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Yorkshire & Humber Policy Engagement & Research Network (Y-PERN) launches

⌚ Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

We are delighted to see the launch of Y-PERN, the Yorkshire and Humber Policy Engagement and Research Network which will bring together universities across Yorkshire with the region’s 22 local authorities and 2 mayoral authorities, alongside Local Enterprise Partnerships. It will support projects to drive research and knowledge exchange addressing key place-based policy challenges across the region.

The project has recently been awarded £3.9m of funding from the Research England Development (RED) Fund, a £27 million annual fund that supports institutional strategic developmental projects in higher education research and knowledge exchange.

Y-PERN is a novel network-based approach to inclusive and place-based academic policy engagement and research. By enhancing the effectiveness of inclusive regional development policy and strategy, Y-PERN will play a critical role in fulfilling the commitment made in the Memorandum of Understanding between Yorkshire Universities (YU) and Yorkshire and Humber Councils (YHC) to work together to identify actions and solutions to some of the major opportunities and challenges facing the region.

CAPE Fellow Richard Whittle has been closely involved in the development of Y-PERN, which will expand the embedded policy fellowship model he has piloted, working closely with Yorkshire Universities across the Yorkshire region. This explored how embedding knowledge brokerage capacity can support place-based policymaking processes, with a particular focus on post-pandemic economic recovery. Through his CAPE fellowship, Richard was able to work closely with YU’s Executive Director, Peter O’Brien, and its members in West Yorkshire to build links with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) and individual local. This included working with WYCA on projects as diverse as the future of retail and violence against women and girls; developing economic nowcasts and forecasts for West Yorkshire; and building collaborations and networks between universities in West Yorkshire and key policy actors. Through his fellowship, Richard also developed a model for academic-policy engagement which informed the development of Y-PERN.

Richard Whittle, CAPE Fellow, said:

“My CAPE fellowship was vital in developing the foundation for Y-PERN. I am delighted to be leading a full team of policy fellows in Yorkshire and working with policy partners on the cost of living crisis, and beyond. The CAPE fellowship provides an enormous opportunity for academics to enter the policy sphere and to engage on topics of national importance. The need for academic policy engagement has never been more urgent, Y-PERN will help unlock the skills and expertise of the regions universities to further support policy makers and policy professionals across Yorkshire.”

Peter O’Brien, Executive Director of Yorkshire Universities, said:

“The West Yorkshire CAPE Fellowship with Yorkshire Universities has played an invaluable role in strengthening existing collaborations between our member institutions, and in making a practical difference to policymaking in the region.

Crucially, the Fellowship, led by Richard Whittle, provided the evidence base for Y-PERN, which is an inclusive model of academic-policy engagement that reflects and respects diversity, but also binds together different institutions and places in Yorkshire under a common goal of making a real difference to people, places and businesses in the region.”

Sarah Chaytor, CAPE Co-Investigator, said:

“Y-PERN represents a really exciting development in building academic-policy engagement capacity and in bringing together an extensive partnership to address place-based challenges in Yorkshire. It’s fantastic to see the role that Richard’s CAPE fellowship played in seeding Y-PERN, demonstrating the value of embedding engagement between research and policy, and enabling this ambitious and important project.”