UWE Bristol, as part of the University Alliance (UA), has signed an open letter, alongside over 70 organisations from across the UK, calling for clarity and transparency on the future UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) to avoid vital support disappearing when existing programmes end in 2023.
EU Structural Funds have been a key enabler of collaboration between universities and business, used to support and develop communities and regions; whether through programmes that have increased employment and skills, or through initiatives to drive forward research, innovation and enterprise.
Director of Research, Business and Innovation at UWE Bristol Tracey John said:
EU Structural Funds play a vital role in helping us achieve our ambitious goals for helping businesses within the region.
As a university we have won £13m of EU Structural Funds since 2017, allowing us to leverage £14m of company investment in research and innovation. This in turn has enabled us to help countless SMEs within the region, creating hundreds of new jobs, products and services.
One of the beneficiaries of our funding is 299 Lighting. Talking at an event for companies who have been awarded grants from UWE Bristol, they explained “the funding allowed us to expand our business to the next level… setting up our own manufacturing in Bristol and grow our team and own the product range”. Talking at the same event, The Real Olive Company explained that funding “brought everything into focus and helped us push forward with projects and ideas.”
Without a timely replacement of the funds, we are putting at risk many of the projects and schemes that we run for businesses in the region, which will have a direct impact on the region’s economy, particularly during such times of economic uncertainty.”
University Alliance Chief Executive Vanessa Wilson said:
“EU structural funds have been a vital mechanism for universities to support businesses and communities – especially throughout the pandemic. Details of their replacement, the UKSPF, have been promised but not delivered, and time is running out as we approach the end of the Brexit transition period.
“University and business leaders want to work constructively and proactively with the Government now to address the current economic challenges and reduce inequalities between regions. Given the uncertainty ahead, it has never been more important to deliver the UKSPF, which will be a vehicle for the much-needed long-term planning and investment needed to level-up the nation.”
UWE Bristol is committed to supporting economic development in the region and full supports the need for clarity around these funds.
Follow this link to read the open letter from UA.
Follow this link to find out more about our funds.