Vice Chancellor’s Impact and Engagement Awards 2022 - guidance notes

The deadline for applications is Friday 26 August at 11.59pm

Award applicants are invited to attend the award ceremony and reception on the afternoon of Thursday 6 October. The Ceremony will take place in-person, further details will be shared with all the applicants. We ask that all applicants hold this date in their diary.

Before you start completing the application forms

  • The online applications must be filled in one session as they do not have a "save and return later" option. 
  • If you end your session without completing the form, you won't be able to return to it. 
  • Each answer is saved when you move to the next page pressing the right arrow button. 

We recommend looking at the PDF document of the applications so that you can prepare your answers and documents in advance. 

Only start filling the online form once you are ready to submit.

Please contact for any questions related to your application.

Scope and eligible activities

The Awards recognise outstanding achievement, innovation and creativity in impact and public engagement with research activity that has the potential to create significant economic, social and cultural impact from research, and engage broad publics, new stakeholders and/or underserved audiences.

For the purpose of the Awards, ‘impact’ is understood as:

        'An effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy  or services,
         health, the environment or quality of life, beyond academia.’

For the purpose of the award, we have adapted the National Coordinating Centre’s definition of public engagement to explicitly focus on public engagement with research.

        ‘ Public Engagement with Research describes the myriad of ways in which the activity and
          benefits of higher education and research can be shared with the public. Engagement is
          a two-way process, involving interaction and listening, with the goal of generating mutual benefit.’ 

Impact and engagement activities include, but are not limited to, an effect on, change or benefit to:

  • activity, attitude, awareness, behaviour, capacity, opportunity, performance, policy, practice, process or understanding

We welcome applications which: 

  • involve external stakeholders, beneficiaries, communities, constituencies, organisations or individuals 
  • are from any geographic location - locally, regionally, nationally or internationally
  • engage communities and stakeholders through festivals, exhibitions and performances
  • involve partnerships with arts, heritage and cultural organisations
  • engage with policy-makers
  • engage with business and industry collaborations
  • commercialise research through spin-outs and licensing
  • include research communication through a variety of media
  • have impact on curricula and teaching pedagogy which extend significantly beyond the University of Cambridge
  • involve partnerships with public services including the wider education sector and schools, NHS, local government, government agencies, and other public bodies.

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

Award categories and criteria

Early Career Researcher

Open to current University of Cambridge PhD students, postdoctoral researchers, and research fellows. Award candidates must be based at the University of Cambridge at the point of application. 

Established Academic

Open to current University of Cambridge academic and research staff (excluding PhD students, postdoctoral researchers, and research fellows who are encouraged to apply for the Early Career Researcher Award).

This category includes awards for both individual academics and for research teams.

Collaboration Award

Open to teams or partnerships between current University staff/students at all career stages and external partners.

Strong applications in these categories could highlight some of the following:

  • A strong relationship between high-quality engagement or generated impact, and underpinning research
  • Evidence of a collaborative approach between researcher and partners/stakeholders for mutual benefit
  • Evidence of the benefits, changes and/or effects of the engagement/impact to the research, researcher and/or publics
  • Demonstration of a reflective/evaluative approach by the researcher, noting how learning from the activity has been shared more widely
  • An active and leading role by the researcher in making impact and/or engagement happen

Impact and engagement activities must be strongly linked to research conducted at The University of Cambridge.

Professional Service Award

Open to current University of Cambridge professional support staff (including staff with Public Engagement and Impact in their job description).

Strong applications in this category could highlight some of the following:

  • Evidence of the benefits, changes and/or effects of the supported engagement/impact to research and internal researchers and external stakeholders/communities/partners
  • Evidence of a collaborative approach between professional staff, researchers and partners/stakeholders for mutual benefit
  • The reach and significance of the support and/or activities undertaken
  • Demonstration of a reflective/evaluative approach, noting how learning from the activity has been shared more widely
  • Demonstrated leadership in creating, adopting or supporting innovative approaches to impact and engagement activity.

College researchers and College professional staff are eligible to apply for all of these awards.

Application and Award process

  • Applications must be made using the appropriate online application form.
  • For any questions please contact Dr Selen Etingu-Breslaw by email:
  • Applications must be submitted no later than 11.59pm on Friday 26 August.
  • Applications can be made in multiple categories.
  • Applicants from previous award years are welcome to apply again with further developed projects. Previous award winners may apply again with new activities but will not be judged again on the same project.
  • Please submit a head shot of the applicant/team as well as some images/visualisations showcasing the project. These will be used for the award ceremony and any linked promotions of the event.
  • All applicants will be invited to an award ceremony and reception hosted by the Vice-Chancellor on the afternoon of 6 October 2022 where the winners will be announced. The venue is TBC. We ask applicants to hold this date in their diary.
  • Winners are asked to participate in University-wide and external communications related to these awards. All awardees and runner-ups will receive full coverage of their awarded work on our bespoke website. In addition, a short documentary and/or promotional material will be created on winning achievements. There may also be opportunities to present at the next Cambridge Festival.


Applications will be judged by an interdisciplinary panel including internal and external professional staff, academics and research users.

Further advice and support

Please contact Dr Selen Etingu-Breslaw with any queries or for advice on your application: