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'Measuring Success in Co-production: Learning by Doing' - funding available soon!

July 27, 2023

Connecting and supporting people to work in equal partnership is our passion at Co-Production Collective! We’re motivated to understand the value that collaboration and working to the principles of co-production offers individuals, communities, societies and culture. This piece of work follows on from our previous Co-production Pilot Projects and the Value of Co-Production Research Project published in October 2022. This work highlighted some areas that we wanted to dig deeper into. These are the fact that:

  • The impact of co-production is often under-explored.
  • Co-produced initiatives are rarely formally evaluated.

How do we propose to do this? An exciting announcement...!

You may remember our previous blog where we announced £150,000 of Research England participatory research funding and were looking to recruit co-producers to help us develop this pathway. For the past few months, our team have been getting to know each other and working together on an approach to allocate a proportion of this funding. As such, we are pleased to announce the next steps on this journey and let you know that:

  • A funding pot will be opening soon!
  • The pot will fund five to seven projects; each of which will receive £10,000-15,000.

Our hope is to connect and support a range of people to develop projects across the themes of - mental health and wellbeing and/or climate change – involving researchers, community partners and co-producers with lived experience to work together, learn and capture what changes as a result of meaningful co-production. You may already have connections, relationships and ideas about projects, or you may want some help in networking to make these connections. Our team brings together a diverse range of expertise and lived/living experiences which have designed a funding process to help you be involved in this process, whatever stage you are at with your relationships and thinking.

Accessibility and equity are integral to our approach at Co-Production Collective so we aim to champion this and build capabilities to accommodate different needs to maximise inclusion in the programme. For example, by providing multiple different accessible to all ways to apply for the funding.

Our team brings together people with a diverse range of expertise and lived/living experiences will be supporting these projects. The team includes:

What is the focus of this programme?

Our focus, and that of the projects we fund as part of this piece of work, will be on creating good conditions for co-production, and on learning more about how to evaluate, share and learn about good practice along the way. 'Recommendations from the Value of Co-production suggest that evaluation is enhanced when co-produced projects:

  • Are effectively resourced
  • Not only consider outcomes, but also how all team members are affected during their journeys.'

This has been our emphasis throughout the development of this programme. With plenty of reflective practice built in as we evaluate ourselves and our ways of working in developing, supporting and generating outputs.

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) which assesses research and the impact it is having at a national level in this country has this year made some changes. REF 2028 will see a move away from the assessment of the performance of individuals to the contribution institutions and disciplines make to healthy, dynamic and inclusive research environments. ‘Engagement and impact’ is one of the re-named criteria which really emphasises the importance of this work we are doing in relation to research. Nick Hiller, representing The Academy of Medical Sciences, shared his reflections on what is important in understanding the ‘value of co-production’ for them as a supportive and involved partner in this process.

“There’s a big and bold commitment in the Academy of Medical Sciences ten year strategy to ‘meaningfully involve patients and the public across all our activities and in the way we work’. But until we can understand and measure what meaningful involvement is, we won’t know if we are getting anywhere close to making a difference. Being part of this project means the Academy can work with others who are driven to answer the same question. Together we can share experiences and ideas to understand the journey to as much as the destination of meaningful involvement – and that’s been a fantastic experience so far!”

These are a few wise words from Lynn Laidlaw, one of our Co-producers about this and how she is hoping to build on the impacts from her previous experience.

“I was involved in the Value of Co production research  project, mainly with the rapid systematic review . One of our findings was that the impact of co-producing research was rarely evaluated, we recommended the need to develop ways to co produce evaluation, involving everyone. But also recognising that the impact was both in the co- production journey as well as the destination (project outcome).
I had such a great experience co- producing the rapid systematic review, using my co-production experience, learning new skills and building relationships with the team that I jumped at the chance to apply for this project. It feels fantastic to contribute what I have learnt and collaborate with the wonderful team on such an important topic.”

Key dates for your diary

Friday 11 August 2023 - registration for the Programme and Funding Launch Session will open. Tuesday 12 September 2023 - 13.00-15:00 Programme and Funding Launch session. After Tuesday 12 September 2023 - we invite those interested in continuing the journey to submit an ‘Expression of interest’. Tuesday 17 October 2023 10:00-14:00  Networking, Connection and Development Workshop (online). After Tuesday 12 September 2023 - we will also have a limited number of accessibility funds available .Monday 27 November 2023 Application submission deadline. -Monday 11 December 2023  Notification of decisions. - Funded project work to be completed by July 2024
Measuring Success in Co-production: Learning by Doing' - key dates

How to express an interest in getting involved

The diagram above outlines the key dates for anyone interested in applying for funding. Please also have a read of our 'How to get involved' document for more details about each of these stages and key dates.

Sign up to our Programme and Funding Launch session on 12 September at 13.00 UK time.

Overall final submission is by Monday 27 November, 2023.

The benefits of being part of this journey…

Although participation in the process does not guarantee funding allocation, we hope to add value along the way regardless of outcome. Outlined below are few thoughts on what we hope you’ll get out of joining us on this path from the start through to submission of an application for funding (should you wish to do so):

  • Foundations based on relationships: connecting and building new strong relationships.
  • Learning by doing: creating the right conditions and learning how to put the principles of co-production into practice from the start.
  • Realising the difference: developing ideas and understanding the potential mutual benefits that working together with a group of people on the application may have.
  • Exchanging knowledge and experience: recognising the value that broader skills and perspectives can offer to creating an impactful project.

Further commitment and benefits for funded projects include:

  • Training and coaching on co-production and evaluation during the project work.
  • Sharing learning across all funded projects.
  • Being part of something bigger - contributing your learning to build an evaluation tool or approach (perhaps a framework) for co-production that others can use.

Some thoughts from the project team

We are fortunate to have five co-producers with a range of expertise sharing our decision-making. Some are already reflecting on their motivations, experiences, potential benefits and aspirations of being involved in co-producing this programme so far…

“I am passionate about developing policy solutions alongside the people most affected by them and as a co-producer, I am delighted to be working alongside such a talented and stimulating collective of people that embraces diverse understanding and talent to further propagate this ethos.  
‘The Measuring Success in Co-Production: Learning by Doing’   programme offers space for deeper rumination about how we can bring about change that benefits the wider society rather than the few.”

Tony McKenzie

“As someone interested in understanding the intricacies of co-production, I recently joined the Collective to learn more. As a result, this has led to being an active co-producer in this research project. So far, it has been an enriching experience. It has helped me gain a better understanding of the challenges that come with co-producing research. It has also allowed me to make meaningful contributions in its early development stages.
I look forward to continuing to collaborate with other members and playing an equal part in the evolution of this co-produced research.”

Rob Ferguson

“Impactful co-production rarely happens in straight lines, but usually in messy, squiggly ones – that is where the learning occurs. There is no ‘right’ way to do co-production and the cliché of ‘the journey is more important than the destination’ could not be truer here.
I am excited that in this project we will be evaluating the processes and experiences of co-production itself as well as the outcomes of pilot projects. We will also be self-reflecting on how well we co-produced this project and what we learnt. Collectively, I hope we will be able to add rich experiential insights, both positive and negative, to the existing body of knowledge, and create further opportunities for learning.”

Co-producer team member

Modelling what good partnership across contexts looks like…

Our team brings together a range of partners to support us all on this journey and aspires to model a collaborative way of working. Bringing individuals with lived/living experiences of health conditions as co-producers and community organisations together with researchers is a critical and often challenging component of co-production across contexts.

However, connecting people and communities to create action is familiar territory for Compost London and UCL Evaluation Exchange. With a range of expertise and agile approach they will offer flexibility in realising the mutual gains for this programme across these different contexts. Anne Crisp and Caroline Rouse (Compost London) and Ruth Unstead-Joss and Gemma Moore (UCL Evaluation Exchange) tell us a little more about what they do and their roles in supporting the project.

“Compost London CIC supports voluntary, community and faith organisations and helped to set up and deliver the Evaluation Exchange in partnership with UCL. The Evaluation Exchange team is passionate about evaluation. We help people evaluate, learn and reflect on their work in a way that is appropriate for them and the people they work with.  
Together, we provide training and support that encourages all participants to learn from each other and find evaluation solutions relevant to the context in which they are working.
It's been a really exciting initiative and we look forward to using our experience to support and learn from this project.”

Finally, UCL Grand Challenges, this is UCL's flagship cross-disciplinary initiative that supports people from different academic discipline areas to work together. The programme is based on the premise that solutions to the greatest challenges rarely come from one source alone. Therefore, a large part of our work involves bringing people from diverse expertise together to test new ideas, build partnerships, and collaborate.  

Siobhan Morris from the UCL Grand Challenges team shares her thoughts:

I am delighted to be a part of this innovative and exciting partnership initiative and look forward to seeing the impacts and connections generated through the project. The learnings and reflective practices will also help shape Grand Challenges work in the years ahead.

How else can we help?

We will be in touch with more information on this soon as outlined in this blog.

If there is anything we can do to make this more accessible for you, please email us on:

If you have any immediate questions or would like more information on anything in this blog that may help you participate in this programme, please contact Vanessa on However, full application details will be made available as outlined in the timeline above.

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