Working in Partnership: European Structural Funds and Simplification - Jennie Shorley Carling, Enterprise Fellow, Centre for Enterprise, Manchester Metropolitan University

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  • 20 minutes10 points to make – 2 minutes per pointAs an insight into our work with structural funds, it has previously been about regional focus and partnerships – I want to understand how partnership works when with a local focus… Enterprise Champions – 1,000 students at MMUThe Knowledge Action Network – led by MMU – 200 SMEs – lead universities of Cumbria and Chester in this project – learning across regions, sidesteps local competition?ESF Graduate Employability Support project – 8 NW universities, who are in direct competition in terms of graduate employability coming together to trial new options and share experience. Partnered with 4 European universities to gain inward learning from the EU on employability. Now sharing. Universities were in general not local competitors, although MMU and Salford for example.
  • professional association representing all practitioners involved in knowledge creation, development and exchange in the UK and Ireland. It is the largest knowledge transfer association in Europe, with more than 1600 members from universities and public sector research establishments.Why focus on partnerships?Partnership has been essential in our non-capital projects at application stageRegional partnership has supported the firms that we work withLEP prominenceAURIL calls for support and partnering

Transcript

  • 1. Working in Partnership: European Structural Funds and Simplification Jennie Shorley Carling Enterprise Fellow, MMU AURIL Council Member UUK Structural Funds and Simplification, 24th April 2014
  • 2. The Centre for Enterprise at MMU Our prior work – regional focus • Enterprise Champions • The Knowledge Action Network • ESF Graduate Employability Support Project www.mmu.cfe Putting Knowledge to Work
  • 3. How has it worked for us? • Multiplier effects – activity has significant business engagement in other areas; placements, internships, projects, research projects • Collaborated regionally in areas where we do not usually • Grown our European expertise and so other opportunities • Resources - Claim time! • Usual difficulties – bureaucracy etc.
  • 4. Why partnerships and simplification? Structural Funds seminar in 2013, key points: • universities must seize the opportunity to lead the innovation dialogue in their region, and help shape the EU funds agenda; • immense amount of experience and knowledge about ‘what works’ in the EU funding sphere is a huge asset that universities can deploy to start this dialogue; • very high levels of collaboration and partnership amongst universities, that, despite its sometimes ‘bad press’, has been catalysed by ERDF/ESF leading to new relationships and other spin-off benefit Survey of members…
  • 5. Context • 70% of respondents are planning to apply for the next round of ERDF/ESF • “despite the horrendous administration”, “… administrative burden, notably at audit, is intolerable” • Some believe that there will be less risk for both • Changes?, 53% anticipate an increased local strategic focus, while 65% say that it is too early to say
  • 6. Current work with LEPs Significant - we work closely with the LEP 52% Developmental - we are working to develop a significant relationship with our LEP 23% Occasional - we do some work with our LEP 3% Infrequent - we have engaged with our LEP, but so far on an ad hoc basis 15% No collaboration 8%
  • 7. Current work with LEPs “So far, we have found it difficult to engage with our local LEP compared with other more high profile Universities which have LEP board membership” “(LEPs) Our University has been heavily involved in the strategic planning process, and continues to support and seek funds for economic development related to its core research activities. . The LEPs have little resource or expertise with which to manage the funds and will solve the issue of how to distribute them in different ways… much learning from previous rounds will be lost” “Uniquely in England, the East region was stuck with Low Carbon theme in the last ERDF regime so we welcome a far broader strategy as proposed by our LEP”
  • 8. The importance of working with LEPs in the new structural funds environment? Comments are varied: – “… our strategic plan has little mention of either our university or indeed innovation” – “Currently seconded to LEP 2 days per week to work on developing Innovation Strategy and shape ESIF funding” Essential 76% Important 16% Quite Useful 3%
  • 9. Partnerships in current projects • Non university partners - local authorities, third sector, private sector, SMEs, NHS etc. • A few none Other universities 57% Other non-universities 9% Both 34%
  • 10. Is partnership working useful for winning and delivering structural funds projects? • “Essential because we need to dovetail with national, regional and local Enterprise Zone strategies” • “The LEPs seem keen on this so it may become essential to have at least some joint projects. They can be problematic to administer” • “Partnering may be useful to win funds, because it is a way of getting sufficient critical mass to meet minimum funding thresholds. In general, partnering with other universities makes for more complex projects, a greatly increased administration burden… and higher risk to our institution (because of less control over how the project is run)” Essential 49% Useful 43% No 8%
  • 11. Support needed to develop partnerships for structural funds projects? • Yes 53% • No 47% “I think that the HEFCE and UUK need to help all HEIs fight the national battle to obtain technical assistance monies for the HE sector” “Support would be welcoming in helping the LEPs recognise benefits of working across boundaries.” “There is a need for familiarisation workshops on the complex EU SIF protocols”
  • 12. Working in partnership on structural funds? Yes… • “The HE sector need to consider a level of co-operation. Applying for structural funds is competitive but equally we need to be sharing as much as we can as a sector so that we maximise the opportunities open to us all” No… • “Almost by definition, a project which needs to be run across several universities is not core business to any and would be better addressed another way (or foregone in favour of more useful activity). There may be good reason to partner with non-HEI organisations, although all the arguments about increased complexity and risk still apply. Projects across sectors are less likely to be about critical mass and more about shared objectives”
  • 13. In Summary: Challenges? • “The geography of the LEP areas means we expect a more parochial view will be taken. The strong voice of local authorities in most LEPs will limit willingness to see "their" funding spent outside the LEP region” • “Geographical scale more difficult to justify specialist projects” • “ being able to bid into a regional pot provided access to a larger budget and the ability to work across five counties” • Partnership • Bureaucracy • Fear of Risk
  • 14. In Summary: Opportunities for HEIs? • Smart Specialisation? “One of the big issues will be working across LEP areas and no-one seems to have a handle on that yet” • Partnerships “Partnership may be more about exchanging good practice, rather than merely collaborating on projects” • Innovation? 22% of LEP funds “increased emphasis on Innovation and possibility for p/g higher level skills being supported through ESF will result in increased opportunities for my institution” • H2020? The desire to see ERDF/ESF working hand in hand to lever in more H2020 monies is an opportunity, and a move towards seeing applied research as a measurable outcome in itself is welcome
  • 15. What next? Change • It is coming! What can we do while waiting? Collaboration • Help the LEPs to cross their boundaries, while foregrounding their area in your work? • What can universities as a group do to drive our needs? Communication • “too early to say” is clear • Communication needed between LEPs, DCLG, EC and applicants Competition • Work in partnership rather than competition?
  • 16. Thank You j.shorley@mmu.ac.uk 0161 247 6736