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In recognition of the often long lead time between research ‘discovery’ (research outcomes) and related impacts, the EPSRC has awarded Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) grants to universities since 2012, including the University of Oxford. The IAA provides support for activities that will reduce that lead time, and help to accelerate the impact (beyond academia) from past, current or future research that falls within EPSRC’s research areas.

Doctoral Impact Scheme

The University is operating a Doctoral Impact Scheme, funded by the EPSRC IAA, with the aim of supporting and encouraging new DPhil graduates to maximise the impact of their (or related) research beyond academia through engagement with non-academic partners in industry, healthcare, governmental agencies, local and regional government and other external organisations. 


To be eligible for the Doctoral Impact Fund, it is required that DPhil students will have submitted their thesis.  

DPhil students are eligible to apply for the scheme if:

  • their research is within EPSRC research areas (students do not need to have received EPSRC funding)
  • they have passed their Confirmation of Status examination
  • they are within two terms of submission of their thesis

Industry-funded students (e.g. iCASE or fully funded) need to seek confirmation of the intellectual property situation from Research Services, before considering an application.

This scheme cannot fund additional academic research. EPSRC-funded DPhil students who are interested in follow-on funding to support academic impact should refer to the EPSRC Doctoral Prize scheme.

Purpose and use of funding

Note: The maximum value and duration of projects may vary from that described in the guidance text, and applications will need to be in line with the details provided on the EPSRC IAA call webpage.

Awards can comprise up to six months’ salary (at the first point on the University salary scale 07S, including pension and NI contributions) and direct project support costs. Travel or accommodation costs may also be requested, depending on the location of the non-academic partner. It is expected that requested costs will not exceed £30k. Applications for awards of greater value are permitted, but must include an exceptionally strong and specific justification as to why the project could not be completed within the expected limit.

It is expected that the majority of the project will be spent at the external partner, but that a proportion of the project (e.g. the final 20%) will be spent at the University, writing up a project report and delivering a short webinar or similar, which may be used as exemplar case study material. However, projects that do not fit this schedule will be considered for funding, if such an arrangement can be justified in the application.

Project proposals should be very focussed, with the emphasis on creating impact (beyond academia) from the original DPhil project (or related research). Examples might include: transferring a method developed during the DPhil to an industrial setting, transferring knowledge to support the implementation of software into industry, or supporting a sector/governmental policy change.

Implications of the Covid-19 pandemic: Applicants should ensure they have factored in the impact of the Covid pandemic when they plan their projects, e.g. due to restrictions on people movement, or limited access to facilities or resources. Applicants will need to consider that non-academic partners may have limited time and funds to fully engage with IAA projects, and travel to partners outside the UK maybe challenging.

How to apply

IAA staff are happy to review and provide feedback on draft applications prior to final submission. Please submit your request at least three working days before the application deadline to

Applications should be made through the online Internal Research Awards Management System (IRAMS) which can be accessed using your Single Sign-On (SSO) details. Once you are logged in, please choose the correct scheme from the list to start your application. If required, IRAMS guidance in the form of quick reference guide (QRG) documents for applicants, departmental approvers and administrators can be found on the Research Support pages. Please note that some departments may have set an earlier internal deadline, so please check with your local research support team and prepare your application well in advance of the date advertised above. Applications must be reviewed online by departmental approvers and, where approved, submitted for review by the Partnerships Committee before the deadline.

Please note that submissions that clearly exceed the word limits indicated will not be considered.

Note on Letter of Support: To minimise time delays between the funding decision and project start, New Doctoral Impact applicants are advised to include a brief confirmation email from external partner of the intent to collaborate on the project. Applicants are advised to follow up with the partner details of what is agreed to ensure it is in line with the information provided in the application. If sourcing a confirmation email is likely to be challenging email If applicants wish to include a letter of support at the time of application, it should be uploaded as part of the case for support template in a single document. Separate documents will not be accepted by email at the time of application.

If assistance is required to identify an appropriate industrial partner, applicants should contact the relevant Technology Transfer Manager at Oxford University Innovation, the MPLS Innovation and Business Partnerships team or the MSD Business Development team for support.

Applications should be led by the supervisor, who must be an employee of the University for the duration of the project, and who will assume responsibility for ensuring that the award is used within the terms of the grant.

Supervisors will be required to clearly state the benefits for the awardee, and how they will support the awardee during the project. In addition to the supervisor, awardees should identify a ‘project mentor’ who is not the awardee’s line manager or supervisor and is, ideally, external to the University. The role of the mentor is to help extend awardees into areas that are less familiar to them, thus applications should detail what added value the mentor will bring to the awardee. Any potential conflicts of interest (for the supervisor, the project mentor and for the DPhil student) must be declared and a satisfactory management plan detailed in the application.

For queries regarding the Doctoral Impact Scheme please contact or call (2)82462.

For examples of funded Doctoral Impact Projects see DI1, DI2, DI3.

For outputs from Doctoral Impact Project DI1 see ‘UseLimeMortar’.

Assessment process

Applications will be assessed by a multi-disciplinary internal EPSRC IAA Partnerships panel with experience of realising impact from research. Applicants are urged to ensure that applications are written with clarity and a non-specialist audience in mind, and should be reassured that all applications are assessed in the strictest confidence.

Qualifying criteria

IAA grants cannot be used for:

  • New fundamental research or to develop tools exclusively for use in further academic research;
  • Impact activities that should already have been anticipated and supported through standard routes, e.g. impact activities costed as part of basic research proposals, CDTs.
  • Duplication of other sources of funding that can be used more appropriately for the impact activity within remit of Research Council, e.g. CLASP/IPS.
  • Direct subsidising of commercial R&D;
  • Projects not aligned with EPSRC’s research areas;
  • PI salary;
  • Undergraduate or postgraduate activities or training, or core PhD training including tuition, bench fees, or bursary;
  • Employment of PhD students. However, students may benefit by engaging with the IAA, and can be paid for limited work on the project, provided the department confirms student status has been suspended for the duration (regardless of source of studentship support);
  • Equipment with a value of £10,000 or more;
  • Estate costs or indirect costs;
  • Any costs relating to Intellectual Property protection including but not limited to registering, maintaining, or supporting patents or property rights;
  • Contributions to KTPs.

Quality assessment criteria (not listed in any priority order)

  • Potential scale of the impact - could be financial or social
  • Risk involved in the project - high risk not necessarily a negative if potential impact is large
  • Timescale to impact - will this project reduce the lead time to impact?
  • Likelihood of impact
  • Clarity of plan to achieve the project aims
  • Good value? Impact per £

Terms of employment

Doctoral Impact award holders will be employees of the University, not students, and therefore the affiliated department will need to issue a contract to the candidate once the offer of award is confirmed.

Overseas students are eligible to apply, providing they meet the eligibility criteria. In this event, visa arrangements may need to be considered as employment will be subject at all times to meeting the requirements of the UK Border Agency and the provision of original documentation to establish the right to work and remain in the UK in advance of the start date.

Updated April 2022