Ulster University-led partnership to address skills-based challenges in Northern Ireland with new UK Government funding

  • A new partnership led by Ulster University has received funding to support local and national policymakers in tackling levelling up challenges, driving sustainable and inclusive economic growth, and reducing regional disparities in Northern Ireland. 

    Ulster University is one of 10 universities from across the UK, and the only university in Northern Ireland, to receive £50,000 of funding for the Local Policy Innovation Partnership scheme, which will build cross-sector partnerships that aim to address policy challenges that matter to local people and communities. The NI Local Policy Innovation Partnership project brings together a large team across Ulster University and Queen’s University Belfast, as well as a diverse range of partners, spanning the whole of Northern Ireland.  

    This funding is provided by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Innovate UK (IUK) and UK Research and Innovation, will enable them to build local partnerships and co-develop a research agenda to deliver strong proposals for phase two, where up to four LPIPs can apply to receive up to £4.8 million each. 

    The NI Local Policy Innovation Partnership will build a network to develop solutions and share best practices which address skills gaps and inequities across a range of sectors and communities. It will bring together a stakeholder partnership and community networks to work on initiatives which aim to address NI’s skills-based challenges. 

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    It will: 

    ·        Assess and map existing evidence, identifying challenges, and collating insight and understanding of good and promising practice relating to skills in NI, 

    ·        Develop a network across diverse NI stakeholders and community representatives with skills-based agendas, and to explore models of collaborative working,  

    ·        Work with stakeholders to identify responses to the identified skills challenges in NI.  

    Professor of Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development, Kristel Miller said: “Northern Ireland faces unique challenges compared to other regions of the UK, even sub-regionally we face disparities. It is exciting to have this opportunity to engage with a wide range of stakeholders, including policymakers and community groups, to co-create a Local Policy Innovation Partnership which can deliver actionable solutions to tackle some of our most pressing skills-based challenges. We are looking forward to building on existing partnerships and developing new cross-sectoral partnerships to enhance the impact that this Local Policy Innovation Partnership can have for businesses and communities across Northern Ireland." 

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    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.” 

    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.” 

    Source: Written from press release 

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