As Developing Healthy Communities, we are thrilled to announce our collaboration with Ulster University and Northwest Community Network on an innovative pilot project. This initiative addresses the systemic obstacles that often arise when community groups and researchers strive to work in unison.

Our community-based partnerships in Derry~Londonderry have successfully secured £91,286 from the Ideas Fund for this groundbreaking project. This fund is a grants program managed by the British Science Association and generously financed by Wellcome.

The core of this project will be the creation of a joint community research and innovation collective, orchestrated by the University and our community partners. This collective's primary objective is to expand upon the learnings obtained from individual community projects already funded by the Ideas Fund. Furthermore, we aim to adopt a more strategic methodology in shaping systems that bolster collaboration between community partners and university-based researchers more effectively.

Once an initial mapping process is completed, the collective will organize a sequence of events. These will extend invitations to our community partners to visit Ulster University's Derry~Londonderry campus. The intent is to highlight ongoing work and to cultivate opportunities that encourage the inception of new, collaborative initiatives.

Welcoming news of the funding, Malachy Ó Néill, Director of Regional Development at Ulster University, said: “We are delighted to secure this funding from the British Science Association, with partners, North West Community Network and Developing Healthy Communities, to develop a formal community and university research consortium. Together we are committed to co-creating and collaborating on new research opportunities, to share existing university and community-based research, to strengthen and establish new connections with community partners and to develop an innovative approach to collaborative research that has real impact in and for our local communities.”

Edel O’Doherty, Chief Executive of Developing Healthy Communities, said:

“The investment from the Ideas Fund provides an opportunity for community-based organisations to access valuable expertise from researchers in Ulster University. The unique

approach adopted by the Ideas Fund offers multiple benefits to the partners involved, including forging genuine relationships across the sectors, creating new perspectives, and taking an evidence-based approach to grassroots community health improvement.”

Roisin McLaughlin, North West Community Network added:

“We are very excited about this work and are looking forward to strengthening relationships between community and the university and to develop an environment where community-university equitable partnerships will thrive. We hope this work will leave a legacy as community and university work in partnership together to develop a community research collective.”

Chris Manion, Head of Grants, Ideas Fund:

“We’re delighted to be supporting this new project, building on the incredible momentum that has developed around The Ideas Fund so far. We’ve seen so many examples of the brilliant things that can happen when communities take the lead in working with researchers – this new grant will help the partners to explore how to embed the approach as a way of working. North West Community Network, Developing Healthy Communities and Ulster University have shown great commitment to working together and we’re excited to see how this work develops in the coming months.”