SAGE Concept Grants: Applications open for 2020

£15,000 to scale up

£2,000 for new ideas

SAGE’s Concept Grant program has been developed as part of the SAGE Ocean initiative to fund innovative software ideas that support social science researchers to work with big data and new technologies. We are seeking innovative proposals for software solutions that will tackle some of the challenges currently facing social scientists and enable more researchers to engage with computational methods.

Your proposal might look to support one or more of the following goals:

  • Support social scientists to develop new computational skills

  • Enable social scientists who do not have programming skills to analyze data at scale

  • Enable interdisciplinary research collaborations

  • Help researchers to get credit for software development

  • Open up access to vast data sets

There are two grant amounts available: £15,000 to scale up, and £2,000 for new ideas.

To qualify to £15,000, you need to have:

  • A prototype of your tool or a minimum viable product that we can test

  • A plan for scaling up, i.e. testing a sustainability and operational model and acquire more users

To qualify for £2,000, you need to have:

  • A solution for a challenge that fits within the goals above

  • A plan for a minimum viable product or prototype that you can build quickly and get it ready for testing with the target users

For both grant amounts, we will look favorably on ideas that have wide-scale applicability within the social sciences and that will help further SAGE Ocean’s mission to equip social scientists with the skills, tools, and resources to work with big data and new technology.


To submit an application for a SAGE Concept Grant, download and complete a Product Proposal via the links below and upload it in your application when prompted. There are separate Product Proposals for each grant amount; please ensure you have completed the correct one.

£15,000 product proposal £2,000 product proposal

Deadline for applications: 16 February 2020.

SAGE Concept Grants are available to fund direct project costs, but not overheads. Direct project costs include software development, market research, workshops, server'/hosting costs, and equipment.

Text Wash is awarded the 2019 SAGE Concept Grant

Data sharing is one of the main impediments to truly relevant computational social science research. Our aim is to unlock the potential of hard-to-access data—such as police reports or patient interviews—as a means of addressing important societal challenges.
— Bennett Kleinberg, Assistant Professor in Data Science at the Department of Security and Crime Science at UCL

When it comes to doing research with text data, many datasets are protected through ethics boards’ restrictions (e.g. interviews, crowdsourced texts) and wider data protection frameworks such as GDPR (e.g. police reports, patient files). As a result, such unique datasets are rarely shared, so that research using text data often focuses on readily available data at the expense of data that could help answer more pressing research questions.

Where they are shared, current approaches to anonymize these data render the texts unusable for follow-up research. Text Wash solves this problem by enabling the anonymization of text data without compromising its quality. It does this by using natural language processing and machine learning to identify and replace sensitive information while preserving the semantic and grammatical structures in text. Importantly, personally identifiable information is determined in close collaboration with data protection officers from the government and the police.

We were particularly impressed by Text Wash and selected it as the winner based on the importance and prevalence of the challenge it addresses, and its potential for wide-ranging impact.
— Katie Metzler, Associate Vice President of Product Innovation at SAGE

Text Wash will be available as an R-package and a standalone software for non-technical users.

Read the full press release here.

Update from the 2018 Concept Grant Winners

Concept Grants.jpg

In 2018, SAGE Ocean awarded Concept Grants to support the development of three new research tools for social scientists. We recently caught up with the winners for an update on how the projects are progressing. Follow the links below to read the full interviews on our blog.

Quanteda Studio, LSE, UK

A powerful, flexible, and user-friendly text analytic software tool that will require no programming experience to use and will run as a web application.

MiniVAN, Public Data Lab, FR/UK

An easy-to-use tool that will support non-specialist social scientists in the visual analysis and in the online publication of networks. 

Digital DNA Toolbox (DDNA), IIT-CNR, IT

A toolbox that will use bioinformatics techniques to provide researchers with a set of cutting-edge tools that can be used for many things, including assessing the veracity, trustworthiness, and reliability of content (and content producers) in online social networks and beyond.

We will be awarding Concept Grants again in 2020. To stay up to date with the latest news and ensure you receive the next call for applications, subscribe to the Big Data Newsletter using the signup box below, or follow us @SAGEOceanTweets.