University of Sheffield to join new £5 million social science commercialisation platform

The University of Sheffield will become a founding partner in a new £5m consortium, set up to promote business engagement and entrepreneurship focused on social science research.

ICOSSThe funding, part of Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund, will support ASPECT (A social sciences platform for entrepreneurship, commercialisation and transformation) – a pioneering collaboration between leading universities and businesses to develop the commercial potential of social sciences.

ASPECT will bring together the best social science ideas with leading businesses and entrepreneurs to create new products and businesses which will solve pressing social challenges and improve productivity, a key aim of the UK Government’s recent Industrial Strategy.

The social sciences have traditionally lagged behind STEM disciplines when it comes to industry engagement and commercialisation - with research more commonly applied to policy and civil society, rather than the private sector. ASPECT seeks to re-address this balance.

Led by the London School of Economics and Political Science, the ASPECT consortium will include the Universities of Manchester, Sussex, Sheffield and Oxford, alongside business partners and investors. Over time, the ambition is to broaden the partnership to an increasing number of HEI and businesses.

Commenting on the creation of ASPECT, Professor James Wilsdon, Director of Research and Innovation for the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Sheffield, said: “Industrial strategy in an economy such as the UK’s, which is 79 per cent services, needs the social and behavioural sciences. As various reviews have highlighted, we need more social scientists to engage with commercial opportunities to apply their research. We need to do more to build alliances with the companies and sectors that rely on our expertise.

“The ASPECT platform is a huge opportunity to ensure social science contributes to the UK’s industrial strategy and to tackling our productivity crisis. It will quickly become a hub of best practice, building networks and capacity for business engagement across the social sciences.”

Additional information

The University of Sheffield

With almost 29,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2018 and for the last eight years has been ranked in the top five UK universities for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education.

Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.


For further information please contact:

Hannah Postles
Media Relations Officer
The University of Sheffield
0114 222 1046