Strategic partnerships

What are they?

A strategic partnership is a long-term, mutually beneficial arrangement between NERC and a partner organisation from the business, policy or third sector in which the various parties work together to:

  • share and understand more deeply, and at an early stage, specific strategic interests and needs in environmental science
  • identify opportunities to accelerate and deliver impact by translating existing environmental science into real world applications, tools and solutions
  • contribute to the identification of priorities for new strategic research
  • strongly advocate sustained investment in environmental science and training for the benefit of the UK economy and society.

Why does NERC have them?

We value strategic partnerships because, by building a deeper understanding of the challenges facing our partners, NERC is able to:

  • ensure the outputs of research are relevant and can be fully utilised by organisations working in our priority innovation areas
  • design our research and innovation investments to be of greater relevance to our partners and their wider sectors
  • equip our research community to address the needs of these sectors.

Partners are being sought to develop a balanced portfolio of interest across NERC's six innovation priority areas:

  • Natural resources
  • Sustainable food production
  • Infrastructure
  • Environmental data
  • Risk management
  • Policy and government

How do they operate?

NERC's partnerships have a number of core principles to guide interactions:

  • strategic - demonstrating a strategic need and interest in environmental science across a business or policy area
  • translation-focused - taking existing research outcomes and applying them to challenges and issues of users
  • impact driven - accelerating NERC science impact and capturing this
  • open - delivered through open competition and existing mechanisms to ensure that transparency of opportunity across the NERC community and the best science is used.

NERC invests via our existing funding mechanisms in activities of relevance to the broader landscape which our strategic partners represent. Some examples of this investment so far include:

Co-investment in the ARUP Global Research Challenge 2015 with ESRC.
NERC and the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) have co-invested in the academic component of ARUP's Annual Global Research Challenge focused on the urban environment. We have co-funded four projects: novel technologies to understand relationships between green infrastructure and environmental quality in cities; delivering green infrastructure in cities through a new business model; opportunities of a city-wide circular economy; and, using data to compare the health impact of mobility infrastructure in cities.

Environment Agency short-term, focused internships.
Working with part of the Defra network, NERC has funded three short-term Environment Agency internships focused on: identifying and assessing urban water environment knowledge gaps; identifying natural geological linkages from deep formations to the surface;and, specifically working with the Joint Water Evidence Group in Defra.

Mapping decommissioning relevant research around Shell Brent field.
Working with NERC's existing KE fellow in decommissioning - Kate Gormley - we have further invested in a specific project with Shell to undertake a mapping exercise to identify existing NERC-remit research relevant to decommissioning of storage cells at the Brent oil and gas field, in the North Sea.

More details of our current Strategic Partnerships are available for those interested in becoming partners or understanding the governance of these arrangements