Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Developing Local Policy Innovation Partnerships

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Apply for funding to develop Local Policy Innovation Partnerships (LPIP). The LPIPs will be commissioned through a 2-phase competitive process. The full programme will make up to £20 million available over 4 years. This is the LPIP phase 1 opportunity.

You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for ESRC funding.

During phase 1 you must provide resource and support capacity across stakeholders to undertake partnership development and landscape evidence analysis required to design the phase 2 work programme.

The full economic cost of your phase 1 project can be up to £50,000. ESRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost. ESRC will fund up to 10 phase 1 awards for 5 months.

The full LPIP programme will make up to £20 million available over 4 years, including the strategic coordination hub.

Who can apply

This opportunity is led by ESRC in partnership with AHRC and Innovate UK on behalf of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). It is open to interdisciplinary, cross-sectoral teams with expertise in any disciplines supported by UKRI.

Teams will be expected to address social, economic and environmental challenges facing communities within the geographical area of focus. They must therefore demonstrate significant expertise across the disciplines relevant to the challenges identified.

Principal investigators must be based at an institution eligible for UKRI funding. Teams may involve multiple institutions. The lead organisation will be responsible for submitting the grant application.

Check if you are eligible for research and innovation funding.

Researchers may submit 1 application to this funding opportunity as principal investigator but may be involved in other applications as a co-investigator. Applicants applying to both the Local Policy Innovation Partnership (LPIP) and strategic coordination hub (SCH) opportunities must demonstrate sufficient capacity to deliver both effectively. This will be checked at application processing stage.

Co-investigators from government and local government, third sector and non-profit organisations and business are eligible and encouraged for this opportunity. Collaborations beyond academia are essential.

Applicants must determine the most appropriate balance of public, third and private sector stakeholders for the partnership. Teams may bring together different forms of expertise (policy, knowledge broker, corporate, community and participatory research) and research capability (design, synthesis and analysis).

Each LPIP will identify the most appropriate role and level of involvement for each participating organisation. This could be as co-investigator, research officer, support staff, project partner or other appropriate role.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

In line with the UKRI diversity principles, equality and diversity must be embedded at all levels and in all aspects of research practice. We are committed to supporting the research community in the diverse ways a research career can be built with our investments. This includes:

  • career breaks
  • support for people with caring responsibilities
  • flexible working
  • alternative working patterns

With this in mind, we welcome applications from applicants who:

  • job share
  • have a part-time contract
  • need flexible working arrangements
  • are currently committed to other longer, large existing grants

ESRC conducted an equality impact assessment for this opportunity which can be found under ‘supporting documents’ under ‘additional info’.

What we're looking for

Local Policy Innovation Partnership Programme

The programme will fund a network of Local Policy Innovation Partnerships (LPIPs) to address social, community, economic and environmental priorities that contribute towards inclusive sustainable economic growth.

LPIPs will connect local policy and research partners, providing research, evidence, data and expertise to take advantage of opportunities and find place-based solutions to challenges that matter to local people and communities. Partnerships will be equitable and sustainable with co-creation and co-delivery at their heart.

Applications should focus on creating a single LPIP in a defined geographical area. Each LPIP will develop and implement a programme of activity to support inclusive and sustainable local growth, and improve the quality of life in local communities across the UK. Each LPIP will have a regional footprint with capability to conduct local work within that region (see the ‘geographical coverage’ section for more information).

Applications should consider approaches to operating flexibly in a changing policy environment ensuring priorities and the proposed LPIP model can respond to stakeholder need.

Interactions between the LPIP network, national stakeholders and wider initiatives will be coordinated and led by a strategic coordination hub (SCH) (to be awarded via a separate application process).

In support of UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) strategic priority to strengthen clusters and partnerships as part of its world-class places objective, LPIPs will deliver the following programme objectives:

  • connecting and catalysing: strengthening partnerships and collaborations between researchers, policymakers (local, regional, national) and other relevant local stakeholders, attracting resource and capability for research and innovation, knowledge exchange and skills to address local public challenges
  • local insight and understanding: identifying and understanding the opportunities and challenges in different places and their relationship to the national context
  • solutions focused: working with stakeholders to implement evidence-informed, actionable solutions that reflect local opportunities and challenges, and supporting local leaders to test and trial innovative interventions to drive inclusive and sustainable growth

Phases

To support the delivery of these objectives and ensure the strongest applications are funded, the LPIPs will be commissioned through a 2-phased competitive process.

The phase 1 opportunity offers initial seed-corn funding so that applicants may dedicate time to developing partnerships. The funding is intended to resource the development of high-quality proposals to the phase 2 opportunity, by ensuring that partnership building is resourced, reflecting the essential role of partners in the public, third and private sectors.

During phase 2, each successful LPIP will deliver a co-designed programme of activity that reflects the opportunity aims and objectives. For a detailed overview, see ‘phase 1 activity’ and ‘phase 2 activity’ below.

Phase 1 activity

The purpose of phase 1 is to provide resource and support capacity across stakeholders to undertake partnership development and landscape evidence analysis required to design the phase 2 work programme.

Applicants will be expected to deliver the following activities and outputs during phase 1:

  • building, strengthening or diversifying partnerships between research organisations or research teams and local stakeholders
  • dialogue and co-creation with communities to further understand needs and surface opportunities for collaboration
  • design and deliver workshops
  • mapping of relevant local and national administrative data
  • landscape and evidence analysis to build the evidence base for the phase 2 application
  • establish an appropriate model for phase 2

Applicants are encouraged to consider examples of existing good practice in community and stakeholder engagement and partnership development, drawing on a diverse evidence base including but not limited to:

Phase 2 activity

The purpose of phase 2 is to select the strongest partnerships with potential to deliver insights and solutions tailored to local policy agendas.

Successful phase 2 applicants will deliver an iterative programme of activity to maintain stakeholder relationships and partnerships, and commission new activity to inform actionable solutions.

Each partnership will bid for resource to staff the LPIP, an initial work programme and a commissioning fund through the second phase application process. Each LPIP will manage its commissioning fund independently to fund projects.

There will be a wide variety of projects given the range of types and scale of challenges they could be supporting. Every project should be working to common and clearly identified goals aligned with the priority areas of focus set out below. Project development and delivery must be underpinned by community participation.

Examples of potential activities and outputs for delivery during phase 2:

  • demonstrator and consultancy type projects for local policy development and implementation
  • landscape and evidence analysis including secondary data analysis
  • designing and evaluating evidence informed interventions
  • community engagement to develop and deliver projects, including establishing local ‘citizen science’ and other community-led initiatives
  • developing regional data resources
  • local reports, policy briefings and resources (for example, think-kits and toolkits)
  • workshops and training programmes
  • building local evidence bases to support policy development and applications for locally focused funding, including commissioning new activity to address gaps in evidence base

Applicants to phase 2 will be required to build in sufficient capacity to undertake and engage with LPIP monitoring and evaluation.

LPIP must also build-in the ability to scale its capacity to respond to future opportunities to manage additional funds (for example, ringfenced pots or fellowships).

The SCH will provide support to LPIP proposal development during phase 1. Applicants to phase 1 should therefore demonstrate a willingness to engage with the SCH and build capacity into the grant application appropriately.

Stakeholder agendas

Each partnership will bring together local stakeholders from a range of sectors and disciplines to address a selection of key local agendas which contribute to inclusive and sustainable local growth, including:

  • local economic performance
  • living and working sustainably in a greener economy
  • innovation
  • skills
  • communities in their places
  • felt experiences
  • cultural recovery

A partnership’s priorities should be defined through high quality, meaningful stakeholder and community engagement. They will consider how these agendas intersect, bringing a holistic approach to the challenges faced. This will involve 3 major components:

  • identifying and prioritising challenges at the local level that are good candidates for support from research and innovation stakeholders and experts
  • supporting the application of knowledge and evidence through connections with experts, review and synthesis work, developing relevant evaluative frameworks, improved access to and use of available data, and funding research or testing solutions to help address the challenges
  • application of diverse data usage and collection methodologies to connect with knowledge embedded in local communities to deepen understanding of challenges

Outcomes

Together, the LPIPs and the SCH will support the following outcomes:

  • a ‘what works here’ approach to local policy priorities, supporting areas with economic growth, levelling up, net zero, innovation, skills and societal resilience
  • enhanced local research and innovation advice providing a single front-door for local expertise and advice in partnership areas, streamlining access to local public policy research and innovation capability
  • supporting local action through contributing to local implementation, testing and evaluation of evidence-informed policy change
  • improving UK and national policymakers’ understanding of local challenges and opportunities through improved access to stakeholders, local evidence and insights into ‘what works here’
  • creating stronger and more diverse partnerships by investing in the capability and capacity required for multi-partner collaboration, bringing the right stakeholders together at the right time to progress local priorities
  • empowering local communities and enriching knowledge exchange practices by ensuring people and grassroots groups are engaged, listened to and able to influence local agendas

LPIPs will undertake an appropriate mix of evidence synthesis and translation, knowledge exchange, public and community engagement, skills and capabilities development, data analysis and, where appropriate, novel primary research, depending on the needs of the area.

Each LPIP will design its own work programme and devise an appropriate approach and methods, including novel approaches to public and community engagement.

LPIPs should include the capability for responding to urgent challenges including conducting ‘rapid response’ type work.

Engagement with the UK LPIP strategic coordination hub

The UK LPIP strategic coordination hub (SCH) is being commissioned through a separate opportunity. It will act as an intermediary, learning about the local context and challenges faced in each partnership’s area and:

  • connecting to broader research and innovation initiatives that can support the LPIPs in addressing those challenges
  • supporting the dissemination and translation of learning and evidence across the network of LPIPs
  • communicating outcomes to policymakers and practitioners at a beyond LPIP stakeholder communities at local, regional and national levels.

The SCH will play a crucial role in connecting LPIPs to the research, learning, expertise and evidence needed to inform effective responses to local priorities. With the support of the SCH, LPIPs will be expected to engage with a range of organisations and investments to support their work programme to source the data, insights and expertise they require at local level, for example (this is not an exhaustive or prescriptive list):

See the full strategic coordination hub opportunity.

Funding available

The full economic cost of your phase 1 project can be up to £50,000. ESRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost. ESRC will fund up to 10 phase 1 awards for 5 months.

The full LPIP programme will make up to £20 million available over 4 years, including the Strategic Coordination Hub.

All applicants successful at phase 1 will be invited to submit a proposal for phase 2. Phase 2 applications will be subject to a separate assessment process. We anticipate awarding a minimum of 3 grants of a minimum value of £4.3 million (at 100% full economic cost) per award, with a duration of 36 months.

Awards at phase 1 and phase 2 will be made at 80% full economic cost, and the research organisation must agree to find the balance of full economic cost from other resources.

Applicants will be expected to bid for a level of funding that is commensurate to the maturity of the existing partnership and degree to which shared priorities are established.

It is expected that partnerships at an earlier stage of development will require a higher level of resource to develop shared agendas, and identify opportunities for wider collaboration and extending their reach to a diverse set of stakeholders.

Application requirements

At phase 1, applicants are required to demonstrate a clear pathway to expanding and diversifying partnerships. Teams must also demonstrate potential to make a significant contribution to developing insight in the selected thematic areas.

You must set out an approach to each of the following.

Partnership building, stakeholder and community engagement

You must demonstrate how existing relationships and networks will be developed and expanded during the phase 1 award. You should specify the types of activity they plan to undertake and show how the proposed new activity will add value to the existing partnership. You should include an approach to involving partners and communities in proposal development throughout phase 1.

You are expected to build on existing partnerships by engaging beyond usual stakeholders, ensuring equitable partnerships and supporting interdisciplinary approaches to deliver policy and practice impact. This may require new groupings of researchers and stakeholders, drawing on strong, existing leadership across related areas.

Capacity for people exchange across the partnership should be built in to the LPIP model. Consideration should be given to embedding stakeholders that are often excluded from the research and innovation ecosystem.

The balance of stakeholder expertise in the partnership, including new and existing relationships, should be clearly aligned to the priority areas of focus. LPIPs are not required to have the full range of partners in place for the phase 1 application. There is flexibility to expand partnerships as challenges are further defined during the phase 1 award.

At phase 2, applicants will be required to demonstrate a level of in-kind support appropriate to the nature and scale of the work. We strongly encourage cash co-investment but it is not a requirement.

Geographic coverage

At phase 1, you must provide an indication of the geographical area that the partnership will cover and its relevance to the challenges referenced in the proposal. Each LPIP will serve an applicant-defined geographical area that aligns with the challenges identified. The choice of geography will be underpinned by relationships and partnerships that also support the choice of priority areas of focus.

Each LPIP should have the capacity and capability to conduct work such as deep-dive analysis at a smaller local geography within its defined geography.

Traditional national, regional and local authority boundaries do not always reflect the social or economic geography most relevant to the challenge being addressed. You may therefore choose to use existing definable geographies, for example using electoral, administrative, health or other boundaries see UK geographies (Office for National Statistics) but are not restricted by them.

You must provide a clear approach to defining the geography, and reflect the geographic coverage requirements at phase 2:

  • LPIP applicants should consider the International Territory Level (ITL) 1 of their lead applicant institution as an indicator of scale, but not a determinant of the boundary (for example an LPIP may cross ITL 1 boundaries). This is not a rigid requirement, but seeks to encourage a regional equivalent approach – see the International Territorial Levels 1 and 2 (January 2021) Map in United Kingdom
  • applicants in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should reflect the geographies that are most contextually relevant to them as an indicator of scale but not a determinant of the boundary. They may choose to draw on for example, the scale of Regional Economic Partnerships in Scotland, the 4 regional strategic geographies in Wales or combinations of the 11 local authority areas in Northern Ireland. Geographies proposed in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland must be reasonably interpretable as areas and regions, and broadly equivalent in scale to the requirements placed on applicants in England
  • the geographic requirements are not rigid. Applicants should ensure that the core partnership on which the LPIP is based reflects the local context. The core LPIP partnerships at the start of the programme do not need to extend across the whole geographical area, but the LPIP needs to demonstrate capability to engage credibly within the regional equivalent area identified. The LPIP may increase its reach and partnerships within the geography identified over the lifetime of the programme, or in response to local or national priorities or challenges shifting. It is not expected that all the necessary relationships will be fully established or at full maturity at application stage

Partnerships may bring together communities with shared characteristics from different areas or regions, for example coastal areas. Multiregional partnerships will be considered, however applicants must demonstrate:

  • sufficient resourcing to deliver the LPIP objectives
  • that the proposals do not substantially replicate existing local, regional or national capability
  • that the proposed model is fit for purpose for stakeholder needs

You may partner with institutions beyond their area if there is a strong justification that the partnerships are required to address the challenges referenced in the proposal.

Priority areas of focus

Each LPIP will be required to deliver a programme of activity that supports inclusive and sustainable local growth:

  • applicants are required to select 1 priority from each of the themes (economy, community and environment)
  • applicants may choose to select more than 1 priority from each theme but this is not a requirement
  • applicants may also define a further theme within the context of inclusive sustainable economic growth that does not appear on the list. The selection must be driven by local challenges and informed by stakeholder and community engagement

The broad research areas defined by UKRI for this initiative are described in more detail under ‘additional info’.

Economy

This includes:

  • inclusive and sustainable local economic performance
  • innovation
  • skills

Community

This includes:

  • communities in their places
  • felt experiences and pride in place
  • cultural recovery

Environment

This includes living and working sustainably in a greener economy.

Open local priority

This is optional, and is to be decided by applicants.

We recognise that these broad research agendas and priorities identified within them may be highly interconnected. You should highlight connectivity and overlaps between chosen priority areas in the proposal.

You are free to use the options as cross-cutting themes. For example, environment and greener economy could be used as a perspective from which to view local economic performance or innovation. The themes do not have to be considered separately.

You are expected to establish priorities in consultation with local stakeholders and this process should be evidenced in phase 1 applications. You should also detail how they will work with stakeholders throughout phase 1 to co-create and further refine priority areas to reflect challenges that are of high priority to local communities.

It is recognised that the priorities indicated at phase 1 may adjust in further consultation with stakeholders and communities during the phase 1 award. You will be required to demonstrate at phase 2 the evidence including stakeholder and community consultation that has informed the phase 2 priorities.

Leadership and interdisciplinary expertise

Proposals must identify a principal investigator who will act as director. Each proposal must also identify a co-director from an appropriate non-academic partner (government, public sector, third sector or locally-focused policy body). There can be more than 1 co-director.

Proposals must identify a leadership team to lead on proposal development during phase 1, with clearly defined roles. A core team must be in place at the time of application with flexibility to expand this team as required during phase 1.

The mix of disciplinary expertise within the team will reflect the expertise required to address the priority areas of focus identified in the proposal. It is expected that expertise across economics and social sciences, arts and humanities, and environmental sciences will be required. This may be drawn from academic, practitioner or policy partners.

In addition to relevant domain expertise, the leadership team will demonstrate significant expertise in knowledge exchange and knowledge mobilisation. They will be able to demonstrate understanding of existing policy challenges in the geography of interest and how the research relevant to these challenges can be utilised for local benefit. The leadership team will also have demonstrable experience of working with a range of partners, including novel approaches to public and community engagement.

The principal investigator must contribute a significant proportion of their time to the overall leadership and coordination of the grant.

Responsible innovation

Responsible innovation is an integral part of our vision and we expect applicants to consider the benefits, but also the potential negative impacts from their activities.

Find out more about responsible innovation.

Additional funding conditions

The proposed governance for this programme will consist of 2 groups bringing together select priority expertise from the policy and research communities. A funders and policy advisory group will advise on strategic opportunities for external collaboration. The performance and evaluation of the network will be overseen by a funders management group. UKRI will convene and sit on both groups.

LPIPs will be required to engage with these structures and must build in sufficient resource and capacity to attend meetings (up to 3 per year) and undertake required reporting.

Eligible costs

For a full account of eligible grant costs, please see the Je-S guidance for applicants: LPIPs (PDF, 293KB) for this opportunity.

Co-investigators from business, third sector or government bodies will be funded at 100% of eligible costs. The combined costs for non-academic co-investigators must not exceed 30% of the total 100% full economic cost of the grant application.

Refer to ESRC guidance for full details of costs that can be claimed for UK business, third sector or government body co-investigators.

Duration

ESRC will fund up to 10 phase 1 awards for 5 months. Phase 1 awards will be expected to start by 18 April 2023.

Phase 2 LPIP awards will be expected to start in November 2023.

How to apply

Intention to submit

Please complete the intention to submit form by 17 November 2022 at 4pm. This is mandatory. Proposals will not be accepted from applicants who have failed to provide an intention to submit.

Please include the names of the principal investigators, co-investigators and any collaborating organisations confirmed at this stage. This is to help us manage conflicts at the panel assessment stage and will not involve any expert assessment.

Full proposal

You must apply using the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

You can find advice on completing your application in:

We recommend you start your application early.

Your host organisation will also be able to provide advice and guidance.

Submitting your application

Before starting an application, you will need to log in or create an account in Je-S.

When applying:

  1. Select ‘documents’, then ‘new document’
  2. Select ‘call search’
  3. To find the opportunity, search for: LPIPs Phase 1 2023

This will populate:

  • council: ESRC
  • document type: Standard Proposal
  • scheme: Research Grants
  • call/type/mode: LPIPs Phase 1 2023

Once you have completed your application, make sure you ‘submit document’.

You can save completed details in Je-S at any time and return to continue your application later.

All applications need to be submitted through the lead research organisation which in turn must be Je-S registered.

All applicants should consult the team responsible for proposal submissions at their research organisation to confirm how much time they will need to process the application and complete the submission process.

Please leave enough time to ensure that all co-investigators are fully registered on the system. Non-academic co-investigators should seek support from the research office partner during the registration process. This process from start to finish can take up to a month.

Deadline

ESRC must receive your application by 12 January 2023 at 4pm.

You will not be able to apply after this time. Please leave enough time for your proposal to pass through your organisation’s Je-S submission route before this date.

You should ensure you are aware of and follow any internal institutional deadlines that may be in place.

Attachments

The proposal should consist of a completed Je-S form and the following 5 attachments.

Case for support

The case for support forms the main body of your proposal and should clearly address the application requirements as set out above:

  • partnership building, stakeholder and community engagement
  • geographical coverage
  • priority areas of focus
  • leadership and interdisciplinary expertise

It must be a maximum of 6 sides of A4.

Additional attachments

In addition, applicants must attach:

  • justification of resources (maximum 2 sides of A4)
  • Gantt chart (maximum 1 side of A4), including a high-level project plan detailing key milestones and activity
  • CVs (maximum 2 sides of A4), and where appropriate a list of publications (maximum 1 side of A4) for the principal investigator and each co-investigator
  • letters of support from project partners and collaborators

How we will assess your application

Assessment criteria

Applications will be assessed for the quality and feasibility of approach to each of the following:

Partnership building, stakeholder and community engagement

This includes:

  • evidence that foundational relationships are in place with a clearly articulated approach to strengthening and expanding the partnership to include new partners and sectors
  • quality of plans for engagement and co-production with stakeholders, with clear rationale for activities. Activities can be delivered with the resource and time available
  • quality of plans for public and community engagement, with clear rationale for activities. Activities can be delivered with the resource and time available
  • quality of plans for local business and industry engagement, with clear rationale for activities. Activities can be delivered with the resource and time available
  • balance of proposed stakeholders and approach to developing the partnership is appropriate to areas of focus identified, with potential to deliver impact across local policy agendas
  • evidence of a clear approach to responsible research and innovation embedded in plans for delivery
  • evidence of interest and commitment from project partners, with letters of support. A clear approach to working with partners to deliver co-investment requirements. Approach ensures equity across the partnership
  • partnership is clearly positioned in the local research and policy landscape with potential to provide additional unique capability that builds on existing infrastructure

Geographic coverage

This includes:

  • a clear indication of the geographic coverage and relevance to the partnerships, infrastructure and policy challenges referenced in the proposal
  • geographic coverage is proportionate to the scale of full stage investment
  • a clear approach to developing a full evidence rationale for geographic coverage as required at phase 2

Priority areas of focus

At phase 1, applicants are required to select at least 1 priority area from 3 priority themes: economy, community and environment.

This includes:

  • an interdisciplinary team with research expertise across society, the economy and the environment and policy practice with appropriate expertise to develop a phase 2 application
  • team has domain expertise required to address selected priority areas of focus, and potential to make significant contribution to advancing insight in thematic areas at phase 2
  • a clear approach to working with partners and stakeholders to co-create and refine priority areas of focus to ensure alignment with challenges that are high priority for local stakeholders and communities

Leadership and interdisciplinary expertise

This includes:

  • a clear vision for the project, including a well-defined work plan that aligns to the scope of the opportunity and its primary aim of strengthening local capability for innovation, knowledge exchange and research
  • team CVs demonstrate deep domain expertise and strong leadership, including expertise to manage and support complex collaborative relationships
  • coherent leadership and management approach for the development of the phase 2 proposal across the partnership, including risk management. We encourage the use of existing structures where available to avoid duplication
  • evidence of research and knowledge exchange leadership, and track record for research translation in local policy contexts
  • justification of resources requested and value for money. Clear explanation for the scale, timing and resources requested
  • clear commitment to ensure best practice in equality, diversity and inclusion

Assessment process

Applications will be assessed by an expert panel of academic and non-academic members. Panel members will review applications independently and assign scores in advance of the panel meeting.

Scores will be reviewed at the panel meeting and feedback will be made available to applicants. The role of the panel is to make funding recommendations to the funders. The final funding decisions will be made by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

There will be no principal investigator response stage for phase 1 applications.

The commissioning of this programme as a whole will be supported by a portfolio approach which will be applied after a consideration of quality. We will ensure that this programme:

  • serves a variety of areas, for example urban centres, towns, rural areas and coastal communities
  • supports a minimum of 1 Local Policy Innovation Partnership in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland
  • covers a range of priority areas and themes
  • adds value to existing UKRI investment and other portfolios of national-level investment

UKRI reserves the right to modify the assessment process as needed.

Contact details

Get help with developing your proposal

For help and advice on costings and writing your proposal, please contact your research office in the first instance, allowing sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process.

Ask about this funding opportunity

Team mailbox

Email: lpips@ukri.org

Get help with applying through Je-S

Email

jeshelp@je-s.ukri.org

Telephone

01793 444164

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Additional info

Policy context

Reducing regional disparities is recognised by both UK and devolved governments as critical to addressing the economic, social and environmental challenges faced by local communities.

These priorities will be addressed through 12 missions including increased devolution of power in England, improved pay and productivity and improved wellbeing. The ambition is that these will be delivered by 2030.

The UK government also recently published its 2022 Growth Plan capturing the current approach to energy prices, growth and policy decisions including the introduction of investment zones which aim to generate business investment and release land for new homes in communities across the country.

UK government has set out the importance of people and place in delivering the UK’s Net Zero 2050 legal commitment. See GOV.UK’s:

The government has also set out the importance of the role of place in delivering their vision to make the UK a global hub for innovation by 2035 (see GOV.UK’s UK Innovation Strategy: pillar 3).

Each devolved government also sets out its own ‘Programme for Government’ and although approaches across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland vary due to their political, social and economic context, they all contain strong themes which relate to reducing regional disparities. Local economic performance, living and working sustainably, innovation, skills, and better places to work and live feature in the priorities of the devolved governments.

We published our UKRI strategy in March 2022 identifying 6 core objectives, including world-class places. UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is committed to delivering economic, social and cultural benefits from research and innovation to all UK citizens, including by developing research and innovation strengths across the UK in support of levelling up.

This programme will deliver against UKRI’s strategy supporting the development of evidence to inform local, regional and national policies and interventions to address regional disparities and enhance place-based livelihoods and economies.

Research and development: benefits to policy

Developing effective policy interventions which address local challenges requires actionable information in the form of data, evidence of what works and, where appropriate, modelling.

The existing research and policy landscape in the UK is rich in insight, evidence and data but limited support for collaboration and translational activity at a local level can limit capacity to return benefits locally. This initiative aims to leverage the potential in the UK research and development system to better support inclusive and sustainable economic growth, resilience and social development in local communities.

To realise the diverse benefits of research and development, including research, knowledge and data funded by UKRI, researchers need to work with local stakeholders to understand, diagnose, and address specific challenges and opportunities faced at a local level.

They also need to support the capability of local stakeholders to work with research and data. Crucial to delivering successful place-based policies are national and local policy stakeholders (public, third and private sector), including communities. Through partnership working, the research, data and expertise needed to understand local conditions and issues can be identified and partners can develop an understanding of ‘what works’ for a given place.

Definitions of priority areas of focus

Inclusive and sustainable local economic performance

This involves the following:

  • there are substantial economic disparities across the UK, which are found within and between its nations, regions, counties and local areas, characterised by differences in skills, wages and productivity
  • responses to local challenges requires understanding of both systemic and local economic factors, and must be informed by insight about which strategies are most likely to lead to increased levels of growth, wellbeing and quality of life
  • the UK economy faces major structural change, from COVID-19 recovery, to exiting the EU and the transition to net zero, and there is a need to understand how opportunities can be harnessed to generate growth in different areas, while delivering a socially and spatially just transition to a green future
  • data and analytical capability are needed to identify areas where policies and spend should be targeted according to potential and opportunity, in turn leading to the creation of new metrics that help understand economic outcomes for people, businesses and places
  • research is also needed to demonstrate what works in the diffusion of innovation in the context of ‘left-behind’ places
  • evaluation capability is required to support the trialling of innovative interventions, including new methods to account for displacement effects, and understand potential unintended and adverse consequences more broadly

Living and working sustainably in a greener economy

This involves the following:

  • the UK has committed to reaching net zero by 2050, supporting a greener circular UK economy. National and local governments, businesses and public and third sector organisations require high quality evidence concerning the policy and practice changes, investment strategies, and population behaviour shifts needed to deliver a sustainable and biodiverse environment and a net zero society
  • to bring about the scale of transformation needed, place-based pathways to net zero are required across the UK. These will combine strategies for the following. These strategies will realise the economic and societal benefits of protecting, renewing and restoring our natural environment:
    • the creation of new jobs
    • The development and application of new technologies and low-carbon solutions
    • improvements in population health and wellbeing
    • the adaptation of the existing built environment and heritage assets, infrastructure, transport and housing
  • there is now an opportunity for the evolving social, economic, cultural and environmental evidence base to be applied to the specific circumstances that exist within each area, and for new multi-sector collaborative partnerships to be formed to bring together the collective expertise needed to identify new opportunities and solutions
  • co-produced guidance for policy decision making at local, regional and national levels requires examination of individual, community and organisations’ behavioural practices, understanding of place-specific climate-related and bio-diversity challenges, and challenges that restrict access to finance and investment. Collaborative working can lead to the design and evaluation of interventions which will facilitate the transition to more sustainable and equitable high-impact low carbon and nature positive behaviours

Innovation

This involves the following:

  • the discovery, adoption and diffusion of innovations is a key driver of productivity and growth. A successful innovation ecosystem is 1 where businesses can navigate and access the facilities, funding and advice needed to support innovation. Business, universities, public institutions, charitable organisations and private sector investors are all key partners contributing to the innovation ecosystem
  • local economies are enriched by clusters of innovative businesses which attract investment and skilled workers to the area. Intervention and support to build local innovative capacity must be tailored to the needs of business and informed by insight about local, system-wide and sector-specific factors that shape current and future opportunities in the area
  • sectoral challenges are often geographically bounded and dependent on relationships between places (supply chains, infrastructure, transport and access to training, markets goods and services). Business, public and third sector partnerships are essential in addressing these challenges
  • place-based innovation policy can support local institutions to address the needs of the community in the context of local economic development objectives. Greater connectivity to research enables business access to new knowledge, skills and cutting-edge technologies that deliver sustainable economic impact

Skills

This involves the following:

  • the supply and demand of skills in a particular location is rarely aligned. Skill acquisition, a major component of supply, occurs through education, training, apprenticeships, employment and experience. However, access to these acquisition routes will vary depending on transport and education infrastructure, local labour market characteristics and employer provision of opportunity
  • placed-based approaches to tackling supply and demand challenges for emerging and traditional skills must be built upon understanding of community needs, education attainment shortfalls, business and sector requirements, training and employment pathways, and the aspirations and talents of individuals
  • local growth can be supported by improved alignment between demand for skills and the skills that exist in a location, and employers and education providers. Evidence development and mobilisation driven by place-based partnerships is well placed to support local understanding of the acquisition, supply and demand challenges that are the highest priority for local areas
  • evidence and data can inform approaches to targeting education and training resources across a lifetime of learning, supporting firms to invest effectively in skills and training, and boost educational attainment and wellbeing

Communities in their places

This involves the following:

  • cohesive communities can mobilise social capital, tackle placed-based challenges, and identify avenues to bring about social, economic and environmental improvements in their area. Cohesion is at its strongest when there are aligned goals, morals and values between members of the community, local businesses, and the public institutions serving and governing the community
  • greater alignment can bring about increased levels of community trust in public and private organisations, and greater willingness to contribute to community efforts, invest social and financial capital, engage in local culture and tackle local inequality in opportunity
  • communities can be affected by crime, deprivation, inadequate housing, schooling or other poor infrastructure, lack of investment and declining natural environments. The embedding of co-design and co-production methods recognises communities, local organisations and researchers as equal partners, and will help ensure that the most pressing challenges and evidence needs in a location are identified, and that a breadth of expertise is drawn upon to bring about change
  • the practice of engaging and working with communities and the research and evidence required to understand the role of communities in addressing place-based challenges will be central to the LPIP’s ability to deliver against their locally identified priorities. This collaborative approach to priorities, processes and impact can help understand individual and community behaviours, and shape social policies and local services that grow connectedness, build interpersonal and institutional trust and the wellbeing economy, and increase community resilience, and feelings of safety, health, wellbeing and quality of life

Felt experiences and pride in place

This involves the following:

  • nurturing the social fabric of places is an essential aspect of achieving successful place-based policies and practices. Place-based approaches need to develop a richer understanding of the ways in which people interact with place through their everyday routines, built and natural environments, and patterns as residents, visitors, workers and businesses
  • research is needed on developing key concepts such as pride of place, belonging and attachment, satisfaction, and how people feel in and about place
  • this theme will also make connections between these felt experiences and decision-making preferences, including investment preferences from a range of different communities of practice, interest and use. How communities navigate and feel about place change will be key to understanding the short, medium and longer term impacts of place-based policies or practices
  • an understanding of locational preference, place continuities or changes, innovation and economic development will therefore be grounded in a deep understanding and application of knowledge regarding the everyday feelings about place

Cultural recovery

This involves the following:

  • across the 4 nations of the UK, culture and heritage have a clear role to play in place-based recovery and resilience. Understanding the cultural sector in a holistic manner that can capture the contributions that it makes to society and the economy is key to thinking about re-balancing regions, areas and nations
  • ensuring greater access to culture, understanding how and why people engage with culture, and accessing and evidencing the role of culture as both producer and consumer in the economy and society are vital to successful levelling up agendas both across the UK and within areas and regions

Building on existing UKRI infrastructure

Governance

Each Local Policy Innovation Partnership (LPIP) will be designed to address specific local needs and deliver a legacy through building increased capability, partnership and impact. LPIPs will have the freedom to establish the model that works most effectively in their area with partners. However, all LPIPs will be required to ensure they build in the right skills and resource to work across the LPIP network.

Each LPIP will be required to operate a local governance structure that reflects the underpinning partnership capturing public, third and private sector members, as appropriate. Where suitable governance structures already exist, we encourage LPIP proposals to utilise or build on them avoiding duplication and unreasonable demand on partners.

Approach to data

ESRC is the single largest public funder of social and economic research data in the UK. We have invested over £200 million in data collection, creation, curation and delivery over the past 5 years.

ESRC’s data infrastructure strategy sets out ESRC’s commitment to ensuring researchers have simple and seamless access to the best and most comprehensive social science data resources, and are equipped with the leading-edge skills and methods to optimise their use.

ESRC’s data infrastructure provides a foundational pillar for social science research, ensuring high quality data can be used to address challenges in the public benefit and advancing the UK’s reputation as a world leader. We expect ESRC proposals to consider how they can build upon, support and integrate with existing research and innovation infrastructures.

The InfraPortal provides a catalogue of over 750 of the UK’s publicly funded research and innovation infrastructures that are open to use and collaboration. A list of ESRC-funded data infrastructures can be found in the data infrastructure strategy. Resources of relevance to this funding opportunity include:

As an award holder, you must also follow ESRC’s research data policy and common UKRI principles on research data.

Webinars

We held 2 information webinars on the Local Policy Innovation Partnerships programme, which provided opportunity to ask questions about the overarching investment, geographic coverage, priority areas, and partnership building.

Local Policy Innovation Partnerships Phase 1: 7 November 2022

Watch a recording of the webinar on Zoom (passcode: mn.s05!a)

Webinar presentation slides (PDF, 3.2MB)

Strategic Coordination Hub: 8 November 2022

Watch a recording of the webinar on Zoom (passcode: 24F&nj+N)

Webinar presentation slides (PDF, 3.6MB)

Supporting documents

Je-S guidance for applicants: LPIPs (PDF, 293KB)

Equality impact assessment (PDF, 110KB)

This is the integrated website of the seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK.
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