Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Connecting capability fund

The Connecting Capability Fund (CCF) supports higher education providers in sharing good practice and capacity across the higher education sector, forging external technological, industrial and regional partnerships, and delivering the government’s priorities.

£15 million towards formula funding, £86.4 million towards competitive funding and £25 million towards follow on funding.
Partners involved:
Research England

The scope and what we're doing

The Connecting Capability Fund (CCF) complements the Higher Education Innovation Fund by supporting higher education provider collaboration in commercialisation through competitive projects and formula funds.

The fund aims to strengthen the contribution of English higher education institutions (HEIs) to productivity and economic growth and to delivery of the objectives of the government’s Industrial Strategy. This will be done by enhancing effectiveness in use of the university knowledge base to deliver commercial and business applications and wider applications for the economy and society.

This will happen through stimulating strategic collaboration between HEIs across England which:

  • delivers pooling of knowledge exchange (KE) expertise and capabilities so that businesses and other users can access a range of KE offers or critical mass of knowledge
  • builds capacity to provide cross-university responses to technological or industrial sectoral or interdisciplinary challenges, or to regional alignments and challenges
  • incentivises sharing of expertise in KE and commercialisation and dissemination of good practice across the higher education sector.

There are 18 projects funded by the CCF. Overall, these projects involve 60 higher education providers collaborations and more than 128 individual businesses and investors, as well as wider business investor networks. In addition, more than 13 different local enterprise partnerships are benefitting.

Read more about the projects.

In line with government guidance, we are currently developing proposals for the programme long-term, with allocations to new projects dependent on future public funding decisions.

Research England has allocated an additional £25 million won competitively to 11 CCF projects to expand innovative commercialisation activities across the collaborating universities and partners. This follow-on funding is for one or two-year awards and builds on £86.4 million allocated as the initial investment in the 18 projects over 2018 to 2021.

The follow-on funding aims to expand upon the original project scope – extending activity towards more ambitious outcomes, deepening existing collaborations and developing new ones, and adding activities which realise further benefits from the current projects.

What’s the background to the connecting capability fund?

In its 2016 Autumn Statement, the government allocated additional funding for science and research of £100 million over 2017-2018 to 2020-2021 to incentivise universities to collaborate in commercialisation. This funding was allocated to complement and build on established Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) mechanisms.

£15 million of the CCF was allocated by formula in 2017 to 2018, through a 10% addition to main HEIF institutional allocations.

The CCF funding for 2018-2019 to 2020-2021 has been allocated through competitive project funding, with supported projects beginning from April 2018.

Opportunities, support and resources available

Funding opportunities

Past projects, outcomes and impact

Find out which projects receive Connecting Capability Funding.

Case studies

Read more about the work of some of these projects below:

Interim programme evaluation

In summer 2019 consultants IP Pragmatics were commissioned to carry out an interim review of the programme. The review aimed to provide evidence about the potential impact of the programme (recognising it is too early to get individual project results) to inform decisions about future need and improvements in delivery should the programme be continued.

Read the Interim review of the Connecting Capability Fund programme.

Update to Interim Programme Evaluation

The Update to the interim review of the Connecting Capability Fund programme updates the interim evaluation of the Connecting Capability Fund programme. The Connecting Capability Fund is a distinctive programme focused on generating collaborations between universities to achieve more effective commercialisation with external business partners. A total of £86.4m million was provided to 18 projects involving 54 collaborating universities together with external economic partners running for three years.

The report gives up-to-date evidence on activities since the last publication. The report highlights good progress being made towards the challenging targets of the programme.

Last updated: 27 July 2023

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