Students Staff

6 April 2017

Help accelerate our impact – join our new IAA Challenge Labs

Filed under: Research impact — Communications Office @ 1:53 am

A series of Challenge Labs are taking place from this week thanks to support from the University’s ESRC Impact Acceleration Account (IAA).

The IAA Challenge Labs are aiming to respond to the Government’s announcement about the new Industry Strategy Challenge Fund, which will be delivered by UK Research and Innovation – which the Government wants to create to bring together the seven Research Councils, Innovate UK and the research and knowledge exchange functions of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

We spoke to Dorian Hayes from the Research and Enterprise Office about the the Challenge Labs and why researchers should get involved.

What are Challenge Labs and how do I get involved?

“The Essex IAA programme is holding a programme of themed and facilitated Lab events to bring together researchers, businesses and other organisations to explore key priorities and challenges in particular sectors; to develop innovative solutions based on the application of research in practice; and to create real-world projects to test those solutions.

“You can take part in these events by looking out for invitations (via Heads of Department, Directors of Research, and Impact) and signing up through the IAA email address:

“After our initial Challenge Lab on the Digital, Creative, and Cultural Industries on Thursday 6 April and Friday 7 April, the next event, focused on Robotics and Artificial Intelligence, will take place on Thursday 20 April and Friday 21 April. The event will involve a range of industry partners working in different aspects of the high-tech industries, and will explore not just the technical, but also the ethical, political, legal, and cultural implications of these new technologies. It is open to researchers from across all of the University’s faculties and departments. This opening pair of events will be followed by Labs later in the summer on Leading Edge Healthcare, and Big Data Analytics, as well as other sectors, to be confirmed.”

Why is the Government’s New Industrial Strategy important to researchers at Essex?

“In support of the publication of the Government’s new Industrial Strategy in a Green Paper in January 2017, a new Challenge Fund will offer a range of new funding opportunities to be delivered through Research Councils. The Industrial Strategy seeks to build on strengths and extend excellence into the future, increase productivity and drive growth across the whole of the UK, making the UK one of the most competitive places to grow a business.

“At Essex we’re responding positively to the Government consultation on the green paper by using new funds made available through our existing IAA to engage with the development of the Challenge Fund, and to work with our regional partners to highlight our strengths and pave the way for research and innovation collaborations. By participating in our Challenge Labs programme, you have a unique opportunity to influence and shape the University’s response to this new landscape of challenge-led funding for research and development, and to enhance the impact of your own research.”

What happens next?

Our first event takes place from Thursday to Friday, so watch this space for updates on the propositions and projects that emerge from this engagement with the digital and cultural sector, which will be supported by new IAA project funding. There is still time to sign up for our second event on 20-21 April by emailing or

After that stand by for the announcement of the next events in May-June.

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