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UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy

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The Policy Impact Unit facilitates and delivers high-quality policy engagement that increases UCL Engineering’s impact on policy.

The Policy Impact Unit was set up in 2018 to increase UCL Engineering’s impact on policy. We are a team of professional intermediaries who collaborate with research teams to translate research for policy audiences and to deliver effective engagement between the two communities. You can find out more about the PIU's work by reading our First Two Years report.

By providing dedicated policy engagement capacity we create the conditions and space for impact from UCL’s world-leading research.

Our vision

UCL Engineering is a ‘go to’ place for policymakers seeking engineering evidence and expertise to tackle societal challenges.

Our aim

The Policy Impact Unit (PIU) facilitates and delivers high-quality policy engagement that increases UCL Engineering’s impact on policy.

You can read more about our Theory of Change here.

Impacts

Find out more about how the PIU's work has influenced policy on our Impacts page. 

Read the latest updates from the PIU here.

Meet the PIU team

Dr Ine Steenmans

Headshot of Ine Steenmans

Dr Ine Steenmans is an Associate Professor in Futures, Analysis and Policy at the University College London (UCL). Ine’s research focuses on future policy competencies and capabilities. This means her research explores questions such as: What analytical competencies do policy professionals need, and how do they develop them? How do groups develop collective analytical capabilities? And how can the development of competencies and capabilities be better aligned?

She has a special interest in the competencies for integrating knowledge across disciplines, sectors, and time horizons. This includes futures and foresight methods, systems methodologies, and evaluation. All her work takes a needs-led, transformation-oriented approach, which involves working in partnership with policy professionals. Recent projects included capability development work on the uses of systems mapping, evaluation skills, scenarios, and strategy tools – in collaboration with BEIS, Lloyds Insurance, UNDP, Policy Lab, the UAE Office of Advanced Sciences and the UAE Space Agency. Before joining UCL in 2017, Ine worked as a foresight researcher in the UK Government Office for Science.

She obtained her MEng in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Cambridge University, followed by an MSc in International Planning at the Bartlett School at UCL, and an EPSRC-funded Engineering Doctorate (EngD) at the UCL Centre for Urban Sustainability and Resilience. Her doctoral research focused on the real-world use of qualitative Operational Research methods within strategic infrastructure planning practices.

Jen Reed

Jen Reed

Jen is Head of UCL’s Engineering’s Policy Impact Unit, where she manages a portfolio of wide-ranging science, technology and engineering policy areas. She is passionate about collaboration between researchers and policy stakeholders, translating detailed evidence in a way that is understandable and can maximise real world impact. Jen is developing and testing novel approaches to academic-policy engagement, as well as building policy understanding and capabilities across the Faculty and beyond.  

Jen has fifteen years’ experience in policy environments, including in UK Parliament, and the Civil Service – where she worked as Senior Manager for Strategy and Policy at the Department for Education. She has led successful policy engagement activity for UCL’s Gender and Tech Research Group (awarded a UKRI FLF Impact Prize 2024) and the Circular Economy Centre for Construction Materials (ICEC-MCM,) and is Chair of the Festival of Engineering’s Policy Engagement Advisory Group. She holds a BSC in Politics and International Relations from Brunel University.

Dr Luís Miguel Lacerda

Luis Miguel Lacerda

Luís Miguel Lacerda is currently working with researchers at the Future Targeted Healthcare Manufacturing Hub to facilitate the policy impact of their work, as well as leading PIU’s engagement on Health Inequalities, and Science Diplomacy. Luis has also previously supported researchers developing artificial intelligence tools to improve surgery.

Before joining PIU, Luís was a Research Associate in Paediatric Clinical Neuroimaging at the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health and Invited Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Medicine, Universidade Católica Portuguesa. As a complement to his academic activity, he has led the Portuguese Association of Researchers and Students in the United Kingdom (PARSUK) to create the first Scientific Advisory Board in a Portuguese Embassy worldwide. Finally, he shares an interest and experience in public engagement and new educational methodologies in science and medicine. 

Luís holds a PhD in Neuroimaging from King's College London and an MSc in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Lisbon.

Anca Tacu

Head shot of Anca Tacu

Anca Tacu is a Policy Adviser in UCL Engineering’s Policy Impact Unit. She is currently working closely with researchers at the Manufacturing Research Hub for a Sustainable Future (Vax-Hub Sustainable) and the Vaccines Manufacturing Hub for LMICs (Vax-Hub) Global to facilitate and enhance the policy impact of their work.

Anca has previously held roles in UCL in the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP) and School of Pharmacy, which included managing and developing the growing collaboration with New Giza University to support undergraduate education in Egypt. Anca’s background includes a particular emphasis on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She was the founding network manager of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network UK, growing this into a thriving collaborative space for UK HEIs to contribute actionable research to policy making. Anca’s work at IIPP was within an innovation research/policy interaction space and included the Biscay Fiscal Policy and the SDGs project, the SDG data gaps project in collaboration with the Office for National Statistics (ONS), and work towards the post-2030 Agenda.

Anca is passionate about bringing world leading research to bear in an actionable format that can directly contribute to solve the many societal challenges that are articulated by the SDGs and associated agenda. She is particularly interested in the potential for affordable vaccines being used to underpin global public health, which will in turn produce tangible benefits for global society at large.

Anca holds an MSc in Management with Business Strategy and the Environment from Birkbeck College, University of London. She speaks several languages, including her native Romanian, French and Spanish and is also a trustee of Sustainable Merton, a London-based environmental charity

Aleyna Prokudina

Head shot of Aleyna Prokudina

Aleyna joined UCL’s Engineering Policy Impact Unit in April 2024 and leads on policy engagement activities across a portfolio of projects focused on Net Zero and the Circular Economy. Her current focus is working with researchers at the Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Centre for Construction Materials (ICEC-MCM) to facilitate and increase the policy impact of their work.

Before joining the PIU, Aleyna worked at Central London Forward where she led the organisation’s policy activity on skills and net zero and supported local authorities to move to a green transition. Prior to this, Aleyna worked for a public policy consultancy undertaking research across a variety of subject areas and supporting public and private sector clients to deliver on their strategies and visions.

Aleyna is passionate about the role of academia in tackling global challenges and about using evidence and insight to improve decision-making. She holds a BA degree in Sociology and MA in Social and Political Theory from the University of Leeds.

Evaluation

We commissioned M2 consultants to conduct an independent evaluation of the PIU’s work, to understand what is working and what is not working about the PIU approach to delivering policy impact and where we could improve. The evaluation concluded that the PIU is enabling UCL Engineering research to reach wider audiences and to influence policy. Read the executive summary here.