Cover: Evaluation Framework for the Strength in Places Fund

Evaluation Framework for the Strength in Places Fund

A Report for UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)

Published in: UK Research and Innovation website (2021)

Posted on Mar 7, 2023

by Sarah Karlsberg, Susan Guthrie, Andrew Leicester, Advait Deshpande, Will Carpenter, Mann Virdee

The Strength in Places Fund (SIPF) is a UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) competitive funding scheme that takes a 'place-based' approach to research and innovation (R&I) funding. SIPF has awarded 12 projects funding ranging from £18 million to £42 million for R&I programmes lasting around five years. The programme forms part of the wider National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) that will be contributing to the Government's target to reach 2.4% of GDP investment in research and development (R&D) by 2027.

The place-based nature of the fund is a key distinction between SIPF and other R&I funding programmes. Location, and a commitment to build on existing regional strengths, are primary considerations in the allocation of funding, alongside the usual requirements for research excellence and high-quality innovation. The projects must be focused on a specific (self-defined) economic geography with a plan to achieve demonstrable impact on local economic growth.

Funding was awarded in two Waves. In the first Wave, 23 projects were awarded up to £50,000 of seedcorn funding to develop their proposals, with seven selected for full funding in 2020. Total funding for Wave 1 was £187 million. In the second wave, 17 projects were awarded seedcorn funding, and a further five selected for full funding in 2021. Total funding for Wave 2 was £127 million.

In January 2021, a consortium led by Frontier Economics and comprising RAND Europe and was appointed as the Fund-level evaluators for SIPF.

This report sets out the evaluation framework for SIPF, including both a process evaluation, seeking to understand what has worked well and less well in the design and delivery of the Fund and making recommendations for changes to delivery process; and an impact evaluation to understand what SIPF has achieved and provide early evidence on Value for Money (VfM).

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