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ESRC Local Acceleration Fund Success

Engaging Policy
Supporting Interdisciplinarity

LSSI (Leeds Social Sciences Institute) have been successful in their application for additional funding for the Leeds IAA (Impact Acceleration Account) from the competitive ESRC Local Acceleration Fund (LAF).  

Work will build upon and accelerate the implementation of the twelve recommendations and action plan resulting from the report ‘Unlocking the Potential of Civic Collaboration: A review of research-policy engagement between the University of Leeds and Leeds City Council.’ (published in 2020). It will add considerable momentum to the collaborative work currently being overseen by a joint Reference Group that combines senior leaders from Leeds City Council (LCC) and the University of Leeds, Chaired by Professor Nick Plant (DVC).  

The funding will provide resources of over £70k, from January until the end of June 2022, to fast-track elements of this ongoing joint work.  It has been agreed to prioritise progress on Recommendation 4 for 2021/22, focusing on optimising data analytic capacity and advancing a vision for 'Connected Leeds' (building from the ‘Connected Bradford’ model), where data are shared more effectively between public and academic partners. The award will catalyse this activity, develop infrastructure to support closer collaboration with LCC, and test mechanisms for uptake of evidence into council provision to meet local needs. 

The project goals are to:  

(1) Enable community engagement in a project accelerating the use of data for policy making in local government.  

(2) Test and implement a tool for children and young people understand the carbon footprint of food choices through a school meals pilot.  

(3) Build an online collaboration forum to connect academics with policymakers and ultimately support LCC to utilize research in local policy and practice. 

The development of an online collaboration hub is a key action of the UoL/LCC Review and will underpin the eventual development of a UoL/LCC supported real-time observatory/city dashboard. 

Additional oversight and inter-organisational coordination will be provided by the Collaboration Review Reference Group, which will receive mid- and end-point reports on the grant and are fully committed to supporting this grant application. The Reference Group will also ensure that the lessons and outcomes from this grant will be sustained and built upon beyond the funding period. 

The full announcement about the UKRI ESRC LAF awards can be accessed here: New ESRC awards to support social science advice for local policy