Strength in Places Fund: Strong bids from every region and nation of the UK

21 March 2019

Twenty-four ambitious projects, from pharmaceuticals to aerospace, and transport to the creative economy, are to receive early-stage funding to develop full-stage bids that could lead to significant economic growth in places across the country.

Each of the shortlisted projects from the first wave of UK Research & Innovation's Strength in Places Fund (SIPF) has been awarded up to £50,000 in early-stage funding, which will allow applicants to develop full-stage bids. Teams behind these projects will then submit these bids to UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) in late 2019, with four to eight of the strongest set to receive between £10 million and £50 million each to carry out projects designed to drive substantial economic growth.

Announced as part of the government's Industrial Strategy in November 2017, the SIPF will benefit all nations and regions of the UK by enabling them to tap into the world-class research and innovation capability that is spread right across the country. The fund brings together research organisations, businesses, and local leadership on projects that will lead to significant economic impact, high-value job creation and regional growth.

UK Research & Innovation Chief Executive Professor Sir Mark Walport said:

Our clear vision is to ensure we benefit everyone through knowledge, talent and ideas. Significant support through the Strength in Places Fund will further catalyse economic potential across the country by bringing researchers, industry and regional leadership together to drive sustained growth through world-class research and innovation.

The twenty-four projects span the UK, with all nations and regions of the country represented.

UKRI Lead on the Strength in Places Fund, David Sweeney, said:

There is world-class research and development, and high quality innovation, right across the UK, from excellent research in university departments and public research organisations to initiatives from forward-looking businesses.

UK Research & Innovation's Strength in Places Fund will capitalise on these strengths and foster the local ecosystems that can support innovation and sustained growth, and will strengthen collaboration between industry and our world-class research base. I am delighted with the range of seedcorn bids funded across the UK in the first wave.

SIPF panel chair, Dame Kate Barker, said:

I was delighted to be invited by UK Research & Innovation to chair the SIPF independent expert panel. After considering a large number of expressions of interest from around the country, the panel were pleased to recommend a strong set of bids for funding. These awards demonstrate significant expertise across a wide range of sectors, and the potential for research and innovation partnerships to contribute substantially to increased growth and productivity in areas of local economic activity.

SIPF is a cross-council UKRI programme in partnership with the higher education funding bodies of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and the Office for Students.

The government confirmed in the 2018 Budget that the Strength in Places Fund is to receive a further £120 million to bring the fund budget for the period up to 2021-22 to £236 million.

Further information

Mary Goodchild
External Communications Manager
01793 411939
07710 147485


1. The 24 projects are:


  • CS Connected
    Cardiff University-led bid to grow local compound semiconductor cluster, including a significant provision of training to enhance skills across the region through a compound semiconductor skills academy.
    Tech area: Electronics and Photonics

Northern Ireland

  • Decarbonisation of Maritime Transportation - A return to commercial sailing
    Artemis Technologies-led bid on decarbonisation of maritime transportation through the creation of the UK's most advanced composite design and manufacturing facilities in Belfast Harbour.
    Tech area: Aerospace, Marine, Defence and Space


  • Accelerating the 4th industrial revolution across Scotland's Central Belt
    University of Strathclyde-led bid to boost the economic impact of the burgeoning industrial biotechnology sector in Scotland's Central Belt through the development of biology-based products and platforms.
    Tech area: Bioeconomy

  • Clyde Waterfront Innovation Campus
    University of Glasgow-led bid to create a Clyde Waterfront Innovation Campus to accelerate innovation in the manufacture of new technology based on photonics, optoelectronics and quantum technology.
    Tech area: Electronics and Photonics

  • Global Centre of Excellence in Open Banking (COB)
    FinTech Scotland bid to create a 'Global Centre of Excellence in Open Banking' in Edinburgh, driving the growth of the local fintech cluster.
    Tech area: Financial Technology, Business and Professional Services

  • The Living Lab: Driving economic growth in Glasgow through real world implementation of precision medicine
    University of Glasgow-led bid to drive economic growth in Glasgow by translating science and innovation in precision medicine into a real world clinical setting - boosting productivity growth through expansion of the local life sciences cluster, savings for the National Health Service and a healthier workforce.
    Tech area: Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals

North East

  • Centre for Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing (CESAM)
    A bid from the University of Sunderland on behalf of a consortium to develop the 'Centre for Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing' which will boost productivity in the North East's automotive manufacturing sector by accelerating the development and deployment of manufacturing process innovations.
    Tech area: Manufacturing

  • Establishing the UK Hydrogen Corridor
    TWI along with Leeds, Teesside and Durham universities, NEPIC and the Materials Processing Institute are leading a bid to develop the Leeds - Tees Valley Hydrogen Corridor to drive the use of hydrogen for transport, domestic heating and industrial use.
    Tech area: Energy

  • North East Cluster for Healthy Ageing & Independent Living (NE-CHAIN)
    Newcastle University-led bid to create a 'North East Cluster for Healthy Ageing and Independent Living' which will build on local research & development (R&D) strengths to put Newcastle and the North East at the centre of efforts to develop holistic and innovative solutions to challenges around healthy ageing and independent living.
    Tech area: Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals

North West

  • AI-Enabled Materials Chemistry across the Mersey Basin
    Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Laboratories-led bid to drive 'AI-Enabled Materials Chemistry across the Mersey Basin' by delivering artificial intelligence (AI) tools for digital design and processing of real materials for the benefit of industries and their supply chains.
    Tech area: Chemical Industries and Materials

  • Delivering Integrated Solutions for Human Infections
    Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine-led bid to supercharge the local cluster developing innovative integrated solutions for human infections.
    Tech area: Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals

Yorkshire & Humber

  • Energy Estuary 2.0: Fuelling inclusive economic growth in the Humber
    University of Hull-led bid to establish the Humber Estuary as the most energy resilient region of the UK, driving the growing clean energy industry in the area by supporting innovation in energy storage, conversion, distribution and demand management.
    Tech area: Energy

  • The Glass Corridor - Delivering World-Class Glass Research in the Northern Powerhouse
    Glass Futures Ltd-led bid to grow on world-class research in the Northern Powerhouse and create a global centre of excellence in glass.
    Tech area: Chemical Industries and Materials

  • Medical Technologies in the Leeds City Region: Driving economic growth, improving health and care
    University of Leeds-led bid on boosting the growing MedTech industry in the Leeds city region through strategically aligned investment in tech innovation and advancement, clinical evaluation, infrastructure and multidisciplinary skills.
    Tech area: Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals

    PRISMS will leverage the world-class knowledge base across the Northern Powerhouse to address industry-specific challenges within the chemicals, process and materials sectors. Building on the underpinning Science & Innovation Audits, the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) and the University of York will establish interdisciplinary expertise networks, especially at the interfaces between chemistry, biotechnology and process engineering, to maximise economic growth.
    Tech area: Bioeconomy, Chemical Industries and Materials

East Midlands

  • Growing Rehabilitation Industries Project (GRIP)
    Loughborough University-led bid to grow the local rehabilitation and medical technology sector and create substantial economic growth in the Nottingham / Loughborough / Leicester area.
    Tech area: Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals

West Midlands

  • Med Tech Collaborative Network to enable and Enhance Cross-sector Transformation (CONNECT) West Midlands
    University of Birmingham-led regional consortium that aims to link research development, cross-sector knowledge exchange and innovation in medical technologies, addressing a significant regional productivity gap within this sector and helping existing / new businesses co-create and accelerate development of innovative med-tech products and services to market by leveraging established expertise, partnerships and translational ecosystem.
    Tech area: Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals

South West

  • Cyber Wales and West
    University of Bristol-led bid to build on Wales and South West of England's capability as a centre for cyber R&D.
    Tech area: Digital / Cyber Security

  • The Environmental Intelligence Accelerator
    University of Exeter-led bid to build create the Environmental Intelligence Accelerator, building on the South West's environmental science and digital innovation strengths. The Accelerator will drive productivity and clean growth across private and public sector organisations, including areas such as food production, energy and utilities, construction, finance and insurance, and health.
    Tech area: Enabling Technologies

  • My World
    University of Bristol-led bid to build on the production, technology and research strengths of the Bristol and Bath region in creative media and associated technologies. The project will create major new R&D facilities and collaborations that drive the development of the local cluster and position the region as a world leader for screen-based media.
    Tech area: Creative Economy

Greater London

  • Performing Productivity: Screen, stage and the performing arts for economic growth in the Thames Estuary production corridor
    University of the Arts London-led bid to support the development of performance production arts, and technology, supporting economic infrastructure in the Thames Estuary production corridor, from Stratford through to Essex and Kent. The project will leverage R&D in this sector to increase the productivity of an area with high potential for growth.
    Tech area: Creative Economy

East of England

  • Realising Economic Potential from Agricultural (and Horticultural) Yield (REPAY)
    University of Essex-led bid that aims to improve the productivity of the local rural industry and its related value and supply chains by bringing together researchers, industry and primary producers.
    Tech area: Agri-tech

  • Supply Chain 4.0 Southeast Midlands Hub of Excellence
    Cranfield University-led bid to create a regional hub of Supply Chain 4.0 excellence offering businesses knowledge, expertise and a test bed for new ideas to improve supply chain processes by introducing latest technologies such as robotics and automation, developing analytics capabilities and experimenting with emerging applications such as drones, autonomous vehicles, and deep learning.
    Tech area: Transport and Logistics

South East

  • Growing Kent & Medway
    NIAB EMR-led bid to create the Growing Kent & Medway cluster as a vehicle to drive productivity and sustainable growth in an area with significant socio-economic challenges. This world-class research, innovation and enterprise platform will develop Kent and Medway as the UK's leading region for the production and processing of high-value foods and plant-based compounds.
    Tech area: Agri-tech