Strength in Places Fund

The UK Industrial Strategy recognised that the UK is home to some of the best universities and research institutions in the world but there remains a need for researchers, businesses and government to work together if the country is to address current weaknesses and take advantage of opportunities. The White Paper recognised the need for large regional disparities to be addressed, highlighting the crucial role science, research, innovation and skills provision play in driving productivity and growth across regions and nationally. Research by the Enterprise Research Centre (2019) showed that across 36 of England’s 38 LEP areas across which data was available 30% or fewer firms were undertaking R&D with the proportion 20% or lower in 15 LEP areas, demonstrating the impetus to drive gains.

The launch of the Strength in Places Fund has been an important development to progress locally specific collaborative research.  Announced in the Industrial Strategy White Paper, the Strength in Places Fund takes a place-based approach to research and innovation funding, to support significant local economic growth. The £236 million flagship fund, delivered by UK Research and Innovation, brings together research organisations, businesses, and local authorities on projects that will boost the highly-skilled, highly-paid jobs of the future and grow the local economy. Although a significant pot of funding, the fund remains extremely competitive meaning there is a need for: the rationale for intervention to be clearly articulated; proposals to be clearly defined; a strong consortium to be assembled; and the anticipated impacts to arise from investment to be evident.  

With 23 Wave One projects now progressing their full stage proposals for submission in September and Wave Two expressions of interest due by 9th October (and shortlisted bids moving on to the second application stage relatively quickly), it is a busy period for the development and refinement of proposals to demonstrate why selected geographies and subject areas should be prioritised for support and how – for those fortunate to secure an award of between £10m and £50m for expenditure over 3-5 years – funds will be spent.

ekosgen is currently supporting both Wave One and Wave Two applicants with services including establishing evidence bases in support of planned interventions, preparing application forms and assessing the potential impacts of intervention. Our team is available to support other schemes progress in Wave One and Wave Two, building on our extensive case-making experience, ranging from strategic investment papers to detailed Green book compliant five case business cases that have helped clients to secure public sector funding from multiple sources including Local Enterprise Partnerships and Government Departments.

For more information, please contact kirsten.powell@ekosgen.co.uk or call 0845 644 3023.