A trailblazing Yorkshire-based research project which includes a new data portal giving communities vital information and major climate change study has secured £5m funding,
The project, the only one to be funded in England, and one of just four in the UK to be awarded UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) investment, will be delivered between now and December, 2026 after a successful bid led by The University of Leeds on behalf of Yorkshire Universities – an innovative partnership of twelve higher education institutions – and other public, private and community sector organisations based in the region.
The funding, part of UKRI’s work to create opportunities and improve outcomes locally, and spread over three years, will enable the region’s academics to work directly in the field with community groups and policymakers on a series of research areas across Yorkshire and Humber identified as priorities in an extensive pre-bid consultation exercise
It will be delivered by a consortium working together as the Yorkshire and Humber Policy Innovation Partnership (Y-PIP) – which comprises all Yorkshire Universities’ members plus, local and mayoral combined authority representatives, the Yorkshire and Humber Policy Engagement and Research Network (Y-PERN), the Yorkshire and Humber Climate Commission (YHCC), Yorkshire and Humber Applied Research Collaboration, and, crucially, local community groups.
Today, delighted officials at Yorkshire Universities said the new funding would enable its members and partners to build on the success of existing work with Y-PERN, and confirmed funded projects included:
- A new Yorkshire and Humber Office of Data Analytics – which will be managed by the University of Sheffield, with support from Y-PERN, YHCC and Y-PIP, to give the public and organisations access to up-to-date, reliable and easy to digest data about the region’s evolving economic, social, and environmental parameters.
Accessible via an online Engagement Portal, the data will feature vital indicators, including health and deprivation measures, employment statistics, such as salaries and workforce demographics, education, ranging from free school meals data to attainment, air quality and housing stock.
Real-time data and information analytics will ensure local communities are given ‘a voice’ to work with policymakers to coordinate initiatives. Crucially, data will be updated regularly based on the needs and research undertaken with community groups, businesses, councils, and the voluntary sector.
- A new Research Centre for Inclusive Growth to help businesses bolster inclusive business practices.
Extensive stakeholder engagement and roundtable events will be held with employers, business groups, chambers of commerce and community groups across the region to provide an in-depth understanding of the opportunities and challenges faced by businesses in attracting and retaining greater diversity of talent.
The research will examine inclusive business practices – how companies recruit and serve –and how improvements can be made in the workplace to mental health and well-being, recruitment, retention, and flexible working. Initially focused on Sheffield, Barnsley and Rotherham, the project will be rolled out across the wider region, and will be led by Sheffield Hallam University, experts in this field.
- Sustainable Living in a Greener Economy Study – there will also be a major climate change study examining everything from the challenges of cutting carbon emissions while reducing inequality and improving wellbeing.
Led by experts from the YHCC, and the University of York’s Stockholm Environment institute, and working in tandem with community groups and policy makers, this research will examine how heritage buildings can meet Net Zero targets and be more energy efficient without damaging structures or impinging on their character. The study will initially be piloted in the City of York and in the rural areas of North Yorkshire, given the number of historical buildings in this part of the region, before being rolled out to other parts of Yorkshire and the Humber.
- Creative Economy Pilot in Bradford – Ahead of its Capital of Culture year in 2025, this project will examine how Bradford, the youngest city in Europe, can bring greater diversity and dynamism to and within local creative industries.
This work will explore how artisans and entrepreneurs from underrepresented groups in Bradford can create start-ups, establish business clusters, develop region-wide networks and access new funding within the arts and creative industries. The findings and lessons from the project will be rolled out to other parts of the region. Support will also be provided for younger residents intent on building careers via the creative economy and entrepreneurship,
Ahead of the successful Y-PIP bid, an extensive consultation exercise took place. Workshops were held across Yorkshire, and which saw 38 public sector, 22 private sector and 30 voluntary and community sector representatives, including residents from disadvantaged and marginalised backgrounds to identify shortfalls, agree priorities and share experiences around the key issues ranging from employment to health and well-being.
Professor Karen Bryan OBE, Chair of Yorkshire Universities (pictured), said: “This is a brilliant example of Yorkshire Universities’ core mission to promote and use research and evidence that relates directly to the issues that matter to communities, businesses and policymakers in the region. This pioneering research project, working in tandem with the existing Y-PERN infrastructure, and building on our strategic partnership with Yorkshire and Humber Councils, will see academics work in partnership with communities to identify policy and practical solutions to help overcome social and economic barriers to learning, jobs and community cohesion, and to realise the many opportunities that Yorkshire has to offer.”