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HEFCE closed at the end of March 2018. The information on this website is historical and is no longer maintained.

Many of HEFCE's functions will be continued by the Office for Students, the new regulator of higher education in England, and Research England, the new council within UK Research and Innovation.

The HEFCE domain - - will continue to function until September 2018. At this point we will close the site entirely and all its information will only be available from the National Web Archive.


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HE and social innovation

Read the blog post

The fund

Social innovation aims to address and improve social outcomes for people through collaboration or co-creation.

The innovation may take place in the public, private or charitable sectors, or direct with user communities.

Our Social Innovation Fund supports six collaborative projects which were ‘co-created’ through a ‘sandpit’ event.   

Addressing social issues

The ‘sandpit’ was an event held over two and half days in January 2016, in association with the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE). 

It led to the creation of six pilot projects, all designed to take existing research and knowledge and apply it to a social issue. 

The sandpit set out to stimulate interest from academic and professional communities across the UK, and took the form of an intensive workshop to explore social innovation between sectors and organisations. 

Its activities helped attendees to collaborate, develop projects and pitch them to a funding panel on the final day. Input from external experts was carefully designed to stimulate ideas and project development.

The full call documentation can be found at the bottom of this page.


Tel: 0117 931 7183

How was the funding awarded?

The steps from application to award were:

  • Individuals applied to attend the sandpit through the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) via a designated web-portal. More information is available below.
  • A selection panel considered applications to attend against the criteria set out in the call document. The panel consisted of the sandpit mentors, HEFCE, NCCPE and other key stakeholders in order to ensure a mix of disciplines and experience. Up to 30 participants were identified to take part in the sandpit from the applications received.
  • Successful applicants were invited to attend the sandpit in January 2016
  • Teams were formed at the sandpit and pitches for funding were made at the end of the two and a half days.
  • Funding was allocated based on the pitches.
  • Successful teams were required to submit a formal proposal to HEFCE in February 2016 and subject to the proposal being accepted the funding was formally awarded.


Slides from the Social Innovation Sandpit Warm-Up Event on 23 October 2015

Download the Social_innovation_slides_23_10_15 as PDF (1,550 KB)

Page last updated 3 March 2016