Four Innovation Fellowships awarded to SHAPE researchers for Whitehall collaborations

8 Apr 2024

Hackney town hall, London

Four researchers have been awarded funding as part of the British Academy's Innovation Fellowships scheme for partnerships with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), focusing on the themes of governance, trust and voice.

The research projects will explore the best ways to develop effective multi-level governance structures in the UK which encourage participation, engagement and cooperation.

The overarching aim of the Innovation Fellowships Scheme is to strengthen the UK government's capacity to identify and respond to local, regional and national needs for evidence and research that will help tackle major looming policy challenges.

The 2022-23 Innovation Fellowships Scheme – Route B: Policy-led (Governance, Trust and Voice) awardees are:

Please note: Awards are arranged alphabetically by surname of the grant recipient. The institution is that given at the time of application.

Dr Jon Burchell 


The Impact of National Funding Drivers on Defining and Shaping Local Place-Based Initiatives

University of Sheffield


In recent years, there has been a growing commitment to a more integrated, collaborative form of policy making, at a local level. This form of 'place-based' policy has been identified as a key aspect in creating more responsive approaches embedded in the needs, skills and resources of local communities. National funding and policy streams sometimes struggle to connect effectively with the needs and objectives of the local authorities and partners driving place-based initiatives. This mismatch can relate to the timing and requirements of funding, but challenges also exist because place-based approaches span different policy areas located in different national policy departments. This research will look at how we can better connect national and local policy to support place-based working; examining how and where funding flows from national departments to support place-based activities and whether a more connected approach might lead to a more effective and efficient use of resources.

Dr Anastasios Kitsos 


Entrepreneurship and People as drivers of Local Resilience and Economic Growth

Aston University


This fellowship proposes new research and a set of dissemination and policy-related activities to contribute to the DLUHC’s activities on Local Resilience and Economic Growth. Economic crises are a historic recurrence with uneven spatial impacts and hysteretic effects that can permanently alter local development trajectories. As such, the study of local resilience, its drivers, and policies to enhance it, has become more pertinent than ever. In this fellowship, I aim to use my skills and experience in quantitative analysis of local economic resilience to test the role of entrepreneurship in resilience and the interplay between resilience of place and people in local areas in the UK. In line with the needs of the levelling up team at the DLUHC, the research will be accompanied by non-academic outputs (blog posts, policy briefings, workshops) to disseminate its findings and look at its policy implications following the Academy’s and SHAPE’s principles of positive impact for people.

Dr Simona Rasciute


Levelling up on Health and Wellbeing: Developing Data Infrastructure and Models to Identify Inequality Drivers

Loughborough University


In close collaboration with the ONS, I will contribute to the Academy’s work on Governance, Trust and Voice. I will create an integrated data infrastructure by linking data at individual level with contextual factors at household, neighbourhood, local authority, regional and national levels. The econometric analysis will identify drivers of health and wellbeing inequalities in relation to, for example, access to healthcare, cultural and heritage assets, green and blue spaces, education and skills, trust and pride in the local area, loneliness and fear of crime. The analysis will reveal how such drivers interact with each other and to what extent they reinforce each other, agglomerating the disadvantage. The analysis will help identify multiple targeted interventions, which will facilitate coordinated decision-making across multi-level and intergovernmental structures. It will enable national and local policy makers to reach those most in need, identify problems early on and co-ordinate support across sectors and geographies.

Dr Enrico Vanino


Uncovering the Hidden Innovators: using big data to develop comprehensive measures of firm innovation and regional tech specialisation

University of Sheffield


This project will make use of advanced data science techniques applied to big data on publicly funded R&D and innovation activities in the UK, combined with other administrative and alternative datasets, to develop new comprehensive measures of innovation and regional technological specialisation. Currently, most innovation measures are based either on self-reported surveys for a small sample of large R&D investors, or on innovation outcomes databases, which represent only a limited portion of innovation activities. However, innovation could take many different forms, and the current metrics are not sufficient to provide a clear picture of the innovative activities of firms and regions. This project will provide a comprehensive picture of firms’ innovativeness and regional technological specialisation across the UK, capturing aspects of hidden innovation which have not been considered so far by traditional metrics, and identifying innovators among underrepresented segments of the business population operating in low-tech industries and regions.

The awards listed are those for the 2022-23 round of the Innovation Fellowships Scheme – Route B: Policy-led (Governance, Trust and Voice). Previous award announcements can be found on the Innovation Fellowships Scheme Route B: Policy-led past awards page.

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