Partnerships for Societal Impact

We provide a platform to encourage early-stage, interdisciplinary and inclusive collaboration between academic researchers and partners from a variety of sectors, helping to create a seamless link between challenge-led research and real-world impact.

Developing collaborations

Working with colleagues in research and professional services across the University of Leeds, we draw on their wealth of expertise and experience in order to help our partners create research-led projects that align with their own strategic goals, with a view to developing research-informed impact. We also believe these collaborations are mutually beneficial, enriching the knowledge and experience of our researchers.  

The Horizons Connect Fund

In autumn 2023 we expanded our partnerships offer to provide additional space and support for academics and others interested in working together, to experiment and to explore what and how new collaborations might develop. This work will specifically aim to support new potential research partnerships, primarily with NGO and third sector organisations in an interdisciplinary and inclusive way.

To find out more about the projects funded through the Horizons Connect Fund, visit our Medium blog post Giving connections room to grow.

Current and past partnerships

Previous partnerships with organisations from across Leeds City Region include:

LEEDS 2023 

LEEDS 2023 was a year-long Year of Culture across the city, to celebrate and reinvigorate the creativity and culture of the people of Leeds. From 2021, the Horizons Institute took on an active role in the university-wide strategic partnership with the Year of Culture.  

Working in partnership, Horizons has helped them integrate interdisciplinary research into their approach and, together with other colleagues across the university, develop new and innovative projects to explore the potential for research to speak to contemporary challenges facing Leeds. 

For the Public Good paired internationally-based artists with researchers from the University of Leeds to explore the how creative technologists might bring new, community-informed contributions to climate change. The project was developed by LEEDS 2023, Horizons Institute, the Cultural Institute, and The British Council.

This collaborative programme saw researchers and creative practitioners develop projects to address climate justice, and saw the formation of a climate library; the reimagining of a bright future using artificial intelligence; bringing climate change and the LGBTQIA+ community together to produce a computer game; the introduction of sustainable practices in music production; and a community co-creating local fashion standards.  

You can read more about each of these projects on the For The Public Good University of Leeds news page.  

We also supported a research fellow, in collaboration with the Centre for Cultural Value, to help ensure the lessons learnt through My LEEDS 2023, one of LEEDS 2023’s core co-production projects, create a lasting legacy for arts and culture beyond the Year of Culture. 

“Working with the Horizons Institute has been an incredible experience for LEEDS 2023. Bringing together people from many walks of life is key to making sure academia, art and culture are relevant and useful for the communities we serve. 

"The projects we’re developing together as part of the Year of Culture will make sure our work is grounded in lived and learned experience." 

 – Emma Beverley, Executive Producer, LEEDS 2023 

Find out more about our work with LEEDS 2023 in this article on the Horizons Institute website 

Leeds City Council  

Over the past two years the Horizons Institute has played a central role in developing the partnership between the University and Leeds City Council, working closely with both Policy Leeds and the LSSI. Horizons Institute Research Manager Dr Abi Rowson, as Chair of the University of Leeds and Leeds City Council Strategy Liaison Group, has between integral in creating momentum for the research-policy engagement between the two institutions.  

A key piece of this work has been the publication of Leeds City Council’s first Areas of Research Interest document [Word doc]. Researchers can view this document as an invitation to work with Council colleagues: to share knowledge, data, evidence – or as a way to begin a research collaboration.

From September 2023, Abi Rowson has been seconded to the Leeds City Council Policy & Intelligence Team to embed, evaluate and expand the Areas of Research Interest (Word Doc) mechanism. The aim is to positively influence the changing culture at the Council towards becoming research active, and to support the growing understanding on the University side about the Council’s knowledge needs and ways of working. It is anticipated that this programme of work will stimulate further successful research collaborations between the two institutions and help to unlock the huge research potential within the city. 

Yorkshire and Humber Policy Engagement Research Network (Y-PERN) 

Y-PERN is a network of Yorkshire Universities and Yorkshire and Humber Councils working together to support inclusive, research-informed regional development, policy and strategy.  

Horizons Institute, with Policy Leeds, provided support to the academic leads of the Place-Based Economic Recovery Network (PERN) as they sought to expand, successfully developing a network of university and local authority partners throughout Yorkshire.  

You can read more about Y-PERN on the Horizons Institute Y-PERN page, and read more about their origins and ambitions on the Leeds University Business School blog.

Get in touch

We are continuously developing our work with external partners. If you would like to find out more, please email the Horizons Institute team at