Humanities Innovation Week

From idea to innovation: humanities impact at scale

Have you got an innovative idea with its roots in arts and humanities expertise or research? Perhaps you’re hoping to develop a service, product, tool, social enterprise, business, consultancy, or creative innovation?

Want to learn more about how to make your idea a reality? Interested in meeting like-minded researchers and getting some tailored support?

In partnership with the School of Arts and Humanities, Cambridge Enterprise is pleased to announce the 2020 Humanities Innovation Week challenge—22 September to 2 October!

The Competition

Bring your innovative ideas for a streamlined week-long challenge, including training and mentoring. There is a £5000 prize fund to help get the most exciting ideas off the ground. Your idea doesn’t need to be fully formed, but it should be something you care about, believe in, and which has clear benefits outside of the University.

We’ve designed the challenge to be flexible, with training delivered online, recorded for playback, and mentoring scheduled to suit you. You are welcome to attend as much of the programme as you wish, whether or not you intend to submit your project proposal to our judging panel at the end of the challenge.

    • What are we looking for?

      We’re looking for meaningful innovations which leverage humanities expertise, methods or research, and have a clear mission to make an impact outside of academia. The competition is not designed to develop one-off events. We’re looking instead to nurture projects which, with time and investment, could achieve a long-lasting impact.

      For example, entries could be a commercial product; a creative or educational innovation such as a game, experience or resource; a consultancy for business, government or the third sector; a social venture; a novel platform for research dissemination or public engagement; a research-based digital tool, or an intervention which could improve lives for individuals, organisations or communities. The real impact and innovative nature of the project should be clear, and could be local, regional, national or global in scale!

    • How it works

      22 September: Innovation Week Launch Webinar (link)

      Meet the trainers and get inspired by case studies of humanities research innovation

      23 September: Design Thinking for Humanities Researchers (link)

      Dr Simon Pulman-Jones is an expert in human-centred design. A social anthropologist by training, Simon is an experienced trainer and mentor for research-led innovation projects.

      24 September: Business Models for Innovation and Impact (link)

      Ludo Chapman, business strategist and founder of The Innovation Practice, will provide an introduction to how to create sustainable models for research-based products and services.

      28 September: Workshop discussion – peer review (link)

      Meet informally with other participants and have a chance to hone your ideas and get peer feedback

      29 September: submit your idea by 12pm

      Download a project proposal form and send it across to by 12pm. Judging will take place over the week with the winner announced on Friday 2 October. 

    • Eligibility and competition rules

      The challenge is open to individuals or teams.

      At least one member of a team should be a Cambridge academic, researcher, academic-related staff or PhD student from an arts or humanities discipline (based in any college or department of the University). College staff and teaching-only staff are eligible.

      Teams can include staff (including non-academic staff), students and collaborators outside of the University.

      Please feel free to check with us if you’re not sure about eligibility.

    • Project type

      The project can be brand new, or something that you’ve been working on for a while. The sessions aim to help you design, refine and flesh out your idea.

      The idea must be your own. You must have permission to enter the challenge from anyone else who might have a stake in it, such as a research supervisor or collaborator.

      You can take a look at the AHRC subject remit guide if you want to get a sense of the scope of arts and humanities, though our aim is to be inclusive.

    • Prize fund

      An award fund of £5000 will be split between the most exciting projects. This money can be used to progress the projects. Non-exhaustive examples of eligible activities include paying for technical or creative development work, help with trademark costs, travel to meet with beneficiaries, customers or stakeholders, costs of legal fees and advice for creating an entity such as a business or social enterprise.

      For more details, please feel free to contact

    • Intellectual property and confidentiality

      Any intellectual property created during the project will be managed according to the University’s IP Policy.

      If you have questions or concerns about confidentiality or how to protect your idea, we will provide you with specific advice. We expect to publish non-confidential short case studies about the winning projects in Cambridge Enterprise and University publications.