Research centre proposals invited

The funders of the independent multidisciplinary research centre for the third sector, announced last July as part of the Government's third sector review, are calling for proposals to establish the centre.

The Economic and Social Research Council, the Office of the Third Sector and the Barrow Cadbury Trust have invested £10.25m over five years to fund the centre, which will provide research and analysis, develop partnerships between researchers and research users and work to strengthen the use of robust evidence to underpin policy on the voluntary and social enterprise sectors.

The centre will be supported by three capacity-building ‘clusters’, each charged with creating a new generation of high-quality researchers to develop data and apply it to the sector. The clusters are expected to cover activities such as giving students the opportunity to study postgraduate qualifications at masters and PhD level to develop skills needed by the sector.

The centre will also set up ‘knowledge transfer partnerships’ to increase the sharing of information between third sector organisations and academia. It will offer opportunities for placements both in academia and with voluntary organisations.

Other plans include a voucher scheme that will allow third sector organisations to buy in academic expertise. A pilot in the east midlands allowed small businesses to benefit from academic knowledge on areas such as how to implement a marketing plan.

Phil Hope, Minister for the Third Sector, said: “The new centre will provide an authoritative basis for decisions by the sector and by those who commission public services or are the targets of its campaigns. I expect the centre to assist, engage and also to challenge both the sector and government.”

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