Funding to tackle challenges facing Wales’ rural communities

A partnership which includes Cardiff University has received more than £5m in funding to research and explore solutions to rural challenges.

Cymru Wledig LPIP Rural Wales, the Local Policy and Innovation Partnership for Rural Wales, connects researchers, communities, and policy-makers to support inclusive, sustainable development.

Funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the partnership will focus on the challenges of building a regenerative economy, supporting the net zero transition, enhancing health, wellbeing and access to services, and empowering communities and culture, including Welsh language revitalisation.

Professor Paul Milbourne, who is a Co-Director of the Rural Wales Local Policy and Innovation Partnership (LPIP), said: "This award provides a tremendous opportunity for researchers, policy-makers, third-sector organisations and communities to work together to address the key economic, social and environmental challenges facing rural Wales. By generating new datasets, engaging with local communities and exploring place-based approaches to rural development, the Rural Wales LPIP will help to support more inclusive and sustainable futures for the rural region".

A multi-disciplinary team of researchers from Cardiff University is involved in the Rural Wales LPIP, consisting of Professor Paul Milbourne and Professor Scott Orford from the School of Geography and Planning, Professor Rob Evans, Professor James Lewis and Dr Sara MacBride-Stewart from the School of Social Sciences and Dr Alison Parken from the Business School.

The partnership is led by Aberystwyth University, and includes researchers at Bangor University, and the University of Gloucestershire, along with partners including Antur Cymru, the Centre for Alternative Technology, Datblygiadau Egni Gwledig, Represent Us Rural, Rural Health and Care Wales, Together for Change, and industry partner Sgema. The Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research and Data (WISERD), based at Cardiff University, is also feeding into the project.

The three-year work programme will engage with a range of people in innovation labs to develop and test interventions, community-led research projects focused on local concerns, and discussions on critical issues such as land use and net zero. It will also collect new data through surveys and short studies, creating an Online Integrated Evidence Hub for rural Wales.

Professor Alison Park, Head of UKRI’s creating opportunities, improving outcomes theme, said: "Local Policy Innovation Partnerships demonstrate UKRI’s commitment to bringing together a diverse range of partners, from local and devolved government, communities and businesses. Through these long-term collaborations, we will accelerate the use of research and innovation to reduce regional inequalities and drive sustainable, inclusive growth."

The Rural Wales LPIP is one of four Local Policy and Innovation Partnerships funded by the ESRC, with others in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Our researchers are working across disciplines to tackle major challenges facing society, the economy and our environment.