Westminster Higher Education Forum

Evidence-based policymaking - strengthening the impact of academic and industry research on policy development

Morning, Tuesday, 8th October 2019

Emmanuel Centre, 9-23 Marsham Street, London SW1P 3DW


This seminar will bring together key stakeholders from business and the research community with policymakers from across Whitehall, the devolved administrations and local authorities, to examine the priorities for supporting evidence-based policymaking in the UK.

This comes following the announcement of extra funding for the Open Innovation Partnership, aimed at helping government officials work more closely with academics to develop innovative, evidence-based policies across a range of policy areas.

With the 2021 REF extending the weight of the ‘impact’ criteria, delegates will discuss both how to maximise opportunities to influence the policymaking process and how to demonstrate that impact for the purposes of the REF.

Delegates will discuss priorities and best practice for supporting evidence-based policymaking, including how systemic barriers to innovation - such as risk-averse cultures in some policymaking circles and entrenched policies - can be addressed. They will also discuss best practice in science communication, particularly at a time of concern that political and popular culture is increasingly influenced by emotional and ideological motivations, rather than scientific evidence.

Further sessions look at translating behavioural science into effective policy, thinking about how behavioural science research and intervention can be used to anticipate the impact of policies and potential problems relating to policy enforcement and implementation.

Delegates will also assess progress and the developing role of the What Works Network in building a more comprehensive evidence base and promoting the use of evidence in local, regional and national policymaking. This comes as the Network continues to expand, with the Centre for Transforming Access and Student Outcomes in Higher Education (TASO) set to launch later this year.

We also expect discussion on the potential of data in transforming policy processes and outcomes, looking at issues surrounding the expansion and reliability of citizen science, opportunities created by data sharing and the open data movement - as well as issues around data sharing and security.

Keynote Speakers

Dr Grant Hill-Cawthorne

Head, Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology

Chris Webber

Head, Open Innovation, Cabinet Office

Keynote Speakers

Jess Phoenix

Head of Floods and Water Research, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Dr Grant Hill-Cawthorne

Head, Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology

Chris Webber

Head, Open Innovation, Cabinet Office


Lord Taverne QC

Founder and former Chair, Sense about Science, 2002-2012


Claire Turner

Co-Director of Evidence, Centre for Ageing Better

Errin Riley

Research and Policy Coordinator, Sense about Science

Charlie Stratford

Water Sector Lead and NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellow, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology

Ed Humpherson

Director General for Regulation, UK Statistics Authority

Dr Zeynep Engin

Founder and Director, Data for Policy and Senior Research Associate, Urban Dynamics Laboratory, University College London

Tom Sasse

Senior Researcher, Institute for Government

Roz Bulleid

Head of Policy, Green Alliance

David Williams

Managing Director, Underwriting and Technical Services, AXA Insurance

Anna Bird

Principal Advisor, The Behavioural Insights Team