Essex PhD student helps Government policymaking in Open Innovation Team

  • Date

    Tue 23 Nov 21

Danny Shipsides

Our students have been working with the Open Innovation Team (OIT), a Government unit which helps develop Government policies. Second year Multimedia Journalism student Lily Morris interviewed one of those students to find out more.

Essex philosophy student Danny Shipsides, from the School of Philosophy and Art History, got to experience first hand what it was like to be involved in projects for Government departments while working in the Open Innovation Team (OIT).

The OIT is a cross Government unit that works with academics to generate analysis and ideas for policy and Danny's work involved interviewing academics and examining their research, which led to reports which advised Government ministers on policy decisions in the Department for Education and the Home Office.

“Working at the OIT provided me with an insight into what it is like to work in the civil service as a policy-worker,” said Danny. “It helped me develop the skills and experience that are required for success.”

Despite working remotely due to COVID-19 restrictions, Danny still gained valuable experience working with a Government team.

“You’re tasked with doing the same work that established Higher Executive Officers carry out on a day-to-day basis. This is challenging but very rewarding work, and you really feel like you have an impact on the work produced by the team,” he added.

The jump from studying to working in the fast-paced world of policy work proved a challenge at first. “As a PhD student, I’m used to spending months thinking about an issue, but in policy work you sometimes have to summarise detailed research from a completely unfamiliar field in a matter of days. The change of pace was certainly a challenge,” explained Danny. But working with the Open Innovation Team “was a fantastic experience. I would strongly encourage anyone who is thinking about applying to take the leap and do it!”

Professor Sanja Bahun, Dean of Postgraduate Research and Education, said: “We are immensely proud of all our postgraduate researchers who pursue research and have a palpable impact in our local and global communities.

“Through our Proficio scheme and other provision at Essex we focus closely on enhancing career opportunities for our postgraduate researchers and having their voices heard; our collaboration with Open Innovation Team makes it happen. Our postgraduate researchers can contribute so much to policy-making.”