LSE Innovation Challenge

Could your research help SHAPE the world?

If the answer is yes, or you’re keen to explore the possibilities of your research's positive impact, why not take up the LSE Innovation Challenge.

The LSE Innovation Challenge provides an opportunity to explore, identify, test and implement models for the delivery of sustainable impact at scale.

The LSE SHAPE the World Innovation Challenge is a call for LSE faculty and academic researchers to submit ideas based on their research to help meet the challenges faced by the world outside of academia.

We consider innovation in SHAPE disciplines (i.e. Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts for the People and Economy ) as new ideas, processes and products developed from research that deliver impact through the achievement of better outcomes. We expect that those types of outcomes are both scalable and sustainable.

To determine the scalability and sustainability of your impact activities, we need to identify potential users and beneficiaries from your research. We consider this identification and engagement process, a market validation process.

Whether it leads to the creation of a new spinout company or is an idea that needs the collaboration of a commercial partner or policymaker, this challenge is an opportunity for researchers to find a pathway to create a positive impact on one of the most important issues of our time.

You will also discover the support available for developing ideas at the LSE, such as sources of translational funding, entrepreneurial training, incubators and mentorship.

WHAT is it?

It is a framework of support activity and resources that leverages all the expertise within LSE Research and Innovation to increase the School’s exposure to external stakeholders such as UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and its research councils like the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). It is also an opportunity to explore, identify, test, and implement models for the delivery of sustainable impact at scale. Ideas in the following categories are particularly encouraged:

  • The Macro Economy
  • Business, Trade and The Future of Work
  • Inequality and Social Infrastructure
  • Health and Social Care
  • Environment and Climate Change
  • Welfare and Public Policy
  • Governance and State Capacity
  • Democracy and Rights

All ideas will be considered, in that each submission will receive the same support as any new LSEi project, and in addition, will be entered into the competition element of the challenge.

The competition element of the challenge will involve selecting a winner and up to two runners up by a panel of LSE senior academic and professional staff members as well as expert partners. The winning prize will be £10,000. The prize for each runner up will be £5,000. The prize money in all cases will be spent on market validation and commercialisation activities, such as market research or the creation of presentation materials.

Please note, buyout of academic time associated with carrying out these activities is not eligible; precise details of what the money can be spent on will be provided to the winners. 

WHO is it for?

It is for all academic researchers across all academic units of the London School of Economics and Political Science. All academic, research and policy staff are eligible to apply. Please note, support for students, including PhD students whose LSE-sponsored research is eligible here, will be supported by LSE Generate. Therefore, students are not eligible to apply via the Innovation Challenge route.   

We would particularly like to encourage researchers to engage with us and each other to discover the support available to help them create sustainable long-term impact from the outcomes of their individual or collaborative research.

If once we discuss your idea, we find that it is not suitable for Innovation Challenge funding, we will work with you to identify other means to generate impact. We will aim to signpost you to other internal (or external) funding sources available as appropriate. 

WHEN is it?

2023/24 Round One

SHAPE the WORLD Innovation Challenge 2023/24 first round call deadline for submissions to

Thursday 4 January 2024, 4pm UK time

Pitch to panel meeting held – exact date/time TBC

15-17 January 2024

Prize winners announced

Monday 22 January 2024

Market validation and commercialisation activities start

Thursday 1 February 2024

Market validation feedback and action plan agreed with prize winners

Friday 31 May 2024

2023/24 Round Two

SHAPE the WORLD Innovation Challenge 2023/24 second round call deadline for submissions to

Thursday 6 June 2024, 4pm UK time

Pitch to panel meeting held – exact date/time TBC

10-17 June 2024

Prize winners announced

Friday 21 June 2024

Market validation and commercialisation activities start

Monday 1 July 2024

Market validation feedback and action plan agreed with prize winners

Saturday 30 November 2024

WHY get involved?

The Innovation Challenge is one of the perfect mechanisms to assist potential applicants who would consider applying commercialisation thinking to their research and take advantage of the introductory workshops that are available through the AHRC/ESRC Catalyst programme. This programme is designed to provide academic researchers with an understanding of commercialisation as a route to impact. 

HOW do I apply?

It’s simple to apply - download our short application form 

The Panel will assess the submitted ideas by considering the following questions as examples:

  • the clarity of the nature of the problem
  • who has the problem and what would it mean to them to solve it?
  • who would be the beneficiaries/users of the idea?
  • how many beneficiaries would have that problem?
  • are there already providers of similar solutions?
  • how different is the proposed innovation challenge idea?
  • what is the current state of development?
  • what would we need to do to deliver the solution to beneficiaries?

Previous Challenge Winners

The first challenge opened on Monday 5 September 2022 and all applications received before Friday 14 October 2022 were reviewed by the panel which decided the first three places as follows: 

First: Jens Koed Madsen from the Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science was awarded a prize of £10,000 to develop a computational model that can scenario-test when and why information systems become vulnerable to disinformation.

Second: Adelina Comas-Herrera from the Care Policy and Evaluation Centre was awarded a prize of £5,000 to build the Global Observatory of Long-Term Care to facilitate cross-national learning to improve and strengthen care systems in response to increased longevity.  

Third: Marie Oldfield from the Department of Mathematics was awarded a prize of £5,000 to develop an evidence-based audit and certification process for the development of ethical AI.

The final LSE Innovation Challenge of 2023 closed on 4 January 2024. The panel made awards to Dr Zsofia Szlamka from the Care Policy Evaluation Centre for her project offering a compass to navigating digital mental health solutions in the UK for mental health professionals and mental health service users, and to Dr Maxi Heitmayer, from the Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science for his project looking at an innovative approach to individual responsible digital habits. 

Other applicants were recommended for Innovation support to refine their project ideas in advance of future Innovation Challenge Calls.


Contact LSEi via to discuss your potential ideas and receive more information about the scheme and support available to you.