QR Strategic Priorities Fund


A key aim of QR Strategic Priorities Fund (QR SPF) is to support universities to link effectively with policy research priorities and opportunities, from the local to the international. The funding supports universities in undertaking research with local, regional, national and international structures (including parliament, central government, devolved administrations, local government, health and education bodies, the justice system and other regulatory organisations).


What can QR SPF be used for?

Allocations may be used to build on activity already under way, and to build capacity for future activity. Relevant research activity which might be funded includes:

  • New research activity working in partnership with policymakers, particularly to better understand local, regional or national challenges
  • Extending existing research activity;
  • Facilitating the use of existing research and the exchange of knowledge between universities and policymakers;
  • Activity aimed at improving the dialogue between universities and policymakers;
  • Activity and training to better equip academics, including postgraduate researchers and early career researchers, to communicate effectively with policymakers;
  • Partnerships and collaborations aimed at supporting evidence-based policy making;
  • The exchange of people, e.g. staff secondments, contributing towards professional doctorates in policy, joint PhDs, etc.

How are universities’ allocations calculated?

In financial year 2020-21 a total of £29.1 million will be distributed to institutions eligible to receive funding from Research England in proportion to their research income from UK central government bodies, local authorities and health and hospital authorities. The calculation is based on an average of relevant research income for years 2015-16 to 2018-19 reported in the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) Finance record and the Office for Students (OfS) Annual Financial Return. To ensure that funds are of sufficient scale to have an impact, we will allocate £50,000 to those institutions for which the formula-driven allocation is less than this amount (but where the HESA Finance record indicates that they have some existing activity in this area), while the amount any one university might receive is capped at £1 million.

What guidance is there for researchers and professional services staff new to policy engagement with research?

A number of organisations offer guidance and resource for universities on working with policymakers:

What are universities’ allocations this year?

QR SPF allocations for financial year 2020-21 (PDF, 405KB).