The University of Essex is joining a successful project which helps to develop innovative new policies by linking up government officials with universities across the UK.

The Open Innovation Team was set up in 2016 to help government departments work more closely with academics to develop analysis and ideas in key policy areas. The project has already helped develop policy in many priority areas including young people’s mental health.

The University of Essex is joining forces with Brunel University London, Lancaster University and the University of York to provide funding worth £1m to extend the work of the Open Innovation Team for another three years to 2022.

To mark the extension of the project, an official signing ceremony was held at 10 Downing Street on Tuesday 18 June.

The extension of the programmes will see academics work with government officials on a wide range of topics, including areas such as digital transformation, economic growth and preventative healthcare.

Professor Christine Raines, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) at the University of Essex, said: “As a leading, dual-intensive university with a strong link between transformative education and research, our research is making a difference to people’s lives and we look forward to this new partnership bringing our research into public policy through joint projects with the Cabinet Office and Whitehall departments.”

The Minister for Implementation, Oliver Dowden, said: “Working with academics in this way has brought expertise and fresh thinking into how government officials are approaching some of the most challenging policy issues.

“I am delighted to see the project extended for another three years and look forward to what we can achieve through these new partnerships.”

The initial trial saw government officials connect with more than 500 academics and deliver almost 30 projects, covering some of the government’s key policy priorities. This included white papers on mental health and online harms, as well as projects on economic growth and gender equality. The universities of Bath, Lancaster, Southampton and Warwick funded the pilot project, which ran from 2016 to 2018.

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