The Vice Chancellor’s Awards schemes were established in 2016 to recognise and celebrate excellence in research impact and public engagement with research.

The Awards celebrate a broad range of research impact and engagement achievements among staff at all career stages, including professional staff.

The 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 and for research. Underpinning research has to be conducted from January 2000 to date with impact generated from August 2013 to date. For further guidance and information about the award categories, please do refer to the guidance document. The 2020 Award submission is now closed. 

Award categories and eligibility

Early career researcher

To exemplify the best of what Cambridge’s newer generations of researchers can achieve in impact and engagement. Eligible applicants or nominees will be PhD students, postdoctoral researchers, or research fellows. Applicants should show significant achievements in research impact and engagement, with the potential to become future champions for impact and public engagement with research. Award candidates have to be based at Cambridge University at the point of submission and underpinning research has to be associated with the University of Cambridge. 

Established researcher

For 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 underpinning research conducted at the University of Cambridge should be provided.

Professional services

To recognise the commitment of University professional services staff who have demonstrated excellence in working with researchers and academics to facilitate research impact and engagement. Current staff with Public Engagement and Impact in their job description are also eligible to apply.


To celebrate the often collaborative effort in impact/engagement activities, this award category welcomes application/nominations of teams and partnership activities. Teams can be composed of members from all career stages as well as external partners. Please note that this is the only award category that allows for more than one applicant/nominee.

Online and remote engagement - NEW for 2020!

To celebrate the successes of remote engagement and impact initiatives. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many projects were faced by severe challenges to come up with new and innovative ways to bridge the gap between research and its stakeholders without any physical contact. Applications/nominations can be made for current University of Cambridge PGR students, professional and academic staff (including both early career as well as established academics).

Scope of awards

We recognise that excellence in research impact and engagement spans a broad range of audiences and types of activity. Nominees 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:

  • Communication of research through a variety of media beyond the academic sphere;
  • Public engagement with research including, but not limited to, festivals, exhibitions, partnerships with arts, heritage and cultural organisations;
  • Engagement with policy-makers;
  • Engagement with business and industry collaborations;
  • Engagement with any other non-academic stakeholder group which creates social, economic and cultural impact from research;
  • Commercialisation of research through spin-outs and licensing;
  • Partnerships with public services including education, NHS, local government, government agencies, or other public bodies;

How to apply

Those eligible for an Award (please check Award categories for eligibility) may self-nominate or can be nominated by a University colleague. Nominations/applications may be submitted to more than one Award category where suitable.

Read the Guidance carefully before completing the correct Award Form.

Please read before making any application or nomination: Application guidance and further information

Please contact the Public Engagement Team with any queries or for advice on your application:


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

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.