Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Pre-announcement: developing Local Policy Innovation Partnerships

Apply for funding to develop Local Policy Innovation Partnerships (LPIP). The LPIPs will be commissioned through a two-phase competitive process. The full programme will make up to £20 million available over four years. This is the LPIP phase one opportunity.

You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for ESRC funding.

During phase one you must provide resource and support capacity across stakeholders to undertake partnership development and landscape evidence analysis required to design the phase two work programme.

The full economic cost of your phase one project can be up to £50,000. ESRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost. ESRC will fund up to 10 phase one awards for five months.

The full LPIP programme will make up to £20 million available over four years, including the Strategic Coordination Hub.

This is a pre-announcement and the information may change.

The funding opportunity will open in October 2022. More information will be available on this page by then.

Who can apply

This opportunity is led by ESRC in partnership with AHRC and Innovate UK. It is open to interdisciplinary, cross-sectoral collaborative teams with expertise in any disciplines supported by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

Principal investigators must be based at an institution eligible for UKRI funding.

Check if you are eligible for research and innovation funding.

Teams will be expected to address social, economic and environmental challenges facing communities within the geographical area of focus. They must therefore demonstrate significant expertise across the disciplines relevant to the challenges identified.

Teams may involve multiple institutions. The lead organisation will be responsible for submitting the grant application.

Co-investigators from government and local government, third sector and non-profit organisations, and business are eligible and encouraged for this opportunity.

Collaborations beyond academia are required for this opportunity.

We welcome applications from partnerships at different levels of maturity. As a minimum, you will be able to demonstrate an existing working relationship between one research organisation and one local government organisation.

You must show how the funds will enable expansion of the partnerships to include new, diverse stakeholders who will add value given the challenges they will seek to address.

What we're looking for

The LPIP programme will fund a network of local policy innovation partnerships to address social, community, economic and environmental priorities.

LPIPs will connect local policy and research partners, providing research, evidence, data and expertise to take advantage of opportunities and find place-based solutions to challenges that matter to local people and communities. Partnerships will be equitable and sustainable with co-creation and co-delivery at their heart.

Applications should focus on creating a single LPIP in a defined geographical area. Each LPIP will develop and implement a programme of activity to support inclusive and sustainable local growth and improve the quality of life in local communities across the UK. Each LPIP will have a regional footprint with capability to conduct local work within that region.

Interactions between the LPIP network, national stakeholders and wider initiatives will be coordinated and led by a strategic coordination hub (to be awarded through a separate application process).

In support of UK Research and Innovation’s strategic priority to strengthen clusters and partnerships as part of its world-class places objective, LPIPs will deliver the following programme objectives:

  • connecting and catalysing: strengthening partnerships and collaborations between researchers, policymakers and other relevant local stakeholders, attracting resource and capability for research and innovation, knowledge exchange and skills to address local policy challenges
  • local insight and understanding: identifying and understanding the opportunities and challenges in different places and their relationship to the national context
  • solutions focused: working with stakeholders to implement evidence informed actionable solutions that reflect local opportunities and challenges and supporting local leaders to test and trial innovative interventions to drive inclusive and sustainable growth.

To support the delivery of these objectives and ensure the strongest applications are funded, the LPIPs will be commissioned through a two-phased competitive process. The phase one opportunity offers initial seed-corn funding so that applicants may dedicate time to developing partnerships.

The funding is intended to resource the development of high-quality proposals to the phase two opportunity, by ensuring that partnership building is resourced, reflecting the essential role of partners in the public, third and private sectors.

During phase two, each successful LPIP will deliver a co-designed programme of activity that reflects the opportunity aims and objectives.

Each partnership will bring together local stakeholders from a range of sectors and disciplines to address a selection of key local agendas which contribute to inclusive and sustainable local growth, including:

  • inclusive and sustainable local economic performance
  • living and working sustainably in a greener economy
  • innovation
  • skills
  • communities in their places
  • felt experiences and pride in place
  • cultural recovery.

A partnership’s priorities should be defined through high quality, meaningful stakeholder and community engagement. They will consider how these agendas intersect, bringing a holistic approach to the challenges faced. This will involve three major components:

  • identifying and prioritising challenges at the local level that are good candidates for support from research and innovation stakeholders and experts
  • supporting the application of knowledge and evidence through connections with experts, review and synthesis work, developing relevant evaluative frameworks, improved access to and use of available data and funding research or testing solutions to help address the challenges
  • application of diverse data usage and collection methodologies to connect with knowledge embedded in local communities to deepen understanding of challenges.


Together the LPIPs and the strategic coordination hub will support the following outcomes:

  • a ‘what works here’ approach to local policy priorities, supporting areas with:
    • economic growth
    • levelling up
    • net zero
    • innovation
    • skills
    • societal resilience
  • enhanced local research and innovation advice providing a single front-door for local expertise and advice in partnership areas, streamlining access to local public policy research and innovation capability
  • supporting local action through contributing to local implementation, testing and evaluation of evidence-informed policy change
  • improving UK and national policymakers’ understanding of local challenges and opportunities through improved access to stakeholders, local evidence and insights into ‘what works here’
  • creating stronger and more diverse partnerships by investing in the capability and capacity required for multi-partner collaboration, bringing the right stakeholders together at the right time to progress local priorities
  • empowering local communities and enriching knowledge exchange practices by ensuring people and grassroots groups are engaged, listened to, and able to influence local agendas.

LPIPs will undertake an appropriate mix of evidence synthesis and translation, knowledge exchange, public and community engagement, skills and capabilities development, data analysis and, where appropriate, novel primary research, depending on the needs of the area.

Each LPIP will design its own work programme, devising an appropriate approach and appropriate methods, including novel approaches to public and community engagement.

LPIPs should include the capability for responding to urgent challenges including conducting ‘rapid response’ type work.

Phase one

The purpose of phase one is to provide resource and support capacity across stakeholders to undertake the partnership development and landscape evidence analysis required to design the phase two work programme.

You will be expected to deliver the following activities and outputs during phase one:

  • building, strengthening or diversifying partnerships between research organisations and research teams and local stakeholders
  • dialogue and co-creation with communities to further understand needs and surface opportunities for collaboration
  • designing and delivering workshops
  • mapping of relevant local and national administrative data
  • landscape and evidence analysis to build the evidence base for the phase two application
  • establishing an appropriate model for phase two.

You are encouraged to consider examples of existing good practice in community and stakeholder engagement and partnership development drawing on a diverse evidence base including, but not limited to:

  • connected communities
  • an equitable future for research and innovation
  • National Coordinating Center for Public Engagement.

Phase two

The purpose of phase two is to select the strongest partnerships with potential to deliver insights and solutions tailored to local policy agendas.

Successful phase two applicants will deliver an iterative programme of activity to maintain stakeholder relationships and partnerships and commission new activity to inform actionable solutions. Each partnership will bid for resource to staff the LPIP, an initial work programme and a commissioning fund through the second phase application process.

Each LPIP will manage its commissioning fund independently to fund projects. There will be a wide variety of projects given the range of types and scale of challenges they could be supporting. Every project should be working to common and clearly identified goals aligned with the priority areas of focus set out below. Project development and delivery must be underpinned by community participation.

Examples of potential activities and outputs for delivery during phase two:

  • demonstrator and consultancy type projects for local policy development and implementation
  • landscape and evidence analysis including secondary data analysis
  • designing and evaluating evidence informed interventions
  • community engagement to develop and deliver projects, including establishing local ‘citizen science’ and other community-led initiatives
  • developing regional data resources
  • local reports, policy briefings and resources, for example think-kits, toolkits
  • workshops and training programmes
  • building local evidence bases to support policy development and applications for locally focused funding, including commissioning new activity to address gaps in evidence base.

Applicants to phase two will be required to build in sufficient capacity to undertake and engage with LPIP monitoring and evaluation.

LPIP must also build-in the ability to scale its capacity to respond to future opportunities to manage additional funds for example ringfenced pots or fellowships.

The strategic coordination hub will provide support to LPIP proposal development during phase one. Applicants to phase one should therefore demonstrate a willingness to engage with the strategic coordination hub and build capacity into the grant application appropriately.

Engagement with the strategic coordination hub

The strategic coordination hub will be commissioned through a separate opportunity. It will act as an intermediary:

  • learning about the local context and challenges faced in each partnership’s area
  • connecting to broader research and innovation initiatives that can support the LPIPs in addressing those challenges
  • supporting the dissemination and translation of learning and evidence across the network of LPIPs
  • communicating outcomes to policymakers and practitioners at a beyond LPIP stakeholder communities at a local, regional, and national level.

The strategic coordination hub will play a crucial role in connecting LPIPs to the research, learning, expertise and evidence needed to inform effective responses to local priorities. With the support of the strategic coordination hub, LPIPs will be expected to engage with a range of organisations and investments to support their work programme to source the data, insights, and expertise they require at local level. For example:


At phase one, you are required to demonstrate a clear pathway to expanding and diversifying partnerships. Teams must also demonstrate potential to make a significant contribution to developing insight in the selected thematic areas.

You must set out an approach to each of the following.

Partnership building, stakeholder and community engagement

You must demonstrate how existing relationships and networks will be developed and expanded during the phase one award. You should specify the types of activity they plan to undertake and show how the proposed new activity will add value to the existing partnership. You should include an approach to involving partners and communities in proposal development throughout phase one.

You are expected to build on existing partnerships by engaging beyond usual stakeholders, ensuring equitable partnerships and supporting interdisciplinary approaches to deliver policy and practice impact. This may require new groupings of researchers and stakeholders, drawing on strong, existing leadership across related areas.

Capacity for people exchange across the partnership should be built in to the LPIP model. Consideration should be given to embedding stakeholders that are often excluded from the research and innovation ecosystem.

The balance of stakeholder expertise in the partnership (including new and existing relationships) should be clearly aligned to the priority areas of focus. LPIPs are not required to have the full range of partners in place for the phase one application. There is flexibility to expand partnerships as challenges are further defined during the phase one award.

At phase two, you will be required to demonstrate a level of in-kind support appropriate to the nature and scale of the work. We strongly encourage co-investment from outside of this UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) initiative, but it is not a requirement.

Geographic coverage

At phase one, you must provide an indication of the geographical area that the partnership will cover and its relevance to the challenges referenced in the proposal. Each LPIP will serve an applicant-defined geographical area that aligns with the challenges identified. The choice of geography will be underpinned by relationships and partnerships that also support the choice of priority areas of focus.

Each LPIP should have the capacity and capability to conduct work such as deep-dive analysis at a smaller local geography within its defined geography.

Traditional national, regional, and local authority boundaries do not always reflect the social or economic geography most relevant to the challenge being addressed. You may therefore choose to use existing definable geographies but are not restricted by them. For example, using electoral, administrative, health or other boundaries. Read more about UK geographies.

You must provide a clear approach to defining the geography, and reflect the geographic coverage requirements at phase two as follows:

  • LPIP applicants should consider the International Territory Level 1 (ITL) of their lead applicant institution as an indicator of scale, but not a determinant of the boundary (for example, an LPIP may cross ITL 1 boundaries). This is not a rigid requirement, but seeks to encourage a regional equivalent approach. Read the International Territorial Levels 1 and 2 (January 2021) Map in United Kingdom
  • applicants in the devolved nations should reflect the geographies that are most contextually relevant to them as an indicator of scale but not a determinant of the boundary. They may choose to draw on for example, the scale of Regional Economic Partnerships in Scotland, the four regional strategic geographies in Wales or combinations of the 11 local authority areas in Northern Ireland. Geographies proposed in the devolved nations must be reasonably interpretable as areas and regions, and broadly equivalent in scale to the requirements placed on applicants in England.

Partnerships may bring together communities with shared characteristics from different areas or regions, for example coastal areas. Multiregional partnerships will be considered however you must demonstrate:

  • sufficient resourcing to deliver the LPIP objectives
  • the proposals do not substantially replicate existing capability in the UK or devolved nations
  • the proposed model is fit for purpose for stakeholder needs.

You may partner with institutions beyond their area if there is a strong justification that the partnerships are required to address the challenges referenced in the proposal.

Priority areas of focus

Each LPIP will be required to deliver a programme of activity that supports inclusive and sustainable local growth. At phase one, you are required to identify a minimum of three priority areas, driven by local challenges and informed by stakeholder and community engagement, that will form the broad remit for their work programme in phase two from the list below.

Each partnership must cover economy, community and environment in their selection, with an option to define one further priority area. These are not in order of priority.


This includes:

  • inclusive and sustainable local economic performance
  • innovation
  • skills.

This includes:

  • communities in their places
  • felt experiences and pride in place
  • cultural recovery.

This includes living and working sustainably in a greener economy.

Open local priority

This is optional, and is to be decided by applicants.

We recognise that these broad research agendas and priorities identified within them may be highly interconnected. Applicants should highlight connectivity and overlaps between chosen priority areas in the proposal.

You are free to use the options in the list above as cross-cutting themes. For example, environment and greener economy could be used as a perspective from which to view local economic performance or innovation. The priority areas do not have to be considered separately.

You are expected to establish priorities in consultation with local stakeholders and this process should be evidenced in phase one applications. You should also detail how they will work with stakeholders throughout phase one to co-create and further refine priority areas to reflect challenges that are of high priority to local communities.

It is recognised that the priorities indicated at phase one may adjust in further consultation with stakeholders and communities during the phase one award. You will be required to demonstrate at phase two the evidence including stakeholder and community consultation that has informed the phase two priorities.

Leadership and interdisciplinary expertise

Proposals must identify a principal investigator who will act as director. Each proposal must also identify a co-director from an appropriate non-academic partner: government, public sector, third sector or locally focused policy body. There can be more than one co-director.

Proposals must identify a leadership team to lead on proposal development during phase one, with clearly defined roles. A core team must be in place at the time of application with flexibility to expand this team as required during phase one.

The mix of disciplinary expertise within the team will reflect the expertise required to address the priority areas of focus identified in the proposal. It is expected that expertise across economics and social sciences, arts and humanities and environmental sciences will be required this may be drawn from academic, practitioner or policy partners.

In addition to relevant domain expertise, the leadership team will demonstrate significant expertise in knowledge exchange and knowledge mobilisation. They will be able to demonstrate understanding of existing policy challenges in the geography of interest and how the research relevant to these challenges can be utilised for local benefit. The leadership team will also have demonstrable experience of working with a range of partners, including novel approaches to public and community engagement.

The principal investigator must contribute a significant proportion of their time to the overall leadership and coordination of the grant.

Responsible innovation

Responsible innovation is an integral part of our vision and we expect applicants to consider the benefits, but also the potential negative impacts from their activities. Further information can be found on the UKRI good research hub.

Additional funding conditions

The proposed governance for this programme will consist of two groups bringing together select priority expertise from the policy and research communities. A funders and policy advisory group will advise on strategic opportunities for external collaboration. The performance and evaluation of the network will be overseen by a funder’s management group. UKRI will convene and sit on both groups.

LPIPs will be required to engage with these structures and must build in sufficient resource and capacity to attend meetings (up to three per year) and undertake required reporting.

Funding available

The full economic cost of your phase one project can be up to £50,000. ESRC will fund 80% of the full economic cost. ESRC will fund up to 10 awards.

All applicants successful at phase one will be invited to submit a proposal for phase two. Phase two applications will be subject to a separate assessment process. We anticipate awarding a minimum of three grants of a minimum value of £3.5 million per award at 80% full economic cost, for 36 months.

You will be expected to bid for a level of funding that is commensurate to the maturity of the existing partnership and degree to which shared priorities are established. It is expected that partnerships at an earlier stage of development will require a higher level of resource to develop shared agendas and identify opportunities for wider collaboration and extending their reach to a diverse set of stakeholders.

Eligible costs

A full account of eligible grant costs will be included in the full grant specification.

Co-investigators from business, third sector or government body will be funded at 100% of eligible costs. The combined costs for non-academic co-investigators must not exceed 30% of the total 100% full economic cost of the grant application.

Refer to ESRC guidance for full details of costs that can be claimed for UK business, third sector or government body co-investigators.


Funding is available for five months for phase one.

How to apply

There will be a mandatory intention to submit for this opportunity. Full details will be available when the full opportunity is published.

Applications must be made through the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

Your host organisation must be registered for Je-S, and you must hold a Je-S account.

For more information, please contact your organisation’s research office for further guidance.

How we will assess your application

Applications will be assessed and shortlisted by an expert panel in March 2023.

Further details of application requirements and assessment process will be available when the full opportunity is published.

Contact details

Get help with developing your proposal

For help and advice on costings and writing your proposal, please contact your research office in the first instance, allowing sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process.

Ask about this funding opportunity

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