Alex Waddington, Engagement Manager at the University of Manchester, has encouraged researchers to create maximum impact on public policy through initiatives such as policy@manchester and direct engagement with Select Committees.

Impacts

  • Alex Waddington has been a driving force behind policy@manchester, a University of Manchester initiative aimed at increasing the public policy impact of the university's research. His work has driven an increase in network engagement of over 800 per cent in three years.
  • He has overseen substantial growth of Manchester Policy Blogs, where researchers can communicate their findings and influence policymakers. Page views for the blog site rose by 80 per cent in 2015 to 110,000, several posts were picked up by national media and one was cited in an influential House of Commons Library research briefing.
  • The 'Blogging for policy influence' training sessions developed by Waddington have been delivered to several hundred researchers, and the blogging approach has been adopted across the institution.
  • He launched an ethnicity blog stream in partnership with the ESRC-funded Centre of Dynamics in Ethnicity. These blog posts have attracted national media interest and have been viewed 20,000 times.
  • He also worked with academics to pilot the use of new, experimental approaches to communicating policy-relevant knowledge and information, including infographics and unusual limited edition print publications that drive large online demand.
  • Waddington developed Manchester Policy Week, a week-long series of events where researchers can meet with policy influencers. He increased Policy Week's size, scope and profile – taking it from 14 events in 2013 to 32 in 2015, and from 40 speakers to 120 in 2015. He has introduced live tweeting, video and blog coverage, and audience polling to widen engagement with policy debates.
  • He has encouraged academics to influence policy directly though evidence submissions to Select Committees. In 2014 there were 12 written submissions and six oral contributions to committees, up from seven written and three oral in 2013. In 2014 he brought a Select Committee evidence session to the university for the first time in its history.
  • His initiative to compile open calls for evidence into one place was adopted by UK Parliament on its own website in 2015. He has also worked with parliamentary and political staff to demystify the process of policy engagement for researchers.

"I have found the support offered by Alex to be hugely inspiring, valuable and instrumental in multiplying the impact of my research into the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). A blog entry on Manchester Policy Blogs with a colleague on TTIP's economic impact culminated in invitations to, amongst others, the European Parliament and to give evidence to the Business, Innovation and Skills and Environmental Audit Select Committees of the House of Commons." (Dr Gabriel Siles-Brügge, Lecturer in Politics, University of Manchester)

Background

Alex Waddington is the Engagement Manager for policy@manchester at the University of Manchester – an initiative created to showcase the contribution of academics to public policy development in the UK. In his time in the role he has overseen the growth of Manchester Policy Blogs, developed Manchester Policy Week, and enabled academics to influence policy directly though evidence submissions to select committees.

One of his major achievements is bringing an official Commons Transport Select Committee evidence session to the university in 2014 – the first such event in the institution's history. He was recognised as Outstanding Professional Support Services for Social Responsibility by the University of Manchester in 2015.

"I am incredibly lucky to work at a university where outstanding, real-world relevant research can be found in every corner of campus. As someone with a strong creative streak, I'm fortunate to operate in a culture that encourages experimentation in communication techniques and gives people the latitude to try new ideas," says Alex Waddington.

"I support our researchers by offering them sound and reliable 'belts and braces' advice, based on my professional experience. But I also try to provide them with a menu of more creative solutions for maximising engagement and impact with policy audiences."