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Yorkshire universities awarded £3.9m to help inform decision-makers


Bradford city centre

Yorkshire’s universities will lend their research expertise to assist policymakers in a bid to boost the regional economy, as part of a £3.9m collaboration.

The ambitious project - Yorkshire and Humber Policy Engagement and Research Network (Y-PERN) - began as an informal network during the pandemic but has now been officially launched by Yorkshire Universities, which acts as a collective voice for 12 higher education institutions.

The University of Bradford will be part of the steering group and will supply a ‘policy fellow’ dedicated to researching topics that are likely to have a beneficial impact on the Yorkshire economy.

Professor David Spicer, from the University’s award-winning School of Management said: “This is about engaging with policymakers on some really important decisions - decisions that will have a positive effect on businesses and organisations, and which will ultimately improve people’s lives. It’s also about changing attitudes and perceptions and looking at Yorkshire as the economic powerhouse of the North.

“The way we will know if it is successful is by demonstrating genuine impact on the decision making processes in Yorkshire and then finding evidence that that helps economic prosperity.”

He added: “It’s an exciting project because it is effectively pooling knowledge and resources from Yorkshire’s universities.”

Prof David Spicer

Above: Professor David Spicer, from the University of Bradford

What is Y-PERN?

Research England has awarded £3.9m in funding over three years, to a consortium led by Yorkshire Universities to establish Y-PERN.

Y-PERN’s objectives are twofold. First, it will provide policymakers with immediate insights and evidence on how to tackle the most pressing economic and social challenges facing the region.

Second, the project will help to build sustainable analytical capacity and capability that will widen and deepen knowledge and understanding about Yorkshire’s future growth and long-term development.

It will help produce things like economic forecasts and look at opportunities and risks to the Yorkshire economy.

Why is it important?

Professor Karen Bryan OBE, Chair of Yorkshire Universities, said: “This is a unique initiative, which involves all twelve member institutions of Yorkshire Universities, drawing upon diverse and complementary research strengths. Y-PERN aligns perfectly with our new 2022-25 Strategy, which is focused on informing public policy with practice that is underpinned by research, innovation and knowledge exchange.”

By providing regional leaders and Government with direct access to research, Y-PERN will inform major policy interventions and investment decisions. The network will also provide insights into what types of public policy have worked in the past, and what might be successful in the future.

Y-PERN will be driven by a team of ‘policy fellows’ located within Hull and East Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, and York and North Yorkshire, and advised by an independent panel of academic experts. Leeds University Business School will manage the project on behalf of the partnership that includes Yorkshire Universities; Yorkshire and Humber Councils; South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority; West Yorkshire Combined Authority; Hull and East Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership; and York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

Cobbled street  in Bradford

What impact will Y-PERN have?

Yorkshire’s universities contribute £3bn each year to the region’s economy and play a critical role in generating jobs, creating innovation, talent, and enterprise, and driving productivity.

Y-PERN will harness the research talents and expertise of all Yorkshire’s universities. National and local government will be encouraged to use the findings Y-PERN presents in policy interventions that can improve the region’s prosperity, infrastructure and inward-investment.

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