NERC to make up to £5m available to boost regional impact from its research

16 December 2015

NERC is set to introduce a brand new, ambitious scheme to help the UK's regions benefit from its world-leading research.

The scheme, called the Environmental Science Impact Programme (ESIP), will encourage the UK's top research organisations to work with businesses and policymakers in their area to generate a range of economic and societal benefits.

Old couple looking out a window at rain

Household affected by the 2007 floods in Tewkesbury, United Kingdom.

The aim is to help them translate excellent NERC-funded research into actions or policies that improve performance, resilience and sustainability, and support local growth.

This could include using their expertise to address challenges that affect their region, such as protecting roads, buildings and other vital infrastructure from environmental risks like extreme weather and flooding; managing rivers, lakes and other water resources sustainably; or increasing a region's expertise in a growing industry, such as marine robotics.

NERC funding produces a wealth of world-class knowledge, expertise and skills, as well as technologies, tools and data, that can lead to substantial benefits for the environment, the UK economy and society at both a national and regional level. The UK's best research organisations also contain a valuable concentration of highly-skilled people, facilities and know-how.

This means there are huge opportunities for research organisations and regional partnerships, businesses, policymakers and other non-academic organisations to work together, combining research excellence with local strengths to deliver considerable economic gains.

But building the relationships to develop these benefits takes time and effort. This scheme aims to provide the necessary support.

NERC's chief executive, Professor Duncan Wingham, said:

I'm extremely pleased to be launching this programme, which will help the country's regions profit from NERC's world-class environmental research by making it much easier for ambitious research organisations to work with business, policymakers and other non-academic organisations. I'm proud of the excellent science we fund. It has the potential to greatly benefit the UK's regions, by strengthening local economies and improving the economic performance, resilience and sustainability of communities.

Smaller-scale pilot schemes have shown that, if universities are empowered to take their innovation funding decisions locally, they can provide timely investment in activities that yield strong benefits. The larger scale of ESIP, compared with previous initiatives, will give applicants who understand their regional economy the scope and security to be creative and forward-thinking in their approach to solving the big environmental challenges facing the country.

This new approach will make it easier for the UK's top research organisations to propose highly ambitious programmes that will achieve transformative impact.

Up to £5 million will be available to eligible organisations, including NERC's world-class research centres, to work in partnership with businesses and policymakers to translate environmental science into practice.

The focus will be on an integrated approach at an institutional level. The geographical reach of this impact may range from local to global, and can include societal and economic benefits. But the realisable economic gains will be regional.

NERC invites research organisations with a strong portfolio of NERC-funded research to apply through ESIP calls for a five-year programme of activity with an overall value of up to £5 million.

Further information

Tamera Jones
NERC media office
01793 411561
07917 557215


1. NERC is the UK's main agency for funding and managing research, training and knowledge exchange in the environmental sciences. Our work covers the full range of atmospheric, Earth, biological, terrestrial and aquatic science, from the deep oceans to the upper atmosphere and from the poles to the equator. We coordinate some of the world's most exciting research projects, tackling major issues such as climate change, environmental influences on human health, the genetic make-up of life on Earth, and much more. NERC is a non-departmental public body. We receive around £330 million of annual funding from the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills. This year marks NERC's 50th anniversary.

2. NERC's research centres - the British Antarctic Survey, the British Geological Survey, the National Oceanography Centre, the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, the National Centre for Earth Observation.