Skip to main content

Public Health Wales joins a new behavioural research hub

Published: 9 November 2023

Public Health Wales is pleased to announce its role in the establishment of Behavioural Research UK (BR-UK), a transformative initiative which will help tackle societal and economic challenges in the UK.  

The hub is being established following a £13 million funding injection from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), marking a huge advancement in the field of behavioural research in the United Kingdom.  The Behavioural Science Unit at Public Health Wales was invited to join the consortium and helped develop the successful funding bid alongside colleagues from Cardiff University and Welsh Government.  

Understanding human behaviour and how it shapes organisations, communities and societies is fundamental to addressing current and future global challenges. The five-year ESRC funding programme will support BR-UK to build a behavioural research community to address these challenges, driving interdisciplinary innovation in the field. 

BR-UK will be co-led led by recognised experts in the field of behavioural research: Professor Linda Bauld, the Bruce and John Usher Chair of Public Health at The University of Edinburgh's Usher Institute, and Chief Social Policy Advisor to the Scottish Government and Professor Susan Michie, Director of the Centre for Behavioural Change at University College London. 

The formation of BR-UK is underpinned by a collaboration of leading academics across a spectrum of disciplines, spanning eight universities, across the UK.  The consortium also includes active engagement of government bodies from Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, along with agencies and organisations that intersect with areas such as transport, food security, health protection, communication, entrepreneurship, and more. 

The collaboration will provide leadership to harness, connect and extend the UK’s existing capacity and capability in behavioural research, supporting the mobilisation of research into policy and practice. 

The £13 million funding announced by the ESRC will constitute the centrepiece of the council's commitment to fostering behavioural science research within the United Kingdom. The partnership seeks to catalyse innovation, promote interdisciplinary collaboration, and drive the translation of research insights into policy and practical applications. 

Ashley Gould, Programme Director of the Public Health Wales Behavioural Science Unit said: "Our participation in BR-UK reflects our commitment to improving public health outcomes through the routine use of behavioural science. We are proud to have been invited to join the consortium from its inception, and to have contributed to a winning bid for this transformative initiative. 

"The ESRC funding and the establishment of BR-UK represent a huge opportunity to further behavioural research. Our involvement in the consortium will enable us to input to, and then bring to bear, leading behavioural research to increase the impact of public health and social policies." 

The creation of BR-UK holds the promise of revolutionising behavioural science research and its impact on public health and social policy. By harnessing the collective expertise of leading institutions and governmental stakeholders, this initiative is positioned to drive innovation and create a lasting influence on the lives of individuals and communities across the United Kingdom.