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Southampton wins £1.4 million funding for new retail research network

Published: 
9 October 2008
Neil Wrigley
Southampton wins £1.4 million funding for new retail research network

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has announced funding of £1,454,650 for a new network to build closer links between the retail industry and leading retail researchers. The network will be led by economic geographer and retail specialist Professor Neil Wrigley at the University of Southampton.

The ESRC Retail Industry Business Engagement Network (RIBEN) brings together four of the UK's retail research groups based at the Universities of Southampton, Oxford, Leeds and Surrey.

Together they have some of the strongest existing research partnerships with the retail industry, links that RIBEN will build on to develop closer dialogue and knowledge transfer between UK social scientists and the industry.

Commenting on the announcement, Professor Wrigley said: "RIBEN offers a significant opportunity for Southampton to position itself at the centre of Government and UK Research Council business engagement agendas, and will help create a new generation of social science researchers with first-hand experience of working on issues of relevance to this vitally important industry.

"The network also offers considerable opportunities to promote innovation and enhance competitiveness amongst retail firms in the region via Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) arrangements and via a Business Voucher scheme. The voucher scheme will enable small and medium-sized retail firms to apply to RIBEN for £3,000 vouchers which they can use to access university research relevant to their business innovation needs."

The funding is part of a £6 million investment announced by the ESRC, as part of its commitment to support research and training essential to the international competitiveness of UK business.

RIBEN is one of four Capacity Building Clusters in Business Research and Engagment to be created through this investment. Their aim is to develop closer dialogue and collaboration between social scientists and the business sector through skilled people committed to the co-production of knowledge and its application to the business sector.

The Clusters take as their focus one or more of the priorities set out in the ESRC Business Engagement Strategy and have a five-year grant including a portfolio of training and knowledge exchange activities (including: CASE awards, Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, Business Placements and a Business Voucher Scheme).

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