SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit

Major Initiatives

SPRU is home to several major research centres and collaborative projects, as listed below.

Externally funded research centres and major programmes

Steering Research and Innovation for Global Goals (STRINGS)

Major initiatives - PEC

The STRINGS project is mapping development pathways for science, technology and innovation that best address the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

A consortium of seven leading universities, research centers and the UNDP are working together to better understand the ways in which science, technologyand innovation contribute, or not, to meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Low and Middle Income Countries. The project will develop an integrative framework to map the complex relations between research in science, technology and innovation (STI) on the one hand, and the SDGs on the other.

Creative Industries Policy & Evidence Centre (PEC)

Major initiatives - PEC

The Policy and Evidence Centre was launched in November 2018 in parallel with the Government’s Creative Industries Clusters Programme. The Programme aims to bring together world-class research talent with UK companies and organisations to create jobs and drive the creation of innovative new companies, products and experiences that can be marketed around the world. The Centre, led by Nesta, seeks to address these issues and to develop good quality, independent evidence that will inform decision-making across the creative industries and underpin future policy decisions.

Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS) Digital Society

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The Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS) was established in 2018 with a vision to make the UK a leader in understanding the changes in energy demand needed for the transition to a secure and affordable, low carbon energy system. SPRU is leading the Digital Society theme under CREDS.

Deep Transitions

Major initiatives - Deep transitions

The programme, launched in 2017, examines the revolutionary concept of ‘Deep Transitions’ (DT) - the coordinated change of many socio-technical systems in the same direction, over a period of time, which result in large-scale social and economic impact, transforming the nature of world societies. The Deep Transition project is linked to the aims of the Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium as part of its research programme and is funded by Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust PLC and Baillie Gifford & Co Limited.

National Centre for Energy Systems Integration

Major initiatives - CESI

The EPSRC National Centre for Energy Systems Integration (CESI) is primarily funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Siemens. The Centre, launched in 2016, brings together energy experts from around the world to help unravel the energy network and understand future supply and demand, paving the way to a flexible smart infrastructure, empowering customers and giving them greater control of their energy use. It allows industry to meet the tough new low carbon targets.

Serendipity in Research and Innovation

Major initiatives - Serendipity

Launched in 2018, the 5-year interdisciplinary project ‘Serendipity in Research and Innovation’ (SIRI), focusses on the desirability and feasibility of targeting research and exploring the idea of ‘serendipity’ in research. It investigates whether science can be better managed in ways that enhance its social, political and economic value. The project is funded by the European Research Council.

Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium (TIPC)

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The Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium (TIPC), launched at the SPRU 50th Anniversary Conference in September 2016, aims to address global challenges, such as access to food and energy, rising inequality and climate change. The Consortium will examine and expand on current innovation frames and approaches to assist in solving urgent social and economic issues of our time. The project involves building new platforms for a mutual learning process between the Global North and South and between research and policy.

University research centres and programmes

Harvard Sussex Program (HSP)

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The Harvard Sussex Program is an inter-university collaboration for research, communication and training in support of informed public policy towards chemical and biological weapons. The Program links research groups at Harvard University in the United States and SPRU. It began formally in 1990, building on two decades of earlier collaboration between its co-directors.

STEPS Centre

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The STEPS Centre (Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability) is an interdisciplinary global research and policy engagement centre uniting development studies with science and technology studies. The Centre started in 2007. The work of STEPS covers: agriculture and food; energy and climate change; health and disease and water and sanitation. The STEPS Centre is co-hosted by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS).

The Sussex Energy Group (SEG)

Major initiatives - SEG

The Sussex Energy Group, which started in the 1970s, aims to understand and foster transitions towards sustainable, low carbon energy systems. Drawing from SPRU’s tradition, SEG undertake academically rigorous, interdisciplinary and world-leading research that is relevant to contemporary policy challenges. They also educate the next generation of energy policy professionals through our MSc and PhD programmes.

Sussex Sustainability Research Programme (SSRP)

Major initiatives - SSRP

The Sussex Sustainability Research Programme (SSRP) is a multi-disciplinary Programme, launched in 2015, which seeks to address complex socio-economic, technical and environmental challenges and develop problem-focussed research across disciplines in the natural and social sciences. It aims to enhance both the understanding of complex sustainability challenges and the approaches through which more sustainable development pathways can be negotiated.