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Taking Arts and Humanities research to market

Date: 27/08/2013

Following on from the success on the AHRC’s Follow-on Funding for Impact and Engagement Scheme, the AHRC are launching a Commercialisation highlight call which is designed to encourage entrepreneurial researchers from across the UK to find successful routes to market and develop the exploitation and commercialisation aspects of their research.

The Government’s formal response to the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee report, ‘Bridging the valley of death: improving the commercialisation of research’ highlighted the need to support the successful translation of research ideas, outcomes and outputs into products and services that benefit the UK economy and society.   This highlight call will support researchers within the arts and humanities alongside with industry partners and tech transfer/KE offices to develop commercial ideas and concepts to further the impact of the research.

One project based on arts and humanities research that has had commercial success is the videogame ‘Dear Esther’. This interactive ghost story game started life as an academic research project and end up as a successful commercial product. The researcher Dr Dan Pinchbeck wanted to engage the right audience for a discussion about the nature of narrative in videogames to do this he made a game. AHRC funding enabled the company established from the research project to fully commercialise their product. The remastered version supported with an additional $55,000 from the Indie Fund has since been developed and within six hours of its release over 16,000 units had been sold, allowing the developers to pay back the Fund’s investment. As of May 2012, over 100,000 units had been sold. 

Professor Rick Rylance, Chief Executive of the AHRC, stated “As we highlighted in our recent Strategy, arts and humanities research makes an enormous contribution to the life of the nation, tapping into a long tradition of engagement with key ideas that have shaped the contemporary world.  This highlight call will allow researchers to capitalise on the commercial potential of the excellent research that underpins these projects.”

Eligible activities may include:

  • initial stage feasibility testing or scoping studies to determine the realistic commercial potential of an idea including the IP position
  • seeking  and acquiring the relevant knowledge, skills and experiences to identify a clear commercial strategy for creating a new venture e.g. working with industry experts on the best commercial development strategies
  • exploration of potential routes to market including market research to determine likely potential, competitiveness and business opportunities
  • development of proof of concept or prototypes and user testing
  • seeking and developing contacts with business angels, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, business development agencies or exploring opportunities for joint ventures with interested parties

Ineligible activities;

  • Patent filing costs

Notes to editors

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