AHRC Design Accelerators – Future Observatory

Closing Date: 03/10/2024

Funding available to undertake design-led solutions to address the climate crisis or net zero goals.

Design Accelerators are small scale, reactive projects that are designed to support engagement between design research and innovation projects and diverse private, public and third sector organisations, local communities, and the general public.

Design Accelerators should intend to:

  • Demonstrate how the design research and innovation at universities throughout the country is vital for their local communities’ successful transition to net zero and a green economy.
  • Speed up the implementation of outputs by developing them with key local stakeholders.
  • Increase the diversity of voices and actors consulted in and contributing to addressing the climate crisis.

As part of AHRC’s new £25 million programme, Future Observatory: Design the Green Transition, the Design Accelerator awards are an opportunity to continue this work and to close the gap between climate-positive design research and its application in real-world scenarios. With multiple regions in all devolved nations of the UK represented, this will support AHRC’s developing Commercialisation strategy and embed the UK Research and Development Roadmap’s objective to “ensure that more parts of the UK are attractive to private investment – including from overseas – to unlock their full potential for R&D growth”.

Future Observatory is a new national programme of research, debate, and training to show how design research can drive Britain’s future prosperity.

With a dedicated team and using the Design Museum as its hub, the programme brings design researchers together with the partners who can help them have an impact on achieving the nation’s environmental goals. Using design as its engine, this major programme aims to set the agenda for social and technological change in Britain. Future Observatory will act as the engagement hub for the programme, providing opportunities for showcasing research, running events for award holders as well as networking opportunities and the chance to help shape the conversation around the UK’s green transition.

In collaboration with Future Observatory, the programme’s engagement centre based at the Design Museum, funding will be provided to support engagement between design research and innovation projects and diverse private, public, and third sector organisations, local communities, and the general public to:

  • Identify effective routes to commercialisation and adoption through targeted demonstration of high-quality design research and innovation.
  • Promote green transition-supportive behaviour change, either through deliberative policy making and (de)regulation or through “nudging”.
  • Highlight the value of academic design research in addressing real-world, locally relevant challenges arising along the journey to net zero and a green economy.

Design Accelerators may focus on supporting any engagement activity with local stakeholders that will support progress towards green transition goals, including but not limited to:

  • A short-term series of workshops or seminars.
  • Networking activities.
  • Outreach activities that encourage and enable researchers to involve individuals or organisations outside of academic research in the discussion and development of ideas.
  • Community-based product testing.
  • Community engagement coordinating role or activity.

The duration of awards will be up to nine months and projects must start by 1 February 2025.

Funding body Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Maximum value £65,000
Reference ID S26397
Category Arts and Humanities
Natural Environment
Fund or call Fund