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Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship

Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship


Funding and supporting social impact research

Participatory budgeting in Medellin, Colombia. Diana Dajer

Skoll Centre announce 2017 Research Accelerator Grants

The Skoll Centre has announced the recipients of our 2017 Research Accelerator Grants, awarded annually to Oxford-based Early Career Researchers furthering knowledge for social impact. Now in their sixth year, the research grants scheme supports ‘first steps’ into new research areas or ‘last mile’ projects boosting the on the ground impact of completed research work.

This year four awards of £6,000-£12,000 were made to researchers working across a number of disciplines and departments:

Department of Economics DPhil Candidate Ashley Pople is carrying out research in Zambia that will provide an evidence base for innovative service provision to improve maternal mental health. Pople says: 'Despite ramifications for development, this problem remains invisible, in part because the economic implications have yet to be quantified. Mental health and poverty are only tenuously linked in economic research ... ‘The Economics of Thinking Healthy’ project aims to bridge this gap by exploring how poor mental health traps people in poverty and how poverty feeds into maternal depression.'

Karim Harji, Co-Founder and Director of an impact investment advisory firm in Toronto and part-time DPhil student based at Kellogg College has received funding to interview impact investors leading to the creation of a typology of investor expectations. 'This early-stage exploratory research seeks to elevate the importance of academic research within a field that has largely been practitioner and industry-led… [It] aims to develop a typology to situate investors based on their impact expectations, describe the common tools and practices they use (or could use), and illustrate the types of choices and issues they consider around impact measurement.'

Tanja Collavo of Saïd Business School was awarded a ‘last mile’ grant to transmit the findings of her DPhil research on networks and influence strategies in the social entrepreneurship sector. 'Core to this effort is the creation of a case study to teach MBAs how to strategise in the social entrepreneurship sector. The case study concerns a sector intermediary trying to survive in a highly competitive environment and building a network contributing to the growth of social enterprises and to the establishment of the social entrepreneurship sector as mainstream.' This builds on impact work that Tanja has already carried out supported by the Skoll Centre in her role as one of our Early Career Research Fellows.

Finally, Diana Dajer, a lawyer specialised in administrative law and DPhil Candidate in Socio-Legal Studies, will carry out work to further develop and test a participatory budgeting tool that aims to contribute to peacebuilding in post-conflict Colombia. She says, 'After fifty years of war, Colombia is starting the implementation of an ambitious peace deal between the Government and the FARC-EP guerrillas. Participation is one of the most used words in the agreement between the parties, and peacebuilding in the local areas will depend on the active participation of citizens in more than forty participatory spaces featured in the final accord.' As well as testing hypotheses about the use of technology in peacebuilding, the project will also result in the production of a Minimum Viable Product participatory budgeting tech tool.

The four awardees will work closely with the Skoll Centre over the next year to tap into academic and practitioner networks, boost the impact of their work and contribute to the social impact research community in Oxford. By supporting Early Career Researchers in this way, the Centre aims to encourage the development of a cadre of researchers recognised as much for their contributions to social impact as for their academic excellence. Applications for next year’s Research Accelerator Grants will open in March 2018.

About Research for Action at the Skoll Centre

The mission of the Skoll Centre’s Research for Action programme is to accelerate the impact of social entrepreneurship by connecting researchers with social impact practitioners, catalysing new research ideas, and communicating research findings to generate impact.

We work with Faculty and Early Career Researchers at Oxford Saïd Business School and beyond to enable high-quality research that generates insights to address pressing environmental and social challenges globally. Find out more.