Illustration of three colourful stars on a dark background

The Vice-Chancellor's Awards for Research Impact and Engagement 2021

These awards recognise outstanding achievement, innovation and creativity in devising and implementing ambitious engagement and impact plans which have the potential to create significant economic, social and cultural impact from, and engagement with, research.

Please refer to the guidance notes for further information.
The applications closed on 15 June 2021.

Awards winners will be announced at a celebration event on the afternoon of 7 October at Old Schools (within COVID-19 restrictions set at the time). We ask that all applicants hold this date in their diary.

Award categories and eligibility

Early career researcher

This category exemplifies the best of what Cambridge’s newer generations of researchers can achieve in impact and engagement. Open to PhD students, postdoctoral researchers, or research fellows, applicants must show significant achievements in research impact and engagement with the potential to become future champions in these areas. Candidates must be based at the University of Cambridge University at the point of submission and a strong link to research conducted at the University must be evidenced.

Established academic

Open to academic staff (excluding PhD students, postdoctoral researchers, and research fellows) who have demonstrated excellence in impact and engagement as an integral part of their research career. A strong link to research conducted at the University of Cambridge must be evidenced.

Professional services staff

This award recognises the commitment and excellence of University professional services staff in facilitating and supporting researchers and academics in research impact and engagement activities. Staff with Public Engagement and Impact in their job description are also eligible to apply. 

Collaboration award

This category welcomes applications from teams and partnerships engaged in impact and engagement activity. Teams can be composed of members from all career stages and external partners. A strong link to research conducted at the University of Cambridge must be evidenced. Please note this is the only award category where multiple applicants can apply.

Note: Underpinning research must be conducted from January 2000 to date with impact and engagement generated from August 2013 to date.


Scope of the awards

We recognise that excellence in research impact and engagement spans a broad range of audiences and types of activity. Applicants are encouraged to include the full breadth of their impact and engagement activity in their submission.

Engaging stakeholders and beneficiaries in original and inventive ways helps reach new audiences. We encourage applications which can demonstrate either impactful long-term collaborations or imaginative approaches that have secured the participation of new beneficiaries and partners.

Award categories are open for individuals only with the exception of the Collaboration Award which celebrates the value of teams and partnerships in impact and engagement activities.

For the purposes of the awards, research impact and engagement activity may include any of the below:

  • activity, attitude, awareness, behaviour, capacity, opportunity, performance, policy, practice, process or understanding
  • a stakeholder, audience, beneficiary, community, constituency, organisation or individuals
  • any geographic location whether locally, regionally, nationally or internationally
  • the reduction or prevention of harm, risk, cost or other negative effects
  • major impacts on curricula and teaching pedagogy which extend significantly beyond the University of Cambridge
  • research communication through a variety of media
  • engagement with research through festivals, exhibitions, performances, partnerships with arts, heritage and cultural and community organisations
  • engagement with policy-makers
  • engagement through business and industry collaborations
  • engagement with any other non-academic stakeholder group which has potential for social, economic and/or cultural impact
  • commercialisation of research through spin-outs and licensing
  • partnerships with public services including the wider education sector and schools, NHS, local government, government agencies, and other public bodie

Impact on research or the advancement of academic knowledge within the higher education sector (whether in the UK or internationally) is excluded.

​How to apply

Applications closed on 15 June 2021. All applicants will be notified about the outcome of their submission by Early September 2021.

Please contact Dr Selen Etingu-Breslaw for any queries:


Vice-Chancellor's Public Engagement with Research Awards 2016-2019

Read about the 2020 Research Impact and Engagement Award winners

Read about the 2019 Research Impact and Engagement Award winners

Read about the 2018 Public Engagement with Research Award winners.

Read about the 2017 Public Engagement with Research Award winners.

Read about the 2016 Public Engagement with Research Award winners.