Director - Public Services Lab, Nesta
The CSaP Policy Fellowship has given me an extremely useful set of intellectual prompts and challenges to my work on ageing and innovation, as well as a valuable set of academic contacts and on-going interaction with the University and its network of policy makers.
The Policy Fellowship week itself was exhilarating in its diversity of perspectives and in the pace and intensity of the programme. Each day involved a whole range of conversations in a whole variety of places – from the ultra-modern Cambridge Computer Lab to the winding stairwells of Magdalene College. The discussions covered topics as wide-ranging as network analysis, demography, workplace culture and neurological development. It was a great pleasure to engage with leading thinkers from a whole range of disciplines and to have the privilege of one-on-one debate.
In terms of impact, the Cambridge conversations have made a substantial contribution to the report on ageing and innovation which I published a few months after the Fellowship: Five hours a day: systemic innovation for an ageing population. The report explored the ways in which the demographic shift is affecting how we live and work, and argued that innovation in our social institutions has lagged behind demographic change; leaving us with systems, like social care, at breaking point. I was able to time the Policy Fellowship to coincide with the initial phase of the research, which enabled me to test early arguments with academics, strengthen the material and bring in new ideas and examples.
The value of the Fellowship is also much greater than just the initial week in Cambridge. CSaP runs a high-quality programme of seminars, conferences and events in London and Cambridge. I have heard Baroness Neuberger lecture on ageing in Cambridge and also took part in CSaP’s well-networked annual conference in a session focused on ageing.
CSaP has developed a valuable network of leading academics and policy makers who are committed to improving how government and academia interact. What brings them together is intellectual curiosity, interest in how the ‘other side’ works and a determination to make knowledge useful. I’ve found the CSaP Policy Fellowship very helpful in terms of strengthening the connections between my work and the wider research base and getting to know academics and policy makers with similar interests – there are plenty of avenues to explore in terms of on-going collaboration and I’m looking forward to developing these further.