UK’s Leading Bodies Join Forces to Suggest Improvements to the European Union Structural Fund in Sup

Dr David Bembo, AURIL Chair commented, “There is a widely accepted, and growing, view that universities and public sector research establishments have the potential to be catalytic in driving regional economic growth. ERDF is a very important and very welcome funding intervention with the potential to assist institutions in making their full contribution to regional economic development and placing that economic development more centrally in their institutional strategies. This is especially true in regions where current Business R&D spend is very low and where the business base is dominated by small and medium sized companies. The innovation community wants to ensure that ERDF can play its maximum role in enhancing economic impact and the joint letter – which contains a mixture of suggested actions for the short and longer term - is aimed at making ERDF as accessible and as effective as it possibly can be for the benefit of regions across the UK, including the devolved administrations.”

Universities are principally concerned regarding the level of financial risk associated with accepting ERDF support which is a major disincentive to full participation.  Other recommendations also include:

  • Adopting a nationally approved university indirect cost rate for ERDF rates based on Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) methodology, the standard method used for costing in higher education in the UK.
  • Responsibility accepted by administering authorities for State Aid to overcome major difficulties and inefficiencies for universities and many other organisations.
  • Recognition that economic development projects addressing difficult economic development issues are high risk projects but those that are adventurous or early stage should not be placed at a relative disadvantage or overlooked purely on the basis of estimated outputs.
  • Enabling innovation projects to work across all ERDF eligible areas in the UK and allowing sufficient scope for participants outside ERDF eligible areas to incur project expenditure to benefit economically active entities within.

Dr Sue O’Hare, PraxisUnico Chair said, “We recognise that these issues will not be resolved in the short term and will require further discussion in the European Commission but our belief is that simplifying ERDF would benefit the organisations involved in project delivery across Europe and for managing authorities for ERDF.”

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Notes and additional information

Please click these links for open letter and executive summary.

About PraxisUnico

PraxisUnico is the UK’s leading research commercialisation association and a not-for-profit educational organisation set up to support innovation and commercialisation of public sector and charity research for social and economic impact.  PraxisUnico encourages innovation and acts as a voice for the research commercialisation profession, facilitating the interaction between the public sector research base, business and government.  PraxisUnico provides a forum for best practice exchange, underpinned by first-class training and development programmes.


AURIL is the professional association representing practitioners involved in knowledge creation, development and exchange in the UK and Ireland who work to ensure that new ideas, technologies and innovations flow from their institution into the market place. It is the largest knowledge transfer association in Europe, with more than 1600 members from universities and public sector research establishments.

The Association enjoys widespread international recognition through its success in influencing UK government policy. It has strong working relations with the Confederation of British Industry, Universities UK, the UKIPO, the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), HM Treasury and Higher Education Funding Councils, in partnership with whom it has produced many publications.

About ARMA

ARMA is the professional association for research managers and administrators in the UK, with over 2,000 individual members from across 200 organisations, ranging from universities and funding bodies to the National Health Service and independent research institutions. ARMA’s mission is to enhance the profession of research management and administration, and to facilitate excellence in research through identifying, establishing and exchanging good practice in research management and administration. ARMA provides members with professional development, networking opportunities, guidance for supporting excellence in research and a platform for national and international engagement and collaboration.