Evaluation of the Strength in Places Fund

Two engineers in protective gear, one holding a laptop and the other looking at the controls for a robotic arm, photo by nuttawutnuy/Adobe Stock

Photo by nuttawutnuy/Adobe Stock

What is the issue?

In 2017, the UK government announced the Strength in Places Fund (SIPF) in the Industrial Strategy White Paper. This White Paper noted that many of the UK's cities outside the capital underperform against the national average, and that such regional disparities need to be addressed for there to be prosperity across the UK. Science, research, innovation and skills provision are cited as playing an important role in driving productivity and economic growth throughout the regions and nations of the UK, and the White Paper stated the need to 'need to capitalise on these strengths and foster the local ecosystems that can support innovation and sustained growth'.

The Strength in Places Fund is a £312 million competitive funding scheme that takes a place-based approach to research and innovation (R&I) funding. The aim of the Fund is to help areas of the UK build on existing strengths in R&I to deliver benefits for their local economy. The Fund seeks to achieve this aim by supporting innovation-led regional growth and enhancing local R&I collaborations.

How are we helping?

A consortium led by Frontier Economics and comprising RAND Europe and know.consulting were commissioned by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to undertake an evaluation of the Strength in Places Fund. The evaluation consists of an impact evaluation and a process evaluation building on an evaluation framework. The impact evaluation seeks to understand what SPIF has achieved and provide early evidence on Value for Money (VfM). The process evaluation seeks to understand what has worked well and less well in the design and delivery of SPIF and to make recommendations to UKRI for changes to the delivery process. A final evaluation will also incorporate process-related insights from case studies conducted as part of the impact evaluation.