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Applied Research Through Partnership: the Experience of the Yorkshire and Humberside Regional Research Observatory

By J. Stillwell


Paper presented at a seminar on ‘Los Observatorios Regionales de Políticas Públicas como Herramientas de Gestión de Información: Una Aproximación al Estudio del Rendimiento Autonómico, at the Centro de Estudios de Gestión, Análisis y Información, Campus de Somosaguas, La Universidad Complutense, Madrid, 23-24 November, 2000 \ud Ten years ago, a Regional Research Observatory (ReRO) was established to provide ‘clients’ in Yorkshire and Humberside with a single point access to a region-wide data and analysis service. The Observatory’s portfolio covered activities relating to applied research and consultancy, intelligence, education and training, publications and networking. The first part of the paper explains the concept of the Observatory as it was initially conceived as a form of partnership across all the universities in the region, outlines the structure of the organization that was created, explains the arrangements for operating the Observatory as a partnership initiative, and exemplifies the outputs and achievements during the first half of the decade. \ud \ud In order to facilitate its regional monitoring activities, ReRO constructed a Regional Intelligence Centre (RIC), a customised geographical information system in which to store key data sets and generate a range of statistical indicators for the region as a whole or its constituent parts. The second part of the paper explains the structure of the RIC and its contents. It argues that the main advantage that derives from the construction of such a centre is the value that is added to raw information through data handling and integration, through skilled interpretation and through the provision of new information, maybe in the form of forecasts of what is likely to happen in the future, as well as analyses of what has happened in the past. \ud \ud The third and final part of the paper explores some of the key issues and difficulties relating to the operation of the Observatory and considers some of the reasons that have accounted for its loss of momentum in the last few years. This has occurred over a period of increased political attention to regional administration and planning in the UK, exemplified by the creation of Scottish and Welsh Assemblies and the emergence of Regional Development Agencies and Regional Assemblies across England. A retrospective evaluation demonstrates a number of lessons that have been learnt and provides a number of useful guidelines to those attempting to establish similar structures elsewhere in the developed world

Publisher: School of Geography
Year: 2000
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