SHAPE Catalyst Launch Event Recording

Rewatch our launch event from 20 June 2023, take a closer look at the slide decks or dive into key details from the Q&A

Watch our event recording to learn more about the new ESRC/AHRC SHAPE Catalyst delivered by the ARC Accelerator.

The programme runs from 2023-2026 and is open to UK researchers from the social sciences, arts and humanities. It will support researchers within these disciplines to bring scalable and new products, processes, experiences and services to market.

Take a closer look at the ESRC/AHRC and ARC Accelerator slide decks here:

Key details from the Q&A

What could projects look like?
This is the first round of the ESRC/AHRC SHAPE Catalyst, but there are examples from the Aspect ARC Accelerator in the Case Studies section.

How much time does the SHAPE Catalyst take?
ARC Discover consists of two workshops with a total duration of 3.5h. ARC Launch consists of five sessions and takes around 15h. ARC Accelerate requires applicants to commit to a minimum of 3 days per week for the duration of the 6-month programme and includes time buyout (- how much of the budget you use for time buyout is up to you). Most of this time will be spent validating the venture idea, together with training sessions (40h+), homework and 1:1 support.

How does the time commitment during the ARC Accelerate stage correspond to the funding?
As we are asking for a minimum of 3 days per week commitment during ARC Accelerate, we expect the majority of the budget will go on salary costs for one or more people. Individuals and teams are both welcomed, and we are happy to discuss options for part time working or other issues.

What can the funding offered during the ARC Accelerate stage be used for?
Funding must be used for commercialisation activities, not further research. As well as salary costs to engage with the programme, this might include budget for market research or to develop a user interface for a product, for example.

Is the timeline around the four stages fixed or might different projects move through the process at different rates?
The timeline around the four stages is not fixed and projects can move along the ARC Pathway at their own rate. We know the timeline is tight for 2023 as we launched the SHAPE Catalyst mid-year, making it difficult to move through ARC Discover, ARC Launch and the first cohort of ARC Accelerate.

Do I need to go through the ARC Discover and ARC Launch stages to be allowed to apply to the funded ARC Accelerate stage?
The four ARC Pathway stages build on each other, so we recommend that interested researchers start their journey with ARC Discover and move along the ARC Pathway to be best placed to apply to the different stages. However, attendance of ARC Discover and ARC Launch is not mandatory and researchers can join at any stage.

The guidance states that applicants without PhD but with research or innovation experience are still eligible. What experience would be acceptable?
For eligibility for ESRC-led grants, please look at the ESRC Research Funding Guide. Though we don’t go into granular detail on what equivalent experience is because it varies from discipline to discipline. If you have specific concerns, please get in touch with the the ARC team (

What is the value of the Award during the ARC Accelerate stage?
Successful applicants will receive up to £62,500, with circa 80% fEC provided by ESRC, in line with its standard funding rules, to fund commercialisation activities.

I’m part of a team, can they attend?
We positively encourage teams, although we ask for one of them to be the lead person for point of contact. Some sessions are for the lead researcher only. This is because they involve other participants, and, out of fairness to the others, we want to keep the class size to a minimum. However, we are happy for the rest of the team to attend the rest of the sessions.

Does the impact of the venture need to be based in the UK or can the activities or impact be international?
Neither the impact nor the activities of the venture need to be based in the UK. However, the applicant needs to be based at an eligible UK research organisation.

Will there be any additional guidance for Technology Transfer Officers (TTOs)/Professional & Support Staff (PSS)?
Please visit the new Resources webpage to access our TTO/PSS handbook and further resources for academics and Professional & Support Staff.

If you have any other questions about the programme, please reach out via