Networks to strengthen public’s role in research and innovation

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has awarded 25 grants in the first phase of its £3.6 million Community Research Networks programme.

The programme will empower communities to develop grassroots research agendas and build capability and expertise in community-led forms of research and innovation.

The investment is supporting 25 collaborations, who have each received £25,000 for the initial expression of interest phase.

Over the next six months, collaborations will work with local communities to develop detailed plans for a network in their area. They will be given the opportunity to bid for a share of £3 million later this year.

Building new research collaborations

The collaborations are made up of a rich diversity of organisations, all over the UK, that recognise the value of creating new forms of locally relevant, community owned knowledge and evidence.

Whether social enterprises, local councils, museums, city farms and wildlife trusts or universities and arts organisations, these organisations are working together to build a more open, inclusive and diverse research and innovation system.

A new approach to funding

The Community Research Networks programme represents a shift in the way UKRI funds public engagement. It responds directly to our public engagement strategy goal to “make sure the benefits of research and innovation are shared widely by supporting collaboration and valuing diverse forms of knowledge”.

The scheme was developed in response to scoping research undertaken by the Young Foundation, a summary of which can be seen in their report: an equitable future for research and innovation.

Beyond the Community Research Networks programme, we are:

Valuing diverse knowledge and expertise

Too many communities across the UK feel that research is done to them, and not with or for them. Through this programme, communities will come together to identify and undertake research that matters to them, in ways that ensure the benefits remain with the community.

This way of working recognises and values the knowledge that communities hold about the issues they face and the solutions required. Through the networks, this knowledge and expertise will combine with and complement academic knowledge to create thriving local research ecosystems.

Responding to priorities

Tom Saunders, Head of Public Engagement at UKRI said:

This programme demonstrates the enthusiasm for new forms of research and innovation that respond to the priorities of communities across the UK.

These exciting collaborations are paving the way for a more open, diverse and connected research and innovation endeavour and I’m really looking forward to seeing what they can achieve.

By recognising, valuing and harnessing the knowledge and expertise of communities we can ensure that research and innovation is something that more people can contribute to and benefit from.

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