Skip to main content

CUSPE Policy Challenges

The Cambridge University Science and Policy Exchange (CUSPE) is an organisation run by and for early career researchers. In 2016 Cllr Ian Manning launched the Policy Challenges programme, to encourage collaboration on policy-related questions between Cambridgeshire County Council officers, elected councillors, and the best researchers in CUSPE.

During the programme, which runs yearly for six months, researchers investigate critical research questions that have been raised by senior officers and members of Cambridgeshire County Council, and provide evidence-based reports and recommendations on how to adapt policies to best deliver the Council’s strategic goals.

The programme is an excellent opportunity for researchers to experience policy-making at a local government level, and for Cambridgeshire County Council to benefit from world-class researchers investigating crucial problems.

The Policy Challenges programme is open to any CUSPE researcher based in Cambridge for the duration of the project.

Programme Structure:

Each research team consists of a number of CUSPE researchers who investigate a research question proposed by Council members and officers over six months. The team then presents policy recommendations at a County Council committee meeting.

The typical process is outlined as follows:

  1. Prospective research questions are submitted: Cambridgeshire County Council councillors and officers submit their prospective research questions and a shortlist is created.
  2. Launch event: research questions are showcased and pitched to researchers, who will then select the ones that interest them most in their applications.
  3. Applications: applications are reviewed and teams are formed. The questions with the highest level of interest are chosen for this year’s round.
  4. Monthly meetings: researchers meet with relevant officers, councillors and stakeholders to share ideas and to update them on their progress.
  5. Special events: where applicable special events are held, such as member seminars, in the lead up to committee.
  6. Report presented to committee: researchers present their reports with findings and recommendations to the relevant committees.
  7. Committee response: committees make their decisions based on findings and recommendations.
  8. Wrap-up event: an event to celebrate the end of this year’s round of research.
" "
Visual representation of the process

The programme usually runs between Spring and Autumn.

From 2023 the programme is paused until further notice.

For any further information regarding our past projects and their impact, please visit our dedicated page:

Additional Information

The Cambridge University Science and Policy Exchange (CUSPE) is an organisation run by and for early career researchers. It provides Cambridge researchers with an exposure to policy work.

Founded in 2012, CUSPE strives to support young scientists who wish either to influence policy from within the research environment, or to pursue directly a career with the governments of the UK or European Union. CUSPE attracts academics from a wide array of disciplines, all of whom have a desire to understand how their own research, or science more generally, fits within a broader policy context.

CUSPE aims to build stronger links between its members and government policy makers, with programmes like the Policy Challenges.

To find out more visit the CUSPE website.

If you have any questions regarding the programme please email: