Since our last Social Mobility Innovation Partnership SMIP City Regions newsletter edition circulation, I wanted to write and share the update that despite making it to final interview stage unfortunately we were not successful in securing phase 2 funding from UK Research and Innovation.

With this outcome in mind, I wanted to take the opportunity to extend my sincere thanks for your support of Bristol city-region SMIP phase 1activity through workshop, steering or advisory group attendance and in-kind contributions. Looking ahead it is absolutely our intention to build on the incredible partnerships and engagement for phase 1 activity, harnessing collective and unified action to address city-region inequalities and strengthened collaboration through the Bristol’s Civic University Agreement.

Additionally extending thanks to our core team partners for SMIP: City Regions phase 1 activity: The University of Bristol, Black South-West Network, Babbasa, Bristol Green Capital Partnership, the West of England Combined Authority and Bristol City Council for their invaluable support and contributions.

We would like to take the opportunity to pause and reflect in order to explore and build on opportunities for further engagement in the new year, but in the meantime extending the partnership’s thanks, warmest wishes and seasons greetings.


The Social Mobility Innovation Partnership (SMIP) City Regions is one of 10 Local Policy Innovation Partnerships (LPIPs) programme that have been designed to support local and national policymakers in tackling levelling up challenges, driving sustainable and inclusive economic growth, and reducing regional disparities in the UK.

The scheme seeks to build cross-sector partnerships that aim to address policy challenges that matter to local people and communities by:

  • Generating insight and understanding into local challenges and opportunities
  • Working with stakeholders to implement evidence-informed, actionable solutions

Images taken from SMIP workshops

Two-phase Funding

In phase one of the programme, 10 LPIPs each received up to £50,000 of seed corn funding.

This funding enabled the SMIP: City Regions to build local city-region partnerships and co-develop a research agenda to deliver a proposal for phase two, where up to four LPIPs will each receive up to £4.8 million.

Having delivered phase one of SMIP activity, we have now submitted our phase two bid and are anticipating outcomes to be announced November 2023.

Social Mobility Innovation Partnership (SMIP) City Regions

The Social Mobility Innovation Partnership (SMIP): city regions phase one activity brought together community partners, policy makers, city leaders, local industry, data scientists and researchers to analyse barriers to social mobility, establish which can be most effectively tackled in a local context and co-create effective interventions and research agendas that seek to make a real impact on those barriers if successful with our phase two submission.

The SMIP: City Regions is built on a solid partnership led by University of the West of England in close collaboration with the University of Bristol, with engaged partners from regional policy and community organisations: Bristol City Council, West of England Combined Authority, Black South West Network, Babbasa, and Bristol Green Capital Partnership. Our Partnership for this impactful social mobility demonstrator is embedded in the Bristol city region and focused on the unique place-based challenges faced within city contexts.

Phase one involved a series of Listening Partnerships delivered at accessible community spaces across Bristol, attended by over 90 community partners, policy makers, academic researchers and industry representatives. Recognising the unique knowledge these representatives bring to local policy agendas.

Each Listening Partnership comprised two workshops and looked at social mobility through three thematic lenses:

  • Access to Education, Skills and Meaningful Employment Opportunities
  • Sustainable Living and Places
  • Culture and Identity

These lenses were co-developed with Co-Is and partners during development of phase one and reflect key challenges in Bristol’s One City Plan – a city-wide initiative bringing together a wide range of public, private, voluntary and third sector partners to make Bristol fairer, healthier and more sustainable.

Our collaborative and equitable approach to policy engagement meant that Listening Partnerships galvanised significant city-region interest and high-quality engagement across multiple sessions.


If successful with our phase 2 submission, the SMIP will deliver improved social mobility in city regions across the UK and beyond, with Bristol as a demonstrator. We will identify and respond to social mobility challenges, developing, trialling and evaluating interventions that can be shared and used by other city regions. Our approach is based on community and academic co-production using insights from cutting-edge evidence. At the heart of our vision is a deep-rooted, long-term and equitable collaboration between community organisations, universities, policymakers and employers. We will work together to address entrenched inequalities that hinder social mobility and thereby foster genuine inclusive and sustainable change.



We'd love to hear from you. Email for more information on the project.