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The CUSPE (Cambridge University Science and Policy Exchange) Challenges is a policy research programme that runs yearly for 6 months and  brings together the best researchers in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire County Council senior management team and elected councillors.

During the programme, researchers will investigate critical research questions that senior officers and members of Cambridgeshire County Council have raised, and will provide evidence-based recommendations on how to adapt policies in order to deliver the county's strategic goals as best as possible.

The Policy Challenges programme was launched by Cllr Ian Manning in 2016 to encourage collaboration between the Cambridgeshire county council and CUSPE. 

The Policy Challenges are now open to any researcher based in Cambridge for the duration of the project. 

The programme is a very good opportunity for researchers to experience policy-making at the local government level, and for the county council to benefit from world-class researchers investigating crucial problems.

Programme Structure

Each team is made of up to six Cambridge researchers and investigates a research question over six months. The team then presents policy recommendations at a County Council committee meeting. The programme runs between March, when teams are selected, and September, when reports and policy recommendations are presented.

Researchers can apply to participate in the programme until mid-March, by completing an online application form. The applications for the year 2019 are now closed, and will open in February 2020 for the 2020 programme.

For any further practical information regarding the programme, please visit our dedicated page:

Practical Programme Information

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

Past Projects

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's aim is to build stronger links between our members and government policy makers, with programmes like the policy challenges. 

To find out more about CUSPE, please visit their website:


Cllr Ian Manning, elected Cambridgeshire County Councillor - Member champion and Founder of the programme

Orla Woodward & Dr Cecilia Castro  - Programme Coordinators from CUSPE for the year 2020. 

Dustin McWherter, Senior Adviser - Will lead the research side of the programme for the year 2019. If you have any questions regarding it, please email: Dustin.McWherter@cambridgeshire.gov.uk

Ferrari Hernandez, Adviser - Will lead the communications side of the programme for the year 2020. 

Owen Garling, Manager - Will support teams throughout the programme for the year 2020.

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