and is working with major brands including PepsiCo.

Ultraleap CEO Dr Tom Carter said:

“Academic research and the priorities of start-up investors are different. To create a spin out company you need to bridge the gap between the two.

“Impact Acceleration Account funding allowed us to figure out our target market and build a business plan to complement the technology. This was key to raising funding and getting the company off the ground.”

UKRI Director of Commercialisation Tony Soteriou, said:

“The UK is home to some of the brightest, most innovative and creative research teams in the world.  They have the ideas and they have the entrepreneurial energy to create businesses and services that could turn sectors on their head.

“What they need, what every great commercial idea needs, is support in the critical early stages.  The Impact Acceleration Account is the catalyst that allows projects to grow to the next level, attracting investment, forging partnerships and creating jobs.

“The breadth of UKRI allows us to work right across the UK’s world-class research and innovation system to ensure it builds a green future, secures better health, ageing and wellbeing, tackles infections, and builds a secure and resilient world."

The £118 million IAA investment over three years focuses on maximising impact, knowledge exchange, translation, and commercialisation potential within research organisations.

An important feature of the scheme is that it empowers research organisations themselves to use the funding creatively and responsively to react to emerging opportunities.

UKRI Chief Executive Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser said:

"Research and innovation has the potential to improve people’s lives and livelihoods, rejuvenating communities across the UK and tackling global challenges. It is imperative that we harness that potential.

“The path between discovery and impact is not simple and so it is vital that we provide flexible support that allows talented people and teams, and world-class institutions to connect discovery to prosperity and public good.

“Our impact acceleration funding has a fantastic track-record in providing support that helps brilliant ideas become realities that make a real difference.”

The new Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) offers a UKRI-wide simplified model with a single application with centralised reporting and monitoring that aims to improve strategic planning.


Notes to editors:  


Media enquiries:  

Sophie Docker, UKRI press office:

About UK Research and Innovation   

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is the largest public funder of research and innovation in the UK, with a budget of around £8bn. It is composed of seven disciplinary research councils, Innovate UK and Research England.   

We operate across the whole country and work with our many partners in higher education, research organisations businesses, government, and charities.   

Our vision is for an outstanding research and innovation system in the UK that gives everyone the opportunity to contribute and to benefit, enriching lives locally, nationally and internationally.    

Our mission is to convene, catalyse and invest in close collaboration with others to build a thriving, inclusive research and innovation system that connects discovery to prosperity and public good. 



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