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UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose

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Placements: Policy tools in action

Applying new ideas in dynamic organisations that are tackling 21st century challenges.

MPA fieldwork

In the final term, students choose between writing a thesis and undertaking a group placement project with partner organisations. The placements enable students, who work in small groups under the supervision of IIPP faculty members, to apply the new ways of thinking that they acquired in the first two terms of MPA to real-world challenges. Through this process students stretch and test their classroom work, gaining new experiences and insights.

IIPP placement teams are highly valued for their understanding of emergent concepts like mission-oriented innovation, as well as their ability to harness design, systems-thinking, and other analytical tools. We match students and organisations based on both student interest and their skills. The projects that students undertake are varied, from conducting analysis of Covid-19 hotline data to supporting government strategy formation; however, all placement projects are grounded in research and a shared benefit amongst students, faculty, and partners.

Our Placement Partners

Placements are with a wide range of organisations within the UK and around the globe. During the Covid-19 pandemic these placements have taken place online, which has enabled us to work with partners as far away as New Zealand; as public health conditions improve, we anticipate offering placements that are both in-person and online. 

“We had the pleasure of virtually hosting two IIPP students in New Zealand this year.  Both Nina and Nikol were highly professional and engaging and they produced two excellent pieces of research including an assessment tool for mission-led policy.  We are using the insights to inform our thinking on taking mission-led innovation policy forward in New Zealand. We would highly recommend this programme."

Donna Purdue, Chief Economist, Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, New Zealand Government, Placement Host 2021

“It was great to work with IIPP students. They were professional and creative, and brought in their own experiences as well as their learning from IIPP. They really became part of the team and made a significant impact on the rough sleeping project and its direction”

Claudia Knowles, Hackney Borough Council Placement Host 2021

Of note, many placement organisations are members of our Mission-Oriented Innovation Network (MOIN). MOIN brings together over 90 public organisations around the world; these include state investment banks, innovation agencies, strategic design units in cities, and other public organisations with that are engaged in cutting-edge policy-making.

To date, IIPP has placed students in over a dozen organisations, including the Danish Design Centre, the Design Council, EIT Climate KIC, the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office,

Government Digital Service (UK), the Scottish Government, Hackney Council, Camden Council, the Royal Academy of Engineering, London Legacy Development Corporation, New Zealand Ministry for the Environment, and the KTN and Satellite Applications Catapult with support from the UK Space Agency.

Get involved

More information on the placements, the selection process, and the associated timeline is available through the detailed Placement Prospectus. All organisations are selected through a competitive process, and we are happy to work directly with organisations to develop and refine their applications.

If you represent an organisation that could benefit from the IIPP placement programme or if you have further questions about the programme and the application process, please contact our Senior Teaching and Learning Administrator, Isha Reid