The ESRC/AHRC SHAPE Catalyst delivered by ARC

The new Social sciences, Humanities and Arts for People and the Economy (SHAPE) Catalyst is a £3.9 million programme delivered by the ARC Accelerator. It runs from 2023-2026 and is open to individuals or teams from UK research organisations.

Learn more

Key details

The ESRC/AHRC SHAPE Catalyst is delivered in partnership with the ARC Accelerator, who will help participants build ventures from their research and deliver impact at scale. The programme is open to UK researchers from the social sciences, arts and humanities and will support them to develop and bring new products, processes and services to market. 

What is SHAPE and what is a SHAPE venture?

SHAPE stands for Social sciences, Humanities and Arts for People and the Economy and is a collective name for the social sciences, humanities and the arts. The British Academy’s SHAPE hub explains the term’s history. A SHAPE venture is one where the product or service is primarily built on SHAPE research. You can find examples in this article and in our Case Studies section.

Eligibility and suitability

Applicants must have a PhD or similar research or innovation experience and be based at an eligible UK research organisation (for more information, visit the ESRC research funding guide). We are looking for innovative and ambitious ideas from SHAPE disciplines that can sustain economic or non-economic impact through the commercialisation of research.


The ARC Accelerator

The ARC Accelerator, founded in 2019, transforms innovative SHAPE research into ventures to deliver impact at scale. ARC was previously open only to Aspect members, but it is now open to researchers from all UK research organisations. 

Between 2023-2026, the ARC Accelerator is delivering the ESRC/AHRC SHAPE Catalyst through their 4-stage programme, the ARC Pathway, consisting of ARC Discover, ARC Launch, ARC Accelerate and ARC Scale.

The ARC Pathway is designed to guide researchers from the social sciences, arts and humanities on their commercialisation journey. The four stages build on each other, so we highly recommend that interested researchers start their journey with ARC Discover and move along the ARC Pathway to be best placed to apply to the next stages.

Click here for an ARC Pathway overview!

The ARC Pathway

ARC Discover

Two brief, virtual workshops for researchers seeking to create legacy and impact from their research. Participants get to explore different paths to impact, including commercialisation, and discover potential audiences for their research.

ARC Launch

Five interactive training sessions for researchers looking to explore commercialisation basics and determine their next steps. Participants get the chance to test their idea and explore routes to generating sustainable impact at scale.

ARC Accelerate

A 6-month programme with time buyout that enables researchers committed to commercialisation to fully validate and develop their venture idea. It offers a unique package of financial support, expert-led training and dedicated mentors to help participants build ventures from their research and deliver impact at scale.

ARC Scale

Opening in 2024. ARC Scale is intended for researchers looking to spin out, who have already sold work or fully validated their venture idea. Participants will be paired with a mentor with similar experience to their venture and focus on building a team, business and fundraising. 


Application details

ARC Pathway

ARC Discover

  • There is no formal application process
  • Academics and TTOs/Professional & Support Staff can sign up via the form on the ARC Discover page
  • New workshop dates are made available every few weeks

ARC Launch

  • Fill out our short application form on the ARC Launch page
  • New cohort dates are made available every three months

ARC Accelerate

  • Applications for the next cohort will open in late Spring/early Summer 2024
  • Find out more on the ARC Accelerate page

ARC Scale

  • Still in design, with further details available in 2024

Application webinars

In these webinars, we explain the application process, tell you what we are looking for and answer any open questions. Watch a webinar recording in the Workshops and Webinars section below or visit our Resources page for more application support.

For TTOs/Professional & Support Staff 

We have a range of resources to support TTOs and Professional & Support Staff. Our handbook for TTOs/PSS, comms pack and more can be found on our Resources page. You can also watch a recording of our webinars for TTOs/PSS in the Workshops and Webinars section below.

If you have any questions, please email us at or join one of our informal, monthly drop-in sessions!

Workshops and Webinars

Join our newsletter

Get the latest news and updates from the ARC Accelerator straight to your inbox!

Sign up to the ARC Newsletter

News and Events