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Brunel academics to help government develop innovative policies


A successful project which helps to develop innovative new policies by linking up government officials with UK universities is to be extended for another three years – with Brunel University London one of four new partner universities.

The Open Innovation Team was set up in 2016 to help government departments work more closely with academics to develop analysis and ideas in key policy areas.

The initial trial saw government officials connect with more than 500 academics and deliver almost 30 projects, covering some of the government’s key policy priorities. This included white papers on mental health and online harms, as well as projects on economic growth and gender equality.

Thanks to a funding deal worth more than £1 million, the project will now be extended to 2022, with the latest round of funding coming from Brunel University London, the University of Essex, Lancaster University and the University of York.

The Cabinet Office’s Minister for Implementation, Oliver Dowden MP, said:

“Working with academics in this way has brought expertise and fresh thinking into how government officials are approaching some of the most challenging policy issues.

“I am delighted to see the project extended for another three years and look forward to what we can achieve through these new partnerships.”

The extension of the programmes will see academics work with government officials on a wide range of topics, including areas such as digital transformation, economic growth and preventative healthcare.

Sustained and productive connections

The move has been welcomed by academics from the partner universities.

Prof Rebecca Lingwood, Provost of Brunel University London, said:

“We are very excited to join the Open Innovation Partnership, and look forward to establishing sustained and productive connections between our academics and policy makers, and involving our students in real policy work.

“Matching up Brunel’s academic rigour with the policy and project needs of government will help us deliver true economic, social and cultural impact.”

To mark the extension of the project, an official signing ceremony was held at 10 Downing Street on 18 June, attended by Brunel’s Prof Lingwood and Prof Justin Fisher, Head of Department for Social & Political Sciences.

The Universities of Bath, Lancaster, Southampton and Warwick funded the pilot project, which ran from 2016 to 2018.

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