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In designing this event, we saw it as a two-way exchange – bringing Arts and Humanities research to the attention of policy officials and bringing the needs of policy officials to the attention of academics.Introducing the event, Jill Rutter of the Institute for Government pointed to the opaqueness of government to many people from the outside.The Microsoft Accelerator model is “equity free” – we don’t take financial stakes in the companies that participate.Instead, the value that we deliver is in exclusive access to Microsoft’s customer base, and ultimately, opening doors to mutually beneficial start-corporate partnerships.In the policy context, economic and social research is well established.

Keri Facer and I invited researchers whose work would offer different perspectives on this question, drawing in particular on the Connected Communities programme funded by the AHRC.Dr Andrew Miles from University of Manchester shared the Everyday Participation project that is producing rich insights into how people take part in every day activities and what assumptions and ways of thinking underpin this.Professor Gowan Dawson from the University of Leicester shared insights from Victorian efforts to involve people in scientific research – an early forerunner for today’s citizen science.One researcher commented, “I think I’d misunderstood what policy requires from research and thought of it wrongly only in terms of research providing ‘what’ (evidence; identification of the problem) so policy makers could decide on ‘how’ to address it – but what was great was being able, actually, to have the ‘how’ conversations which, of course, is something a lot of policy makers are interested in…lots of leads to follow up on.” In terms of the design of the event, we learned that we needed to make sure both sides had equal time to share their perspectives and work contexts.