Strength in Places Fund: New Call

Group People Holding Hands Around Growth ConceptUK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has recently announced the new Strength in Places Fund (SIPF) call through the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

The SIPF call is a two-stage process aimed at bringing together local research organisations, businesses, and leadership to help areas of lower economic activity benefit from world-class research and innovation.
The SIPF was announced by the UK Government as part of the Industrial Strategy White Paper, published in November 2017. In this report it was recognised that there are large regional disparities in productivity and growth that need to be addressed for there to be prosperous communities across the UK (e.g. see Figure 1). The White Paper highlighted the important role that science, research, innovation and skills provision play in driving productivity and economic growth throughout the regions of the UK.

Strength in Places FundFigure 1: Regional Share of Gross Value-Added across the UK (2015) (Data Source: ONS, Statistical bulletin: Regional gross value added (income approach), UK: 1997 to 2015)

The primary aims of the call are:

  1. To support innovation-led relative regional growth by identifying and supporting areas of R&D strengths that are driving clusters of businesses across a range of sizes that have potential to innovate, or to adopt new technologies; so that those clusters will become nationally and internationally competitive.
  2. To enhance local collaborations involving research and innovation.

The SIPF has been developed to complement but not duplicate the high-level aims of other UKRI and UK national programmes.

Key Points:

  • Consortium to be led by a research organisation or business, but must include both business and academic partners.
  • The needs of the local area can be met by existing research strengths.
  •  It is a two-stage call:

Stage 1 Expression of Interest will lead, if successful, to a £50k grant to develop full stage proposals over (and up to) a 6-month period.

Stage 2 Proposals can bid for between £10m and (exceptionally) £50m for a project spanning 3-5 years.

  • The proposal must be aligned to the Strategic Economic Plans for the locality including Local Industries Strategies (to be officially announced March 2019).
  • Bids to be targeted at areas where strong innovation-led projects are aligned to areas of local strength and supply chains that can lead to significant economic impact and growth.
  • Funding is open to any technological areas but must be focussed on a specific area.
    Also see funding FAQs.


  • Call for Expressions of Interest (EOIs): May 2018
  • Closing date for applications: Wednesday 25 July 2018
  •  EOI awards start: Mid October 2018
  • Full stage (invite only) to be submitted April 2019
  • Full awards start June 2019

If you have any questions about the SIPF Fund or would like support with a different  application then please Contact Us.
Information obtained and modified from the NERC SIPF call page.