Research England invests in UK-Ukraine university twinning scheme

Research England has teamed up with Universities UK International (UUKi) to support an innovative UK-Ukraine University Twinning Initiative.

The scheme, which Research England is backing with a £5 million investment, is led by Cormack Consultancy Group and UUKi, and is designed to support Ukrainian universities and researchers.

It is intended to help UK and Ukrainian universities share resources and assistance in a collective gesture of solidarity and reciprocity to benefit Ukrainian institutions, staff and students.

Increasing capacity in research and innovation

Research England’s investment, which will be awarded through UUKi, will see partners collaborating on and building their capacity in research and innovation into the future.

It will also mean UK universities can:

  • scale up and sustain their commitment to working with their Ukrainian partners
  • provide new cross-sector resources that will make responding to future crises easier for the UK sector

On the ground, work will include:

  • partnership development workshops
  • seed funding for future bilateral research collaborations
  • researcher support and summer schools, access to training and development for research management staff
  • support for research infrastructure and kit
  • data processing and access to research services and e-resources
  • access to UK postgraduate researcher and early career researcher training and skills programmes
  • researcher and postgraduate researcher visits and capacity building

Support for Ukrainian institutions and researchers

Science Minister George Freeman said:

Science and technology are increasingly key to geopolitical soft power: as levers to hit the Russian state as part of our sanctions in the spring, and to support science through our Ukrainian research project and harness innovation in rebuilding Ukraine’s economy.

I’m delighted that through our new twinning programme, Ukrainian universities are able to collaborate with UK universities to develop strong partnerships that will benefit both nations, while addressing global research and innovation challenges.

Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine has devastated much of the country. Our support for Ukraine’s research community is an important part of the UK’s ongoing efforts to use our science, technology and innovation for global good and support the Ukrainian people and their economic reconstruction.

Supporting Ukrainian partners

Professor Dame Jessica Corner, Executive Chair of Research England, said:

This £5 million investment being made by Research England, on behalf of the UK government, not only builds a strategic research and innovation response but supports the UK-Ukraine twinning initiative established by Universities UK International earlier in the year.

The partnerships being created through the scheme are hugely important to support and build both longer-term research and innovation collaboration and capacity between our 2 countries.

The injection of funding will be vital in enabling UK universities to increase and strengthen their commitment to supporting their Ukrainian partners allowing them to address research and innovation challenges; while also providing new resources, which will enable the UK higher education sector to respond to future crises.

Recovery and reconstruction

Jamie Arrowsmith, Director of Universities UK International said:

The funding announced today by Research England will help UK and Ukrainian universities involved in the twinning initiative to build new research and innovation partnerships, and will facilitate access to research support and vital resources.

The universities involved in the scheme have all made a long-term commitment to their partnerships that will contribute towards the recovery and reconstruction of Ukraine, and help ensure that the UK benefits from the new, deeper relationships that have been developed. Together, these partnerships will make a positive contribution to both our higher education communities.

It’s amazing to see our universities collaborate through this scheme. We hope that this investment will further strengthen the relationship between our 2 countries and signals the UK’s continued support for Ukraine throughout and beyond the current conflict.

Creating new partnerships

UUKi will use Research England’s investment to manage a programme of competitive grants available exclusively to UK universities to use in the context of the twinning partnerships.

Outcomes are expected to include:

  • UK universities will have resources to build long-term strategic partnerships with their partners in Ukraine that support both institutions’ and UK and Ukraine-wide research and innovation priorities
  • shared resources and capabilities that will better position UK universities to respond to future crises
  • partnerships that are able to build shared research and innovation projects that will position the UK sector as a global leader in crisis response
  • Ukraine’s university-based research and innovation ecosystem will be supported through and beyond the current crisis

The 3 elements

Research England’s £5 million investment would cover 3 elements:

  • grants to twinning partnerships to address research and innovation (R&I) challenges (UK-Ukraine R&I twinning grants scheme): the grants would support bespoke programmes of work mutually agreed between the twins that address the reciprocal needs of UK and Ukrainian institutions and researchers
  • strategic cross-sector activities to build capacity and resilience: a number of cross-sector consultancy projects to build future resilience and capacity to respond to crises, based on insights from twinning partnerships. This will include a cross-sector review of the UK higher education sector’s response to the Ukraine crisis, identifying lessons for future responses
  • coordination, management and lessons learned: this will include the management of cross-sector activities and an event to share best practice between twinning partnerships

UK-Ukraine Twinning Initiative

Launched in summer 2022, the UK-Ukraine Twinning Initiative has seen the creation of 100 partnerships between UK and Ukrainian universities. Partnerships include:

  • Cardiff University and National University Zaporizhzhia Polytechnic
  • Queen’s University Belfast and Borys Grinchenko Kyiv University
  • St Andrews University and National University of Ostroh Academy
  • University of Cambridge and Kharkiv National Medical University

Research England’s commitment is for a period of 1 year.

Further information

UUKi campaign, #TwinForHope, has been broadly communicating the impact the twinning initiatives and the partnerships are having.

The scheme is created by Cormack Consultancy Group. The campaign aims to engage more universities, from the UK and beyond, to join the scheme and attract more investment for the initiative, and to continue to deliver impact.

Watch a feature film about the initiative and read impact case studies from twinning partnerships.

Learn more about the twinning projects.

Top image:  Credit: Oleksii Liskonih, iStock, Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

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