This is the first of 2 expected Place Based Impact Acceleration Account (PBIAA) funding rounds. We anticipate the second opportunity will be of similar scale and be launched in government financial year 2023 to 2024.
What is a PBIAA?
Our institutional Impact Acceleration Accounts (IAA) are strategic awards that provide flexible funding to research organisations enabling them to drive impacts from their research portfolio through a wide range of activities. Our PBIAAs offer a new complementary funding approach intended to enhance the capabilities of clusters and drive regional growth. Key features of PBIAAs are as follows:
- a focus on developing place-based impact (meaning, a more concentrated delivery of impact that drives benefits within a research and innovation cluster)
- delivery through a consortium approach that encourages collaboration on impact between UK universities, and with civic bodies and businesses
- broadening access to impact funding for eligible research organisations, enabling all those with a relevant research portfolio to contribute
In this opportunity we define ‘the consortium’ as containing a minimum of 2 applicant universities plus other eligible research organisations as appropriate. Leadership or membership of the consortium is not restricted to current EPSRC IAA holders.
PBIAAs will enable impact from the engineering and physical sciences research of several universities to be realised within a defined research and innovation cluster, in collaboration with civic bodies and businesses operating within that cluster. EPSRC requires PBIAAs to be co-created with civic actors and aligned with civic ambitions. The programme of impact activities should therefore be tailored to the needs of the place. PBIAAs and their activities should be at least 50% within the EPSRC’s remit but activities delivered need not link to prior EPSRC funding.
You can prepare proposals against 2 funding streams:
- stream 1 (targeting emerging or nascent clusters): estimate 3 to 5 awards with maximum £2.5 million per award, over 4 years
- stream 2 (targeting established or mature clusters): estimate 3 to 5 awards with maximum £5 million per award, over 4 years
The resource level requested should be evidenced and commensurate with the maturity of the cluster, its absorptive capacity, and the place and consortium partners’ ability to realise impact. Similarly, we expect the activities delivered to be tailored to the needs of the place.
Focus of your application
You should clearly define and describe your focus, ensuring this is meaningful to the civic organisations involved, and allows the inclusion of key stakeholders, including businesses, that will underpin and support growth. PBIAAs will support similar activities to our institutional IAAs but they must deliver impact within a target cluster. We ask you to define your:
- geographic focus: there should be a clear description of the geography of the target cluster. This does not need to be a single location where there are unifying characteristics between the locations included (for example, shipping ports) or where clusters are connected across several sites (for example, as a result of their supply chain or other activity). The geographic area should be of a scale proportionate to the level of investment requested, and the cluster’s absorptive capacity
- thematic focus: the thematic focus should have relevance to the interests of the cluster and the discovery or mission-inspired priorities described in EPSRCs’ strategic delivery plan
Co-creation and civic support
We expect applications to be co-created between consortia members and 1 or more civic organisations that have an interest in developing the identified cluster. Involvement of relevant publics or businesses in this co-creation process is also encouraged.
The funding will allow consortia to operate in flexible, responsive and creative ways that align with civic, business and university strategies. We expect to see integration with existing local research and development, impact, knowledge exchange and business activities. The PBIAA should complement and provide additionality, it should not be used to duplicate or ‘top up’ existing local or UK Research and Innovation investments.
PBIAAs should aim to deliver benefit to the cluster in the short and long term. These benefits may include (but are not restricted to):
- local and regional economic growth, skills development, job creation or retention
- increased private investment, including foreign direct investment, in a specific place
- cluster development including through knowledge diffusion, supply chain development, small and medium-sized enterprise growth, generation and growth of spin outs
- development of research, development and innovation infrastructures
Examples (non-exhaustive) of organisations we consider to have a civic role:
- enterprise, development or skills bodies (such as local enterprise partnerships or devolved equivalents)
- local authorities, councils or combined authorities
- growth, city, and region deals
- devolved administrations and their agencies (noting projects still need to be focused on clusters or geography sub-national level)
- regional or local industrial bodies
- local NHS trusts
We do not consider international bodies to have a civic role. They can however be included as project partners on proposals where it is appropriate to the aims of the scheme and your PBIAA application.
Examples (non-exhaustive) of possible support from civic bodies:
- involvement in PBIAA governance
- access to innovation or knowledge exchange activity
- secondments to or from PBIAA activities or projects
- supporting or facilitating networking and engagement beyond the consortium
- supporting policy development and delivery
- direct adoption of research outputs
- market assessments
Flexible resource to support the involvement of non-consortia members (hereafter referred to as ‘the collaborative fund’)
Consortium membership is not a pre-requisite to receive funding from a PBIAA. While consortia members must have demonstrable strengths aligned to the cluster, PBIAAs should seek to ensure they are drawing on the full strengths of the UK. You should have clear plans to engage local stakeholders relevant to the cluster (including the business and public where appropriate) in order to understand their needs and challenges.
Insights should then be translated into impact activities that enable funds to be administered supporting universities beyond the consortium to contribute. This should include consideration of institutions with smaller or specialised world class portfolios that can contribute to the success of the PBIAA. The collaborative fund may be used to support the involvement of civic bodies where appropriate and necessary.
We expect to see public engagement as an integral component to PBIAAs. We ask you to capitalise on the place-based nature of these awards to build collaborative relationships that engage publics both within the target place and beyond (where appropriate). You should seek to develop co-production methods that enable equity in relationships and a sense of shared commitment to the objectives of the PBIAA between researchers, civic partners and communities. We particularly encourage efforts to involve and engage with underrepresented groups.
We encourage you to be creative in your public engagement approaches but also to draw on existing expertise and networks. Value can also be added by appropriate involvement and engagement with other relevant actors to ensure maximum impact of any activity is achieved.
Further guidance and information can be found:
Institutions may only submit 1 application as lead institution (not 1 per stream). Your team should include relevant domain experts and where appropriate involve relevant institutional level impact leads. We expect the principal investigator to be a domain expert with skills and expertise relevant to the cluster and delivery of the PBIAA.
You are reminded that you can include expertise from beyond the engineering and physical sciences disciplines and should do so, if appropriate and beneficial.
Expertise in entrepreneurship and regional development, innovation research and management, innovation and productivity growth, regional productivity, regional economic development, regional innovation ecosystems, public engagement are likely to be useful in supporting the growth and development of clusters.
While we encourage multidisciplinary teams, applications should be at least 50% within EPSRC remit.
Equality, diversity and inclusion, and responsible innovation
Promoting equality, diversity and inclusion is an integral part of our vision to deliver new knowledge and an enriched, healthier, more sustainable and resilient society and culture, and to contribute to a prosperous economy.
Responsible innovation is also an integral part of our vision and we expect you to consider the benefits, but also potential impacts from your activities.
You are expected to work within the EPSRC framework for responsible innovation. Please see our trusted research pages for guidance on getting the most out of international collaboration whilst protecting intellectual property, sensitive research and personal information.
You are asked to carefully consider how your budget is allocated, including the balance between the consortium resource and the collaborative fund and should also consider the research portfolio within and outside of the consortia, and the needs of the cluster.
PBIAAs may be used to fund:
- consortium management costs: 80% full economic cost
- staff managing and coordinating the delivery of the IAA funding across the consortium (meaning, a PBIAA manager) can be supported. Up to 15% of the budget (to a maximum of £500,000) can be used for management staff costs
- consortium resource and collaborative fund (projects and other activities) 100% directly incurred costs:
- impact project costs: directly incurred projects costs can be claimed, this includes staff time and travel and subsistence
- support to involve civic bodies where appropriate and necessary
- other engagement, knowledge exchange, training and culture change activities can also be supported
PBIAAs can support similar activities to our institutional IAAs but all activities must deliver impact within the cluster.
Funding can be used to support a wide range of activities that support the scheme aims, including:
- engaging users and forging new strategic partnerships
- building the clusters capability and culture
- progressing towards commercial opportunities, whatever best fits the strategic aims and opportunities of the cluster
We encourage the development of creative and innovative approaches to accelerating impact and building or enhancing ecosystems. Activities could include:
- strengthening engagement with local users and their networks or supply chains to accelerate the translation of research outputs into place-based impacts
- building and maintaining a local environment and culture that enables effective and ambitious knowledge exchange and impact, including development of skills, capacity and capability within the consortium and for the identified cluster
- supporting, developing and fostering strategic partnerships as part of place-based knowledge exchange and impact activity, including across disciplines and sectors
- providing early-stage support for progressing research outputs towards the next stages in the impact pipeline, for example:
- proof of concept projects
- market validation
- activities targeting policy, business and the third sector
- driving continuous improvement in impact by supporting innovation, enabling ‘fast failure’, and capturing learning through appropriate mechanisms
- enabling flexible and adaptive approaches to knowledge exchange and impact, including the ability to respond quickly to emerging opportunities
- dedicated resource to support the engagement of, and impact activities involving institutions and their researchers from outside of the consortia
- public engagement (please see ‘Public engagement’ section)
PBIAAs may not be used to support:
- new fundamental research
- impact activities that should already have been anticipated and supported through standard routes, for example impact activities costed as part of basic research proposals or Centre for Doctoral Trainings
- broader activities and institutional culture change relating to impact
- duplication of other sources of funding that can be used more appropriately for the impact activity within remit of research council
- any costs relating to intellectual property protection including but not limited to registering, maintaining, or supporting patents or property rights
- undergraduate or postgraduate activities or training, or core PhD training including tuition or bench fees
- contributions to Knowledge Transfer Partnerships
We encourage you to read the recent report ‘Evidence of what works: research and innovation and place’ and to consider how your PBIAA might be used to support research and innovation activities that lead to positive place based outcomes in particular by:
- building the components of the ecosystem, either by strengthening (or evolving) existing components, creating new components, and breaking path dependency
- building the links within the ecosystem
- building capacity and leadership
EPSRC approach to equipment funding
Where possible, researchers are asked to make use of existing facilities and equipment, including those hosted at other universities. If equipment is needed as part of the proposal, you must follow EPSRC’s rules for requesting equipment over £10,000 in value.
Individual items of equipment between £10,000 and £400,000 can be included on proposals if the equipment is essential to the proposed activity and if no appropriate alternative provision can be accessed. Where equipment is requested, we expect to see a robust strategic case for how equipment will maximise the impact from research, enable collaboration with business and ultimately drive benefits within the cluster and society in general.
The purchase of equipment to undertake non-impact focused research is out of scope for this opportunity. EPSRC will contribute 80% of the final purchase price and will expect the research organisation or project partner to contribute the remainder (20%) from non-EPSRC funding.
You must attach a letter of support from the research organisation or project partner detailing the proposed contribution to the cost of the equipment. All requested equipment funding must be identified at the point of application.
More information is available on our guidance for equipment on research grants.
Smaller items of equipment (individually under £10,000) should be in the ‘directly incurred – other costs’ heading.
See EPSRC approach to equipment funding.