£20 million investment in four partnerships to boost local growth

Four partnerships to address regional inequalities in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Yorkshire have been awarded nearly £20 million in funding.

Four Local Policy Innovation Partnerships (LPIPs) will bring together devolved governments, local authorities, local businesses and local communities to harness the power of research and innovation in addressing local challenges.

The partnerships will drive sustainable and inclusive economic growth and reduce regional disparities in the UK.

The partnerships are part of the work by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to create opportunities and improve outcomes across the UK.

All four nations

The partnerships are:

  • a Welsh project, which will develop an inclusive, sustainable rural economy by giving local government, business and communities the evidence they need to make decisions that build prosperity and reduce inequality
  • a Scottish project, which will focus on building inclusive economic opportunities, including jobs, around an abundant natural resource, water
  • a Northern Irish project that will focus primarily on boosting skills to tackle unemployment and improve economic growth
  • a project in Yorkshire that will support inclusive and sustainable growth of jobs, businesses, culture and inclusive entrepreneurship with a focus on low-income, marginalised and isolated communities

Diverse partners

Science Minister Andrew Griffith said:

Harnessing the strength of our brightest and best researchers and innovators system will drive growth across the UK, while strengthening our Union.

If we build on the potential of research and science clusters in the areas that need the most support, we can address local challenges and take advantage of new opportunities, ultimately creating hubs of highly-skilled jobs and growth.

The second phase of the Local Policy Innovation Partnership programme will do just that, supporting researchers to continue finding solutions to problems that matter to communities and foster sustainable growth throughout the UK.

Professor Alison Park, Head of UKRI’s creating opportunities, improving outcomes theme, said:

Local Policy Innovation Partnerships demonstrate UKRI’s commitment to bringing together a diverse range of partners, from local and devolved government, communities and businesses.

Through these long-term collaborations, we will accelerate the use of research and innovation to reduce regional inequalities and drive sustainable, inclusive growth.

The LPIPs hub

The four projects are supported by a Birmingham-based LPIPs hub.

The hub will share data, evidence, learning and best practice with the UK government, local authorities and researchers who are carrying out research into reducing regional inequality.

Innovative funding

The LPIPs programme is funded by UKRI and by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Innovate UK.

It used an innovative two-phase competitive process.

In phase one of the programme 10 LPIPs each received up to £50,000 of seed corn funding.

LPIPs used the funding to build local partnerships and work with local communities and other agencies to develop strong, evidence-based proposals for phase two.

Creating opportunities and improving outcomes is one of five cross-cutting strategic themes for UKRI.

Work funded under this theme will improve outcomes for people and places across the UK by identifying solutions that promote economic and social prosperity.

Further information

Rural Wales LPIP

Professor Michael Woods, Aberystwyth University

This partnership brings together researchers, community organisations, an enterprise agency and local communities.

It gathers, shares and applies evidence to local policymaking and innovation, for inclusive, sustainable growth in rural Wales.

In particular, it will discover how growth can be achieved in a rural region where low population density, small scale businesses, weak infrastructure and a dispersed labour market limit the effectiveness of conventional growth strategies.

It will:

  • expand and enrich the evidence base on how to address sustainable growth in rural areas
  • address data gaps and improve access to data that can improve local policymaking, through an online hub
  • give local communities a bigger say in things that affect them by supporting them to carry out research on local issues and create locally-defined priorities and policies
  • strengthen the capacity of local and regional institutions to create innovative, evidence-based ways of fixing the distinctive problems faced in rural Wales

In phase one, over 70 organisations were consulted to identify evidence gaps, understand data use, and develop the phase two work programme.

Engagement included workshops in pilot communities, with farming and environmental groups, and with local government policy officers.

The partnership brings together a team from:

  • Aberystwyth University
  • Bangor University
  • Cardiff University
  • the Countryside and Community Research Institute
  • the Centre for Alternative Technology
  • Together for Change
  • Antur Cymru
  • community energy company DEG
  • Rural Health and Care Wales
  • Sgema
  • Represent Us Rural

Stirling LPIP: optimising outcomes from water resources: raising levels in the Forth water basin

Professor Richard Simmons, University of Stirling

The Stirling LPIP covers the region of the Forth water basin which includes the Firth of Forth and the capital city, Edinburgh.

It builds innovative structures for making the most of an abundant local resource, water.

The partnership will produce new evidence on water’s role in shaping better places to live, improving public health, and linking cultural and natural heritage.

It will also produce new evidence on water’s role in promoting opportunities for businesses and jobs in the food and drink, agriculture, tourism, construction, energy and biotechnology sectors.

It addresses three fundamental questions:

  • how to make the most of water resources, in the pursuit of sustainable and inclusive economic growth
  • how to build productive and harmonious relationships between human and natural systems
  • how to increase the capacity of the LPIP partners to create new, innovative opportunities to promote sustainable, inclusive growth

Phase one workshops addressed the partnership’s vision, theory of change and desired outcomes.

These workshops provided invaluable access to the diverse knowledge and expertise across the network of partners in co-developing the phase two approach.

The shared vision developed during phase one significantly increased the membership of the LPIP.

The Stirling LPIP brings together a team from:

  • University of Stirling
  • Heriot-Watt University
  • The University of Edinburgh
  • Scottish Environment Protection Agency
  • Scottish Water
  • Scotland’s Rural College
  • James Hutton Institute
  • National Institute of Economic and Social Research

Yorkshire and Humber Policy Innovation Partnership

Professor Gary Dymski, University of Leeds

Yorkshire and Humber Policy Innovation Partnership (YPIP) is a collaboration of university, public, private and third sector bodies in Yorkshire and the Humber.

The partnership aims to address:

  • how to empower low-income, marginalised and isolated communities across the region to participate in creating solutions to local challenges
  • how to increase access to, and use of, data to inform local decision-making across the region
  • how to expand opportunities for businesses and would-be entrepreneurs in the region, with a special focus on small and medium businesses, entrepreneurs from marginalised communities, and those engaged in the creative and cultural sector
  • how to move towards net zero carbon and introduce measures to adapt to the changing climate in the region

A key aim of YPIP is to give more power to low-income, marginalised and isolated communities in regional research and decision-making.

At the heart of YPIP will be the YPIP community panel, comprised of 12 members with diverse lived and felt experiences of disadvantage, marginalisation and isolation.

In phase one the YPIP co-developed and reached consensus with stakeholders that it would focus on lower income communities.

Phase one activities also strengthened and expanded the partnership to include the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission and the Yorkshire and Humber Applied Research Consortium.

These respectively bring together climate and health stakeholders and communities for integrated region-wide activity.

Yorkshire and Humber Policy Innovation Partnership brings together a team from:

  • University of Leeds
  • Leeds Beckett University
  • Leeds Arts University
  • Leeds Trinity University
  • The University of Sheffield
  • Sheffield Hallam University
  • University of York
  • York St John University
  • University of Bradford
  • University of Huddersfield
  • University of Hull
  • Leeds Conservatoire
  • local authorities across the region
  • Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission
  • Yorkshire and Humber Applied Research Consortium
  • Timebank Hull
  • East Riding and St Nicks

EPIC Futures NI: collaborative research and innovation for policy and practice.

Professor Kristel Miller, Ulster University

The Northern Ireland LPIP aims to become a pioneering think tank, bringing together researchers, business, government and local communities in an open forum.

It provides evidence for policy and programmes that support the economic and social prosperity of Northern Ireland.

It will address economic inactivity, low unemployment and target the ‘hidden unemployed’, individuals who would like to work but face barriers in doing so, within the economically inactive population.

To achieve this, the LPIP will:

  • deliver a programme of activities that fill research gaps and develop an understanding of skills and employability in Northern Ireland, both overall and at local level
  • analyse trends and behaviours in the current and future labour market in Northern Ireland
  • collaboratively identify, and co-create, evidence-based interventions and develop policy recommendations which aid Northern Ireland’s skills and employability challenges
  • help build partnerships across government departments, councils, community representatives, industry and education, focused on skills and employability

The Northern Ireland LPIP workplan has been fully co-created during phase one and will continue to work with those partners to both design and deliver activity across Northern Ireland.

The Northern Ireland LPIP brings together a team from:

  • University of Ulster
  • Business in the Community in Northern Ireland
  • Centre for Cross Border Studies
  • Chief Executives Forum
  • Department for Communities
  • Department for the Economy
  • Department of Finance
  • Disability Action
  • Involve
  • Northern Ireland Confederation for Health and Social Care
  • Social Enterprise Northern Ireland
  • The Open University
  • Queen’s University Belfast
  • Ulster University Economic Policy Centre
  • Women’s Resource and Development Agency

Top image:  Credit: pixelfit, E+ via Getty Images

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