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The Bridge

About The Bridge at Hughes Hall

The Bridge initiative leverages the College’s multi-disciplinary perspective, international nature and external focus to bring the research and expertise of its academic community to solve real world problems. The Bridge facilitates interaction and connection between academic experts and policy-makers, practitioners and industry leaders to promote dialogue, understanding and innovation. It drives the translation of research and knowledge, turning brilliant ideas into lasting change, and equips our researchers to progress successfully in their future careers, whether in academia or the wider world.

Our aim is to change the world for the better and, in doing so, to earn a reputation as a dynamic institution which has a direct impact on our people, our partners, and our society – locally, nationally, and globally. We are working to equip future generations of graduates to transition from academia into their professional lives, making a positive contribution in their chosen sector and, ultimately, to contribute to making the world a better place. We want to support our academic body in applying their expertise to some of the world’s most pressing problems through collaboration and supported multi-disciplinary project platforms. We connect with research translation ecosystems and broker partnerships around the UK, and beyond, to ensure our solutions are relevant, practical, impactful, multi-faceted and of benefit to many; especially those in low and middle income countries. We aim to bring the expertise of Cambridge to the world; and enable Hughes Hall’s academic and student bodies to change the world for the better.

The Bridge at Hughes Hall connects academic experts with leaders in policy, practice and commerce, to turn ideas and expertise into lasting change, for the benefit of all. We do this in three ways:

Cultivating connections

The Bridge brokers connections amongst Hughes Hall’s and the University of Cambridge’s diverse academic community to support informed multi-disciplinary collaboration. We also connect our academics with external leaders in policy, practice and business environments for mutual benefit and to further our projects which aim to help wider society. We research knowledge transfer networks, nurturing relationships within the translation ecosystem in Cambridge and beyond. This work is about maximising our impact in addressing the world’s most pressing problems by nurturing a collaborative force for good consisting of leading practitioners, influential decision-makers and cutting-edge researchers.

Equipping our people

One component of The Bridge is preparing many of our current research community for life – and impact – beyond the college gates: in other research environments, business, policy-making, and practice. We aim to improve their understanding of the pathway from research into practice, helping them in learning transferrable skills, providing exposure to a range of professional environments and linking them with people whose skillsets and knowledge can drive their future success. We are developing a programme of opportunities, experiences, events and contacts to enable the development of relevant skills and expertise, and to provide a platform from which Hughes Hall’s researchers can set and work towards personal goals, as well as broader ambitions to become a major force for good in the world.

Delivering solutions

Within The Bridge, we have established four theme-based expert groups which provide a dynamic platform for thought-leadership and multi-disciplinary collaboration to generate solutions for some of the most pressing problems in the world today. Through focused projects, each theme draws on internal academic expertise, translation network partnerships and external contacts within influential environments. These external experts include our City Fellows, alumni and leaders within policy, practice and business with whom we have forged links. Our four themes are in the following categories:

  • Global Health and Wellbeing
  • Education
  • Energy, environment and climate change
  • Artificial Intelligence and Data

Who we are

Stephen Axford

The Bridge is led by Dr Stephen Axford, Director of Research Translation and Hughes Hall Governing Body Fellow.

Stephen joined Hughes Hall in March 2018 to set up The Bridge and support the College’s researchers in exploiting their work more effectively in a range of external environments. Prior to Hughes Hall, Stephen spent 21 years in Whitehall, most recently in the Business Department overseeing the science and innovation budget and the work of Research Councils and Innovate UK, and supporting the transition to the new single funding body, UK Research and Innovation. He was responsible for support and funding for the UK’s National Academies, including the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering. He has also worked with key industry sectors to develop long-term industrial strategies in areas such as Agri-food, Chemicals and Biotech; and has led joint industry and government development of STEM education programmes and public engagement with science. Stephen previously worked in the Environment department and the Ministry of Defence, and he began his career as an academic working in physical chemistry and chemical engineering. Stephen can be contacted on 01223 330 452 or by emailing: bridge.director@hughes.cam.ac.uk.

Aldabra Stoddart

Aldabra has joined us as Research Translation Manager (Sustainability). She has experience in the research translation arena and in managing complex data sets and information systems; and supports the development of the Bridge through analysis and research work.

Aldabra has worked at a number of institutions across Cambridge and has a degree in International Studies, a Master’s degree in the History and Philosophy of Science and a Diploma in Environment and Development. She can be contacted by email on aldabra.stoddart@hughes.cam.ac.uk.

Jimmy Chan

Over the past year we have also benefited from the support of Dr Jimmy Chan, one of our By-Fellows, who provides considerable insight from his former career with a global investment firm. Jimmy continues to advise on strategic implementation issues and has a particular focus on the development of a curriculum, equipping our people for life beyond the College gates.