ESRC Funding Announcement 2023-2024: IPPO to Mobilise Knowledge on Net Zero, Levelling up & Cities, COVID-19 Recovery, and Inequality

Ayden Wilson

The International Public Policy Observatory (IPPO) is delighted to announce that its £2.2 million application for a further two years of funding has been successful.

After being invited to submit a bid to extend its work by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), IPPO will start its second phase on January 1st, 2023.

IPPO was established in December 2020 to provide policymakers with insights from social science research that could inform and enhance decision making during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since its inception, the organisation has engaged with research teams nationally and internationally to mobilise knowledge and harness its potential policy impact.

IPPO’s work has extended from assessing the impact of the closure of schools on pupils, parents and carers, to understanding how we can better manage the growing global mental health crisis exacerbated by the pandemic and build on our understanding of the role and mobilisation of volunteers during emergencies.

The first phase of IPPO’s work will conclude on December 31, 2022, and recommence on January 1, 2023 for a period of two years.

As in Phase 1, IPPO will continue to mobilise and assess evidence from institutions across England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland on the best ways to mitigate the social harms associated with COVID-19, with a renewed focus on what research could inform policies to support recovery from such a seismic shock. The team will also broaden its reach to engage with the wider challenges that face UK policymakers at this time.

IPPO intends to provide useful tools and evidence products for policymakers to enable them to access the most pertinent research solutions in relation to four key challenges: the Net Zero target, Levelling Up & Cities plans, Inequality and COVID-19 recovery.

In the long-term, we aim to continue to bridge the gap between social sciences research and policymaking by bringing accessible and relevant research into the hands of those who are putting these ideas into practice.

IPPO’s achievements in Phase 1 include.

  • Facilitating regular high-level roundtable discussions concerning the pandemic between policymakers, think tanks, academic bodies, and other third sector organisations.
  • Facilitating knowledge exchange with government officials from across the United Kingdom to discuss policy concerning the pandemic.
  • Establishing a partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies to launch our IPPO Cities project that focuses on the effects of the pandemic on urban centres around the world.
  • Launching a collaboration between the universities of Bristol, Edinburgh and Manchester and the UK Health Security Agency to fill social science research gaps related to the current monkeypox outbreak. 
  • Organising and delivering reviews of evidence on education (funded by the Department for Education), NHS Staff Wellbeing, Volunteering during the Pandemic, Basic Income Experiments, and Scaling Up Effective Mental Health Interventions, and others.

These and all other published reviews can be accessed on the website of our research partner, the EPPI-Centre.

In the second phase of IPPO’s work, Principal Investigator Professor Joanna Chataway will lead the team’s work on the themes of COVID-19 Recovery and Inequality. Co-investigator Professor Sir Geoff Mulgan will lead IPPO’s work on Net Zero, and Levelling Up & Cities.

Both directors will work closely with two Policy Evidence Leads within the IPPO team. Together they will be responsible for establishing the demand for our work within the policy community and delivering the evidence products that best meet its needs. Rapid Evidence Reviews will be conducted by the EPPI-Centre team, led by Dr Mukdarut Bangpan. The thematic directors will also work closely with our partners and stakeholders across Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Jeremy Williams, who currently leads our work on IPPO Cities and Monkeypox, will work on IPPO in its second phase as the Policy Evidence Lead for Net Zero, and Levelling Up & Cities.

“I am thrilled that IPPO is able to consolidate its knowledge synthesis work to inform public policy across a range of areas.” says Jo Chataway.

“We look forward to working with a wide range of policy and research organisations to improve the use of evidence and knowledge in policy development and implementation.”

In its second phase, IPPO will also enhance the role of its partners in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to ensure closer relationships with policymakers in each of the UK’s four nations. In addition, IPPO will continue its communications partnership with the academic news publisher The Conversation to enhance its visibility with the wider research community and support all engagement activities.

We are also pleased to announce a new partner in Wales, the Wales Centre for Public Policy (WCPP), funded by the ESRC and the Welsh Government, based at Cardiff University.

Steve Martin, advisory board member and Director of the WCPP said of the collaboration:

“I’m delighted that the Wales Centre for Public Policy is able to contribute to the IPPO and look forward to helping ensure that governments across the UK can access and apply the robust and relevant evidence they need to tackle key societal challenges.”

The International Network of Government Science Advisors (INGSA) will remain IPPO’s international partner and use their global network of science advisors to bring policy practitioner experience to inform and complement other forms of evidence.

In addition, there will be a stream of work on science advice and how this is evolving post-pandemic. This will be achieved via three international roundtable discussions to consider how evidence and science advice informs policy in different national contexts.

These roundtables will develop insights on how science diplomacy and other mechanisms might be developed to improve policy learning and transfer.

IPPO is also delighted to be welcoming Sarah Chaytor, Director of Strategy and Policy at UCL, into our team as Strategic Engagement Director. As lead and Co-Investigator for Capabilities in Academic-Policy Engagement (CAPE) and co-founder and Co-Chair-elect of UPEN, Sarah Chaytor is ideally placed to direct IPPO’s strategic engagement, with a focus on the intersections between IPPO’s thematic areas and how they link into other ESRC/UKRI investments and the broader evidence eco-system.

“I am thrilled to be joining IPPO in its second phase to build on the impressive achievements of the last two years,” says Sarah Chaytor.

“I look forward to working with IPPO’s stakeholders to enhance the use of evidence in public policy through knowledge mobilisation and exchange, to identify opportunities for further synergies and added value, and consider the future shape and sustainability of the research-policy ecosystem.”

In the new year, IPPO will be working closely with its UK partners, and has planned a series of public events to be held at Queen’s University Belfast, the University of Glasgow and Cardiff University.

These events will be an opportunity to engage with public policymakers, and introduce the work of IPPO to a wider audience.

If you would like to hear more about IPPO’s plans and opportunities to work with us, please email operations manager [email protected]

For any communications/media enquiries please contact s.o’[email protected]