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Impact Champion accolade awarded for busting myths on UK-EU relations

Professor Anand Menon's success in creating the go-to place for answers to everyone’s questions on Brexit and UK-EU relations has won him a top award for supporting and enabling other researchers to make an impact in society.

In just 18 months, Professor Menon and his team have built the UK in a Changing Europe initiative into a trusted resource for authoritative and impartial information and analysis on the UK's relationship with Europe. His inspirational leadership of a 16-strong team of leading academics, as well as his significant personal contribution during the EU referendum and after, have won Professor Menon the title of Impact Champion in the 2017 Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Celebrating Impact Prize.

The UK in a Changing Europe initiative, funded by the ESRC and based at King's College London, was launched in 2014 as a non-partisan reference point on all aspects of UK and EU dynamics, including attitudes towards the EU and the impact of EU policies on the UK. By June 2016, with EU referendum debate at its height, Professor Menon and his team were already cited by the Guardian and the Economist as a key source for impartial, research-based information on UK-EU relations. 

Professor Menon's personal role in securing the initiative's reputation among policymakers, journalists, businesses, civil society organisations and educational institutions has been instrumental. In the run-up to the EU referendum, and now in Brexit debates, he is constantly featured in the media, frequently using research findings published by UK in a Changing Europe to debunk myths and misconceptions on the EU.

Professor Menon was the discovery of the referendum, says Julie Hulme, Head of Newsgathering, ITV News. "He is a supreme communicator, a rarity in academic circles. He gets how important it is to explain complex issues clearly for the audience. Add to that his impartiality and authority and you have the perfect contributor."

Beyond his personal contribution to UK in a Changing Europe’s success, this year's Impact Champion gained the plaudits of ESRC Celebrating Impact Prize judges for his "strong team leadership role in enabling and supporting his team to achieve impact and undertake knowledge exchange activities and public engagement".

Professor Menon put together a particularly strong team drawn from well-recognised experts including Professor John Curtice, the BBC's election night pollster, Professor Jonathan Portes, former Cabinet Office Chief Economist, and EU law and employment specialist, Professor Catherine Barnard.

Team members point to Professor Menon’s enthusiasm, engaging presence and willingness to lead from the front as key factors in inspiring his team to attract widespread attention to their research findings. To engage with the widest possible audience, Professor Menon and his team organised diverse events during the EU referendum including more than 40 'town hall' events across the country, providing dialogue between voters and UK in a Changing Europe fellows; a series of school talks, reaching 1,200 pupils; Q&A events in venues ranging from pubs to a prison; and creative use of social media, videos and infographics to engage new audiences.

Professor Menon also encouraged his team to reach out with varied types of engagement. He supported collaborative work such as the Brexit and beyond report to magnify the reach and impact of individual researchers, and advised where to place research to gain maximum publicity. Building on his own networks, he helped his team widen their contacts across government, civil service, devolved administrations, and the media. He organised, for example, briefings to MPs from all parties prior to the EU referendum and more recently with David Davies MP, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. 

Professor Menon believes he and his team will be making an impact in society well into the future. "Brexit may be dominating our political life for the next two years, but arguably it's only when we leave the EU that we’ll find out what it all means," he points out. "There's ten years of Brexit to go, and our aim is to provide political parties, businesses, the general public and, indeed, people from EU member states with the information they need about Brexit, what it means and how it may play out."

Further information

Notes for editors

  1. Professor Anand Menon, who is Director of the ESRC-funded the UK in a Changing Europe initiative based at King's College London, was named Impact Champion in the 2017 ESRC Celebrating Impact Prize, receiving a prize award of £10,000. The awards ceremony took place at Central Hall, Westminster on 21 June 2017
  2. The ESRC Celebrating Impact Prize is an annual opportunity to recognise and reward the successes of ESRC-funded researchers who have achieved, or are currently achieving, outstanding economic and societal impacts. First run in 2013 and now in its fifth year, the prize celebrates collaborative working, partnerships, engagement and knowledge exchange activities that have led to significant impact of ESRC-funded research. In addition to the prize for Impact Champion, prizes were presented in five other categories: Outstanding Impact in Business and Enterprise, Outstanding International Impact, Outstanding Impact in Public Policy, Outstanding Impact in Society and Outstanding Early Career Impact (in partnership with SAGE Publishing).
  3. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest funder of research on the social and economic questions facing us today. It supports the development and training of the UK’s future social scientists and also funds major studies that provide the infrastructure for research. ESRC-funded research informs policymakers and practitioners and helps make businesses, voluntary bodies and other organisations more effective. The ESRC also works collaboratively with six other UK research councils and Innovate UK to fund cross-disciplinary research and innovation addressing major societal challenges. The ESRC is an independent organisation, established by Royal Charter in 1965, and funded mainly by the Government.
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