Paul Cunningham gained an honours degree in biological sciences at the University of East Anglia followed by a PhD in marine ecology at UCNW Bangor. He joined PREST in 1985. Since then his work has covered a wide range of activities and his research interests have diversified greatly from his original interest in new marine technologies. Particular (albeit broad) areas of personal research interest now include: studies of the development and application of evaluation methodologies, and R&D evaluation; investigations of HEI-industry collaboration mechanisms and the role of HEIs in regional economies; studies of quantitative measures of R&D performance and the development of science and technology indicators; national and regional level studies of innovation and the identification of best practice in innovation policy and governance; studies of transnational scientific collaboration; and international science and technology policy development.
Much of this work has been undertaken either as a direct input to, or as a means to inform, policy making. In this context, Paul has undertaken numerous studies for a wide range of bodies including UK Government Departments (Department of Trade and Industry, Department of the Environment, National Audit Office, Health and Safety Executive), UK Research Councils (ESRC, PPARC, SERC), the British Council, together with international bodies such as the European Commission, the OECD, national governments (Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Greece, Ireland, Japan, Malta, Poland, Sweden) and other local, regional, national and international agencies.
Paul has been involved on a large number of research projects for a variety of sponsors. The majority of these research projects fall into the general area of policy, either science and technology policy or innovation policy. In this context, knowledge transfer translates very strongly as policy impact. The research activities can further be divided into three broad categories of policy impact: research undertaken to inform policy makers on the performance of their interventions – generally taken to mean evaluation, research performed to provide more strategic input to guide policy formulation in the future, and activities in support of broader policy initiatives. A fourth, and overlapping category, is policy-related work which also serves to develop broader academic understanding of the policy process and its impacts and thus which contributes to the corpus of policy-relevant academic material. These policy inputs cover the range from the local, regional and national levels, within the UK, through to studies for other national governments and supra-national organisations.
In all cases, the projects undertaken have been selected on the basis of their contribution to the development of an academic and intellectual profile, their strategic importance in developing and maintaining a presence in ongoing policy activities and their relevance to current science, technology and innovation policy issues. While it is often difficult to demonstrate a direct causality between these studies and their impacts on policy, over the years a broad evidence base has been generated which underlines Paul’s significant contributions to the field of policy making.
Dr Cunningham is currently supervising two PhD students. The first, which has just commenced, is examining the innovation value chain within a Malaysian government institute in the general context of an innovation systems approach. The second, which is just in the process of submission, is an ESRC CASE (Cooperative Awards in Science and Engineering) studentship: Co-supervised by the British Council, this is examining the socio-economic benefits of international collaboration in S&T research. Other recent studentships have examined: HEI/industry links in the NW of England (another CASE award); an evaluation of S&T activity in the Phyto-Pharmaceutical industry in Mexico; and S&T policy in human capital formation in the Mexican biotech sector. He has been joint organiser of an MSc module "Science and Technology and the Environment". In addition he undertakes occasional lectures on "quantitative evaluation techniques" for the Evaluation Core Module and carries out MSc supervision and dissertation marking in appropriate topic areas.
Dr Cunningham is Editor of two publications: Outlook on Science Policy, a monthly newsletter published by Beech Tree Publishing, deals with new and forthcoming developments in the field of science and technology policy; and Science Insight, a monthly update of UK research and higher education matters produced for the British Council is circulated (in hard-copy and electronic formats) to British Council offices, UK Government departments and British Embassies. Finally, he is a member of the Management Committee for the ETEPS ASBL (European Techno-Economic Support Network), of the ERAWATCH AISBL Management Committee and of the INNO-Policy TRENDCHART Policy Board.