Senior Policy Adviser to the Prime Minister, Number 10 Policy Unit
Over the past five years or so, I've been fortunate to be able to work with academics from across the world to develop new government policies, and try to ensure that we are plugged into the latest ideas and research.
The Cambridge Policy Fellowships Programme has been a fantastic opportunity to deepen this engagement with academia, and to spend time with some of the world's leading thinkers. It's been hugely rewarding and productive to be able to discuss emerging research with Cambridge faculty members, and the Centre for Science and Policy has done a brilliant job of connecting me to academics across the University with expert insights on current policy challenges.
So far I've had three separate spells in Cambridge as part of the Policy Fellowship, during which time I've had discussions with academics across a wide number of research fields, such as enterprise policy, cyber security, regional growth policy, life sciences, manufacturing, biodiversity and education.
These discussions have had a direct impact on my policy work – both on projects already underway, as well as on upcoming areas of work. For example, insights from the team at the Cambridge University Computer Laboratory were fed directly into our work on the multi-billion pound smart meter rollout programme, while conversations with biotech researchers directly influenced the life sciences strategy that I was developing for the Prime Minister last year.
To state the obvious, effective policy does not emerge out of a vacuum – it is the result of a process of engagement with thinkers and ideas from a variety of sources. By acting as a bridge between policymaking and academia, the Cambridge Policy Fellowships Programme is a catalyst for better policymaking and a more effective public sector. Long may it continue!