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SPARK joins £2m International Public Policy Observatory

3 December 2020

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Cardiff University’s Social Science Research Park (SPARK) is joining a £2m International Public Policy Observatory (IPPO) to tackle the social, economic and public health impacts of COVID-19.

The project, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), brings research and policy together to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic and accelerate the UK’s recovery.

Led by University College London (UCL), the £2 million project, following is a collaboration between UCL, Cardiff University, Queen’s University Belfast, the University of Auckland and the University of Oxford, together with think tanks including the International Network for Government Science and academic news publisher The Conversation.

SPARK Academic Director, Professor Chris Taylor, said: “We are delighted to be a major part of an Observatory which will give UK policymakers access to resources, evidence and analysis of global policy responses to COVID-19, so that they can make better decisions when dealing with the impacts of the pandemic. The IPPO will focus on a range of public policy areas where SPARK has world-leading research expertise, such as education, children and adult social care, adolescent mental health, knowledge mobilisation and brokering policy makers’ evidence needs.”

To address the most urgent policy needs, the IPPO will crowdsource key questions and topics from policymakers and the public. It will create ‘living maps’ of evidence and policy to cut through the vast amounts of social research and policy responses on COVID-19 and provide a searchable database of research.

Professor Joanna Chataway of UCL, the IPPO’s principal investigator, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for policymakers. The range and urgency of evidence they need is continuously growing, and if it is not easily accessible this creates yet another hurdle in developing the measures we need to help society through the impacts of COVID-19.”

Cardiff’s contribution to the IPPO will build on the ground-breaking approach to engagement with Ministers and public service leaders that has been developed here in Wales by the Wales Centre for Public Policy. Its Director, Professor Steve Martin, said: “We are looking forward to working with our partners in the IPPO to help ensure that this important new initiative meets the evidence needs of policy makers in every part of the UK.”

The IPPO will build lasting connections between policy and research experts from across the world and provide flexible and targeted insights on how best to address the UK’s response and recovery from the pandemic.

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