The Centre for Science and Policy is building on the success of the Cambridge University Government Policy Programme (CUGPOP), which, between 1998 and 2006, promoted understanding of scientific and technological advances, and their implications for governmental planning and policy. Its founders – Sir Gabriel Horn (Chair), Lord Eatwell, Sir Bob Hepple and Lord Rees – organised sixteen one-day seminars on different topics, attended by both high-level policy professionals and leading scientists. The former, many of whom had little scientific background, were briefed by the latter; all participated in free discussion of the issues.
CUGPOP was extremely successful; and it also revealed a gulf in understanding between policy professionals and scientists. The programme was cited in a report by the Council for Science and Technology on How Academia and Government Can Work Together (2008) as a good example of communication and collaboration in practice. This report recommended further capacity-building activities to enhance the engagement between policy professionals and academics, and to bring about better-informed, evidence-based public policy. It is this need that the Centre for Science and Policy (CSaP) was designed to address.
When CSaP was formed in 2009, following donations from the David Harding Foundation and the Isaac Newton Trust, it embarked on an extensive programme of external and internal consultation meetings and market research. These guided the formation of the Centre as a networking organisation, promoting better relationships between researchers and policy professionals.