The ESRC/AHRC SHAPE Catalyst in partnership with 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 Aspect Research Commercialisation (ARC) Accelerator, founded in 2019, transforms innovative SHAPE research into ventures to deliver impact at scale. ARC was previously open only to Aspect members as part of the Aspect offering, 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 the different opportunities for impact and discover the potential audiences for their research.

ARC Launch

Five interactive training sessions for researchers that want to create sustainable impact from research by using commercial activities and begin to define their plan. Participants get the chance to test their idea and explore routes to generating sustainable impact at scale.

ARC Accelerate

A 6-month accelerator 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

Still in design (opening in 2024). ARC Scale will focus on deal flow, team building and, where appropriate, fundraising. It is intended for researchers looking to scale up and aims to bridge the gap between market validation and incorporation.


Key dates

Application webinars
In our webinars, we will explain the application process, tell you what we are looking for and answer any open questions. Watch a recorded webinar or register for one of our upcoming sessions in the Workshops and Webinars section below. You can also register directly on Eventbrite!

ARC Pathway applications

ARC Discover
You can already sign up for ARC Discover 1 and ARC Discover 2 workshops held in 2023. New dates are released on an ongoing basis.
Sign up and find out more on the ARC Discover page

ARC Launch
You can also start applying to the next three ARC Launch cohorts, starting between September 2023 and February 2024. New dates are released every three months.
Apply and find out more on the ARC Launch page

ARC Accelerate
The first ARC Accelerate cohort starts in February 2024. Expressions of Interest are now closed. Applications for the second cohort will open in summer 2024.
Apply and find out more on the ARC Accelerate page

For TTOs (or equivalent)/Professional and Support Staff 

Join one of our webinars for TTOs/PSS to learn more about programme requirements (e.g., the level of TTO involvement) and training resources that can help you support SHAPE researchers within your organisation. Sign up directly on Eventbrite!
If you have any questions, email us at or join one of our informal, monthly drop-in sessions for TTOs/PSS.

Workshops and Webinars

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