Key appointment for research partnership

The ground-breaking Insights North East project has been further boosted by the appointment of Liz Shutt as Programme Director.

Key appointment for research partnership

Liz has been Director of Policy for the University of Lincoln and the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership for the past six years, where she has been working to connect the University with local and national policy development. In that time, she has played a leading role on various projects to help shape and develop regional and university strategy including 21st Century Lab, which focussed on the purpose of university in relation to the challenges of the 21st Century, the Local Industrial Strategy, the Innovation Strategy for the Humber Freeport and the University’s Regional Inequality Commission.

Liz will bring her experience and leadership to the Insights North East (INE) project, which builds on an existing partnership between Newcastle University, Northumbria University, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Newcastle City Council and North of Tyne Combined Authority.

“I look forward to playing my part building INE to support greater connection between the insights of academic research and the practice of local policymakers.”

Liz Shutt, INE Programme Director

Led by Newcastle University, the project aims to build a shared understanding of the knowledge and data within each partner organisation and develop new ways of connecting and interrogating that knowledge base so that regional policymakers can better address the needs of local communities.

It is structured around three policy challenges that align with the expertise in the two universities and the priorities of policymakers in the region – improving health and wellbeing, a just transition to net zero, and delivering inclusive growth.

By bringing this knowledge together, INE aims to create better links between academics and policymakers to close the gap between publicly funded research and policy design and implementation and ensure that policies addressing these three key challenges meet the needs of communities in the region.

As Programme Director, Liz will have a pivotal role in developing and establishing the INE structure whilst supporting, facilitating and managing relationships between the INE partners to deliver the project’s vision and plan, ensure INE’s success and secure its long-term future beyond the initial three-year funding.

Liz said: “The establishment of Insights North East comes at a critical time for regional collaboration to deliver for communities and citizens in the region. The cost of living crisis will impact deeply and exacerbate existing divides, while the pandemic has further highlighted the interconnection between health and opportunity. Net zero is at a precarious point as public policy struggles to adapt in order to prevent further irreversible damage.

“I look forward to playing my part building INE to support greater connection between the insights of academic research and the practice of local policymakers as we seek to address these challenges.”

Liz was previously Head of Policy at University Alliance, helping to grow the organisation from the start and working on a range of projects and publications including on social mobility, funding, the regional economy and the future of work.

She has also worked at Universities UK, Sheffield Hallam University and the Department for Work and Pensions and was on the steering group for the UPP Civic University Commission, chaired by Lord Kerslake.

Professor Jane Robinson, Pro-Vice Chancellor Engagement and Place, Newcastle University and Chair of the Insights North East board, said: “I am absolutely delighted that Liz will be joining the Insights North East team. Liz has a huge amount of experience bringing researchers and policymakers together to share ideas and expertise and has built enduring partnerships. I know she will have a significant, positive impact on the project and ensure that the partnership delivers benefits for the social and economic wellbeing of the region.”

INE sits within the wider Collaborative Newcastle agreement, an innovative new partnership between the NHS, local government, higher education, and voluntary and community sector in Newcastle to combine efforts, expertise and resources in new and creative ways with the aim of reducing inequality and providing better opportunities for all.

Henry Kippin, Chief Executive, North of Tyne Combined Authority, said: “Insights North East will be a real asset for the region – building evidence and insight that can help us navigate the challenges and opportunities ahead. It is great to see Liz joining the team to drive this work forward and help build the strong collaboration that will underpin it.”