UK project leads

IPPO’s policy engagement throughout the UK

IPPO’s project lead

The International Public Policy Observatory (IPPO) is being led by UCL’s Department of Science, Technology Engineering and Public Policy. STEaPP was founded in the recognition that science, technology and engineering expertise are vital to tackling today’s most pressing global challenges. It collaborates closely with external decision-makers to ensure it is asking relevant questions and addressing real needs through its education and research programmes.

IPPO is a £2 million, two-year collaboration funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to build bridges between policy and research as it seeks to mitigate the biggest social impacts of COVID-19 and accelerate the UK’s recovery from the pandemic. Professor Joanna Chataway, STEaPP’s Head of Department, is IPPO’s Principal Investigator, working with project leads Sir Geoff Mulgan (engagement) and Professor David Gough, Director of UCL’s EPPI-Centre (evidence).

IPPO’s UK/England outreach

IPPO’s exploration of the policy needs at both UK government and local level in England is overseen by STEaPP’s Policy Impact Unit (PIU). The PIU promotes co-development of research between academics and policymakers, and will provide insights into key policy issues by triaging questions from national and regional decision-makers, as well as supporting and developing new relationships among all of IPPO’s stakeholders – including through a series of roundtable discussions.

The primary purpose of IPPO’s engagement activities is to find out which COVID-related problems and issues decision-makers (UK, devolved, local, regulatory, etc) require evidence-based help with in both the short and longer terms. The key is to get to reasonably granular and specific questions: this will be done through continuous conversations with decision-makers at every level – by the PIU for UK-level and England, and by IPPO’s partners in Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast for the devolved administrations (see below).

In all cases, IPPO is seeking lead entry points into the main parts of government to help access the right people and provide an overview of their policy priorities and needs.

IPPO in Scotland

The Scottish Policy and Research Exchange (SPRE) supports researchers and officials as they seek smart solutions to policy challenges. It is a network of professionals working together to deliver evidence-informed policy in practice, while enabling policy professionals in government, parliament, local authorities and elsewhere to find the right experts and right research to inform and shape decisions. SPRE provides training for researchers and policy professionals, develops collaborative tools in digital space, and oversees The Brokerage, a network of academic and administrative staff at Scottish higher education institutions (HEIs) who have an interest in policy engagement.

IPPO’s project lead for Scotland is Nick Bibby, a policy engagement professional who helped establish SPRE and was appointed as its first director at the beginning of 2019. He will be working with colleagues from all of Scotland’s HEIs and policy institutions to help Scotland learn from international experience.

IPPO in Wales

The Cardiff University Social Science Research Park (SPARK) is the first social science research park in the world, creating a unique environment for conducting challenge-led interdisciplinary research. Part of the University’s £300million Innovation Campus, this purpose-built facility co-locates world-leading social science researchers with organisations and representatives from the public, third and private sectors. SPARK includes research centres and institutes that work on a wide range of social and economic issues, such as: health behaviours; environmental sustainability; education; civil society; adult and children’s social care; skills, employment and labour markets; place-based and public service innovation; climate change behaviours; crime, security and disinformation; and children’s mental health and wellbeing.

Chris Taylor is the academic director for SPARK and a Professor in the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University. As the IPPO’s lead for Wales, he will work closely with the Wales Centre for Public Policy to coordinate the policy and evidence needs of policymakers in Wales relating to COVID and the country’s recovery from this pandemic. The IPPO will also be drawing extensively on the research expertise and collaborative partnerships within SPARK.

IPPO in Northern Ireland

Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), working with the public policy think tank Pivotal, will lead work to connect policymakers in Northern Ireland with the IPPO’s analysis and resources, including gathering information about Northern Ireland’s evidence needs. We will engage with public servants and other stakeholders to advance the work of the IPPO and make sure the benefits are maximised across Northern Ireland.

The project lead, Dr Muiris MacCarthaigh, is Senior Lecturer in Politics and Public Administration at QUB,. He will work with local stakeholders to ensure the distinctive policy challenges they face from the effects of COVID-19 in Northern Ireland are reflected in the work of IPPO, and that the Observatory’s outputs are disseminated as effectively as possible across government and the 11 local authorities.