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 rand.org 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 know.consulting 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).

Research conducted by

This report is part of the RAND external publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.