PRIME awards

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What are the PRIME awards?

The Principal’s Research IMpact and Engagement, or PRIME, awards recognise outstanding achievement, innovation and creativity in impact and public engagement with research; celebrating activities with the potential to create economic, social, environmental and cultural impact from research, and engage broad publics, new stakeholders and/or underserved audiences. 

The 2019 prizes were awarded in December 2019. Applications for the 2020 prizes will open in October 2020. 

What is impact?

Impact can be defined as an effect on, change or benefit to society, the environment, culture and the economy. This includes activities, attitudes, awareness, behaviour, capacity, opportunity, performance, policy, practice, process and understanding. The beneficiaries can be from any geographical location; local, regional, national or global. 

What is engagement?

Engagement describes the myriad of ways in which the activity and benefits of research can be shared with non-academic communities. Engagement is by definition a two-way process, involving interaction and listening, with the goal of generating mutual benefit.

Examples of impact and engagement

  • impacts on curricula and teaching which extend beyond Heriot-Watt University
  • research communication through a variety of media
  • public engagement with research through festivals, exhibitions, performances, partnerships with arts, heritage and cultural organisations
  • engagement with policy-makers
  • engagement with business and industry collaborations
  • engagement with any other non-academic stakeholder group which has potential for social, economic or cultural impact
  • commercialisation of research through spin-outs and licensing
  • partnerships with public services including the wider education sector and schools, NHS, local government, government agencies, and other public bodies

Award categories and criteria

Pioneer Award
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Established Academic Award 
Applications from current Heriot-Watt University academic staff are invited. This excludes PhD students, postdoctoral researchers, and research fellows who are encouraged to apply for the Pioneer Award. Impact and engagement activities should be strongly linked to research conducted at Heriot-Watt University. 

Partnership Award
Applications are invited from current Heriot-Watt University research staff and students who have built external partnerships at all career stages.


Applications will be judged by an interdisciplinary panel including internal and external professional staff, academics and research users. The panel will consider the strength and coherence of each nomination on its own merits. 

Further advice and support

Please contact the Heriot-Watt Engage team with any queries or for advice on your application.

Key information

HW Engage