Case study 2023: David Knight

Head of the Supply Chains Hub, Department for Culture, Media and Sport

David Knight is the Head of the Supply Chains Hub in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). Here David describes how CSaP’s Policy Fellowship Programme has informed some of the policy areas that he has been leading on.

I lead a team in DCMS responsible for monitoring the impact of supply chains, inflation, workforce shortages, and the cost-of-living crisis upon DCMS sectors and mitigating against these threats where possible.

The CSaP Policy Fellowship programme has equipped me with the grounding, background and authority on some of the big issues I have been leading on. The Fellowship programme has also given me the weight and gravitas to steer policy, deploy evidence and advise ministers on my subject area from a credible position.

"What most surprised me about the Fellowship was that I went into some conversations wondering whether the academic might just be an interested bystander from a field entirely removed from my own, but every single conversation yielded something significant, interesting and worthwhile."

I really valued the time and space to step away from my work and think more broadly about what I do, and to talk to academics with fresh and varied insights. After each visit to Cambridge, I came away with a list of contacts to follow up with or connect to another member of my team. For example, I met Feryal Erhun – Professor of Operations & Technology Management in Cambridge Judge Business School – who distilled some of the key scientific findings on supply chains into a few simple steps. This provided me with a set of practical tools which could be used to sense check some of DCMS’ practices.

Another highlight was meeting five or six members of Cambridge City Council, which was incredibly useful in providing local context to major DCMS issues, such as gaining an understanding of what running events is really like on the ground.

Just before my final visit to Cambridge, I consulted policy teams in DCMS responsible for developing the UK’s semiconductor strategy who gave me several questions to pose to Cambridge academics. CSaP then connected me with Andrew Flewitt – Professor in Electronic Engineering at Cambridge – who, after we met, went on to be immensely helpful to the team at a key time when the Semiconductor Strategy was in a rather fluid form. The National Semiconductor Strategy was published in May 2023, and it mentions the role of the Institute for Manufacturing (IfM) at Cambridge in assisting with scoping work on the project.