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Working in Partnership: European Structural Funds and Simplification. Jennie Shorley Carling Enterprise Fellow, MMU AURIL Council Member UUK Structural Funds and Simplification, 24 th April 2014. The Centre for Enterprise at MMU Our prior work – regional focus. Enterprise Champions

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Working in partnership european structural funds and simplification

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

The centre for enterprise at mmu our prior work regional focus

The Centre for Enterprise at MMU SimplificationOur prior work – regional focus

Enterprise Champions

The Knowledge Action Network

ESF Graduate Employability Support Project


Putting Knowledge to Work

How has it worked for us
How has it worked for us? Simplification

  • 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.

Working in partnership european structural funds and simplification

  • Why partnerships and simplification? 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…

Context Simplification

  • 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

Current work with leps
Current work with LEPs Simplification

Current work with leps1
Current work with LEPs Simplification

“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… muchlearning 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”

The importance of working with leps in the new structural funds environment
The importance Simplificationof working with LEPsin 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”

Partnerships in current projects
Partnerships in current projects Simplification

  • Non university partners - local authorities, third sector, private sector, SMEs, NHS etc.

  • A few none

Is partnership working useful for winning and delivering structural funds projects
Is partnership working useful for winning Simplificationand 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)”

Support needed to develop partnerships for structural funds projects
Support needed to develop Simplificationpartnerships 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”

Working in partnership on structural funds
Working in partnership Simplificationon structuralfunds?


  • “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”


  • “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”

In summary challenges
In Summary: Challenges? Simplification

  • “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

In summary opportunities for heis
In Summary: Opportunities for HEIs? Simplification

  • 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

What next
What next? Simplification


  • It is coming! What can we do while waiting?


  • 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?


  • “too early to say” is clear

  • Communication needed between LEPs, DCLG, EC and applicants


  • Work in partnership rather than competition?

Working in partnership european structural funds and simplification

Thank You Simplification

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