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Whitehall partnerships see 'significant' increase

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Brunel University London has seen a “significant increase in activity” with the UK Government in the past year, the first report on its partnership with the Cabinet Office’s Open Innovation Team (OIT) shows.

Between January 2019 and March 2020, Brunel carried out 23 projects alongside eight Whitehall departments, applying its research expertise in policy areas such post-Brexit consumer protections and Defence spending.

The Open Innovation Team was initially set up in 2016 to help government officials work more closely with academics to develop ideas in key policy areas, with Brunel joining as a partner in January 2019. OIT is currently sponsored by four universities – Brunel, Essex, Lancaster and York – but works with academics from all institutions.

“The OIT partnership is great opportunity,” said Prof Justin Fisher, Brunel’s Head of Social & Political Sciences, who contributed to a number of projects, including how the Government can measure trust in the justice system.

“We’ve already seen a significant increase in activity between Whitehall and Brunel academics from all three Colleges, together with great practical input into our impact case studies. Both our academic and professional staff have benefited from the interactions, which will help us build a strong, institutional memory and support for future policy-related work.”

Open Innovation Partnership highlights

For the Ministry of Justice: Co-wrote research on methodological considerations for measuring trust in the justice system

For the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport:  Contributed think piece on risks and opportunities in consumer protections after Brexit

For the National Security Secretariat: Contributed to a Rapid Review for the Strategic Defence Spending Review

Brunel’s students have also been able to take advantage of the partnership, with public policy students having the opportunity to attend a special school arranged at the Treasury, and two doctoral researchers being awarded intern placements within the OIT team.

“The PhD internship scheme is one that is open to all students, and the first – who is from life sciences – will begin her internship in August,” said Prof Fisher.

In total, 225 academics from 97 universities contributed to the work of the OIT, with Brunel collaborating particularly intensely with nine other universities.

For further information on Politics and International Relations at Brunel, please visit: brunel.ac.uk/politics-and-international-relations

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