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Commercialising the social sciences where are we at, and where are we going?

The challenges of commercialising the social sciences

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Published on October 19, 2020

In research years, university technology transfer has endeavoured to uncover the entrepreneurial potential of social science research. Such efforts are visible in the creation of initiatives such as Aspect a UK-wide network of universities promoting social science innovation;[1] and in new professional development opportunities for innovation managers focused on the arts, the humanities, and the social sciences.[2]

While an increasingly higher number of institutions and governments are starting to recognise the value of commercialising the social sciences, there are several challenges that lie ahead to support the smooth translation of seemingly abstract knowledge into marketable products and services. One of these is the upskilling of innovation managers in the areas of expertise needed for social science commercialisation projects (fair data handling, data protection, privacy rights and ethics, to name a few). Another one is the effective engagement with VCs’ communities: while these may be used to investing in businesses born from STEM, they must become attracted to and promoters of social science research as a source of economic growth. Universities must continue to create opportunities for research entrepreneurs, extending their outreach activities and calls to action to academic groups that are traditionally regarded as less entrepreneurial than STEM. Moreover, opportunities for dialogue between different subjects and the creation of interdisciplinary partnerships will be key in the agenda for the successful commercialisation of social science research.

To learn more about successful models of social science research commercialisation, long-held dogmas and myth busts, join our webinar on 5th November. Register here.


Oxentia contributes to the promotion of innovation in the social science offering strategic advice, policy reviews, training, and commercialisation support to universities and research institutes around the world.

[1] Aspect is an initiative funded by Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund.

[2] See for example training offers on innovation in the arts, humanities, and social sciences for technology transfer professionals.



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