Growing Aspect’s international focus


27th August 2020

One of Aspect’s key projects, which is being driven by The University of Sussex, is the internationalisation of the Aspect network. The project is being led by Dr Shova Thapi, Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship and Sustainability in the Business School at Sussex.

We spoke to Andre Mostert, Aspect Broker at Sussex, and the project manager about the goals of the project and how interested organisations can become involved.

Q: Can you give an overview of the project?

This project aims to position Aspect partners as ‘preferred’ organisations to respond to commercial and business opportunities from social science research that involve partnership with middle income countries (MICs) and promote UK PLC through the relevant education desks at the Department for International Trade (DIT) and abroad (all focused on Official Development Assistance, ODA, eligibility).   

The project aligns, initially, with and is supported by the DIT’s Skills for Prosperity Programme. It will provide a platform for Aspect partners to engage in entrepreneurship, commercialisation and transformation of the nine MICs targeted by S4P (Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines and South Africa). Presently the Aspect team at Sussex is working with 30+ other ODA countries to enhance their capacity to mobilise social science research. This will in time allow for further expansion to lower and middle income countries LMICs.

Submissions are under review by various agencies, while social science responses to COVID-19 projects are in development with a wide network of international partners. Through these activities international partners are being supported to embed social science entrepreneurship within their delivery, and the project aims to increase the scope for all Aspect partner universities and all other interested stakeholders to collaborate on this initiative. Please do make contact if your organisation is interested in exploring how to partner with us.

Q: What are the specific aims of the project?

The project is founded on addressing the following challenges, which are core to what Aspect is seeking achieve: 

  • The value of social science research is not understood by business in LMICs, MICs and developed countries
  • Lack for standard practices for social scientists working with industry
  • Lack of business skills appropriate to LMICs and MICs amongst social science researchers and KE professionals
  • Institutions are not equipped to commercialise social science research
  • Incentives to undertake commercial work are lacking within the academic setting
  • Industry is unaware of social science research in order to promote industrial R&D focused on this area (as opposed to STEM)

Through working with existing international partner networks, the project aims to widen links and to develop social science-based research and development initiatives that address these challenges while promoting sharing of best practice and lessons from Aspect activities and partners. 

Q: How will this be achieved?

The project was launched in early July and the Aspect team at Sussex is currently consolidating the network around existing links and partnerships with the view to expanding this on the back of the Aspect Annual Event (a programme of webinars which are taking place throughout September and October). Furthermore, using the ECR Consultancy Training project at Sussex the team plans to build a raft of projects that will attract attention from Aspect partners and international stakeholders alike. Initially, in order to exploit economies of scale, the team is using the Aspect themes that Sussex is promoting i.e. youth mental health, community safety, healthy ageing, entrepreneurship and ECR consultancy. Through these activities the Aspect team based at Sussex hopes to build international consortia and secure resources for capacity building, staff and student exchange (travel permitting) and promote the agenda of social science research commercialisation, technology transfers, knowledge exchange and knowledge alliance partnerships.

Q: How can partners get involved?

In mid September we will launch the Aspect International Basecamp and this will act as the key communicative base for all interested partners.If your university, business, charity, NGO or civic organisation wishes to join please feel free to send an email to (with ‘Aspect International’ in the subject line) and we will send you a membership form.

Photo credit: Pexels

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