The University of Stirling has won a successful bid in the first step of a multi-million pound levelling up programme designed to benefit all four nations of the UK.
The University’s Faculty of Social Sciences will use a seed fund of £50,000 to build local partnerships and head up a research agenda for the programme, which has wide-reaching implications for sustainable economic growth in the UK.
A Local Policy Innovation Partnership (LPIP) made up of the University of Stirling, Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Scottish Water will optimise outcomes from water and water resources using the Forth Water Basin, which extends across seven of Scotland’s local authorities.
The Stirling LPIP has a three-pronged aim: to promote sustainable and inclusive economic growth; to promote community resilience and empowerment; and to build productive and harmonious relationships between human and natural systems.
Professor Richard Simmons, Senior Lecturer in Social and Public Policy at the University of Stirling, said: “We’re delighted to be part of the first phase of this important programme, which has the backing of everyone from chambers of commerce to health service partners, private businesses to tiny startups. This development project is about building connections and opportunities between communities and stakeholders. Although water is at its heart, this project is also about the health and wellbeing of water users.”
The nationwide network of LPIPs will contribute to a £23 million programme tackling the UK’s levelling up challenges, to drive sustainable and inclusive economic growth and reduce regional disparities. The LPIPs programme is funded via UK Research and Innovation, Economic and Social Research Council, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and Innovate UK.
Economic and Social Research Council Interim Executive Chair, Professor Alison Park said: “From bridging skills gaps to promoting cultural recovery and building a greener economy, the LPIPs present an exciting new way of using the UK’s strengths in research and innovation to contribute to developing place-based solutions to some of the UK’s most pressing local and regional challenges.
“This first round of funding will enable the LPIPs to build the robust, wide-reaching partnerships necessary to give their proposals the best possible chance of delivering real results for communities and the country as a whole.”
Minister of State for Science, Research and Innovation George Freeman MP said: “Research and innovation is the ultimate engine for local growth in the UK, as shown by the impact of high-tech and science clusters across every region of the UK, from Cornwall to the Highlands. But in order to build on this potential, we need detailed knowledge of what works in the places where growth is needed the most.
“The Local Policy Innovation Partnerships represent a fantastic opportunity to gather that knowledge and insight, ensuring cross-pollination of ideas and sharing of expertise between stakeholders at both a local and a national level, delivering real benefits and growth.”