Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: UK research partnership investment fund

The UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF) supports investment in higher education facilities across the UK. Universities must attract a further £2 from non-public sources for every £1 invested by the fund.

Budget:
£900 million awarded to 53 projects across 6 rounds since 2012.
Partners involved:
Research England, Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, Scottish Funding Council, Department for the Economy Northern Ireland.

The scope and what we're doing

UKRPIF is a competitive grant funding scheme designed to support investment in higher education research facilities and drive research partnerships. It is the largest scheme managed by Research England.

A unique and fundamental feature of the scheme is the double match funding that is required from non-public investors. This means for every £1 awarded through UKRPIF, universities must attract £2 from other sources.

To date, UKRPIF projects have secured commitments of over £2 billion of co-investment from industry partners, charitable organisations and philanthropic donors.

Established in 2012, the scheme will have provided over £900 million of capital funding to 53 state-of-the-art research centres and facilities in universities across the UK by the end of 2022.

Over half of the projects are now operational, creating new space for academics to work alongside clinicians, industrial partners and local small and medium-sized enterprises.

What UKRPIF funds

UKRPIF provides funding for large-scale capital projects that underpin excellent research. The funding can be used to support the development of research infrastructure, this includes new buildings, major refurbishment of existing facilities, or the purchase of high-cost research equipment.

Applications need to demonstrate how the new facilities will further the higher education provider’s capability to deliver excellent research that will support the realisation of the UK government’s research and development ambitions; strengthen existing and support new partnerships; and unlock private investment.

Objectives

The objectives of UKRPIF are to:

  • enhance the research facilities of universities undertaking world-leading research
  • encourage strategic partnerships between universities and other organisations active in research
  • stimulate additional investment in higher education research
  • strengthen the contribution of the research base to economic growth

UKRPIF: Net Zero (pilot fund)

UKRPIF: Net Zero is an £18.9 million pilot funding initiative designed to support capital activities which will reduce the carbon emissions of existing UKRPIF-funded research facilities and make the research processes they support more environmentally sustainable. Funded activity will also support the core aims of the wider UKRPIF programme.

In 2021, UK higher education providers were invited to apply, on a competitive basis, for capital grants to enhance, upgrade and adapt existing UKRPIF-supported infrastructure and capital projects. As a pilot initiative, the funding opportunity aimed to support a range of activity to widen the understanding of best practice in environmental sustainability-focused capital projects.

Past projects, outcomes and impact

UKRPIF projects

Summary of projects funded by UKRPIF.

With 39 projects now complete, Research England is starting to realise some of the benefits of the UKRPIF investment. These include:

  • increase in translational research transforming discovery science into healthcare solutions
  • standard-setting and thought leadership establishing research centres in the UK as leaders of industry standards
  • positive impact on international collaborations including partnerships with universities, industry and charities outside of the UK
  • co-location of academic staff with industry representatives and partner employees, fostering knowledge exchange and shared expertise across groups
  • positive impact on research outputs such as academic papers, policy white papers, licences and patents
  • changes to operating models, including the replacement of dispersed research equipment spread across labs, by single, open-plan laboratories
  • positive impact on market readiness of research for use by consumers and society with products rolled out, patent applications and revenues from intellectual property
  • increase in PhD student numbers and post-doctoral research associates linked to the prevalence of industry sponsorship in UK Research Partnership Investment Fund facilities

In 2017 Belmana Consulting and Middlesex University carried out an interim evaluation of the UKRPIF scheme.

Interim evaluation of the UKRPIF available on the UK Government Web Archive.

Research England is developing an evaluation framework to measure the impact of the fund at the programme level. A pilot evaluation was completed in 2020 to inform this work.

UKRPIF impact assessment, published in March 2017.

UKRPIF: Net Zero (pilot fund) outcomes

Summaries of the 9 projects supported through UKRPIF: Net Zero.

Bids for UKRPIF: Net Zero were assessed on 3 main criteria:

  • how proposed activity linked to an original UKRPIF project, including its research objectives and engagement with new or existing strategic research partners.
  • the potential contribution of proposed activity to reduce emissions and contribute to the knowledge base for addressing net zero targets and sustainable practices within capital infrastructure.
  • the value for money benefits of the intended activity and coherence of project and financial planning

Who to contact

Ask a question about the investment fund

Email: researchpartnership@re.ukri.org

Governance, management and panels

Research England administers the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund in partnership with the devolved funding bodies to deliver the programme UK wide:

  • Higher Education Funding Council for Wales
  • Scottish Funding Council
  • Department for the Economy Northern Ireland

Assessment panel membership for UKRPIF round 7 funding competition

  • Dr Robert Sorrell (panel chair), Chair of the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) Science and Technology Advisory Committee and non-executive Director on the NPL board
  • Professor Sir John Pethica, Materials Physicist, Trinity College Dublin and University of Oxford
  • Dawn Bonfield, Royal Society Entrepreneur in Residence, King’s College London and Visiting Professor of Inclusive Engineering, Aston University
  • Heidi Bridger, Deputy Director of Innovation Infrastructure, Innovate UK
  • Dr Allaine Cerwonka, Director of Turing International and Associate Director of the Artificial Intelligence for Science and Government Programme, The Alan Turing Institute
  • Dr Paul De Sousa, Co-founder and Scientific Director, Stroma Therapeutics
  • Dame Janet Finch, former Vice-Chancellor of Keele University, Honorary Professor of Sociology, The University of Manchester, and member of the Research England Council
  • Professor Paul Shiels, Professor of Geroscience, University of Glasgow
  • Dr Peter Simpson, private consultant, and Honorary Chair, The University of Manchester
  • Professor Deborah Roberts, Chief Executive and Director of Science, The James Hutton Institute

Last updated: 9 January 2023

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