Improving the use of evidence and expertise in public policy

24 May 2016


When the Policy Fellowship Programme was first piloted six years ago, who could have imagined that it would develop into the thriving network it is today?

Since our inaugural Fellows took part in the pilot phase of the Programme in 2010, more than 225 Policy Fellows have participated in over 6000 face-to-face meetings with 1200 researchers and other experts – more than double the number we had three years ago.

Every year, around 36 new Policy Fellows join the Programme, which attracts senior policy professionals from government, industry and the third sector.

CSaP has pioneered a unique approach to improving the use of evidence in public policy. The Fellowship model is founded on recognising the importance of effective networks of researchers and policy professionals. Bringing research and policy face-to-face fosters lasting connections based on mutual trust, respect and understanding.

“An excellent initiative, bringing together senior policy makers and academics to help generate new policy responses to complex social and economic challenges”

Policy Fellowships provide the route through which decision makers in government and elsewhere can test and shape their thinking on issues that are of direct relevance to public policy – from bespoke programmes of one-to-one meetings to roundtable discussions with researchers and other experts in the sciences, engineering, technology, arts, humanities, and social sciences.

The UK Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, has described the Policy Fellowships programme as: “An excellent initiative, bringing together senior policy makers and academics to help generate new policy responses to complex social and economic challenges.”

What do Policy Fellows say?

Our Policy Fellows have described their experience as “gaining access to inspiring insights”, “a time for reflection away from the everyday demands of the office” and, “providing an opportunity to debate and share knowledge with top-level experts from academia”.

A survey of our Policy Fellows carried out in 2014 and 2015 showed that:

Dr Craig Davies of the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) said: “The Fellowship has enabled me to connect with people I would otherwise never have come across. It enabled me to reach out to a wider network of practitioners and highly experienced and knowledgeable academics, enabling us to explore new ideas and expand our business operations.”

Dr Mark Bale in the Department of Health commented: “The Fellowship has helped my own professional development, giving me the confidence to act as an expert in a personal capacity, rather than as a cog in a machine, and enabled me to build on the connections I have made to engage others.”

What next for our Policy Fellows?

Building on the success of the Fellowship, CSaP has introduced Continuing Fellowships which enable Policy Fellows to continue to engage with research at the University of Cambridge beyond the initial two years of their Fellowship.

Interested in the Fellowship?

New Policy Fellows are elected to the Fellowship three times per year: the deadlines for applications for each round are 15 June; 31 October; 31 January.

If you are interested in becoming a Policy Fellow, or if you think this might be of interest to your colleagues, please click here for more information, or email Clare Moran at

(Banner image coourtesy of Nigel Brown via Flickr)

Dr Mark Bale: Case study

Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC)

Craig Davies: Case study

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)

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    Innovation in agriculture – supporting and catalysing a translational cat’s cradle

    What are the big opportunities to deliver on the aims of the agri-tech strategy? This policy workshop seeks to explore this question in the context of the rapidly developing plans for the new Cambridge Centre for Crop Science (3CS), a collaboration between NIAB and the University of Cambridge that will enhance research in crop sciences, promote knowledge exchange and develop resilience in food security.