Skip to main content

What Works Centres

What are What Works Centres and how do you engage with them?

What Works Centres

Recent years have seen the development of a network of ‘What Works Centres’ – mostly non-university research organisations funded or endowed by UK Government Departments to undertake research trials, synthesise evidence, and collate toolkits.

What Works Centres are an important interface between research and policymaking with opportunities for academics to contribute. Some of them have university partners for research trials and evaluations and many have academic advisory groups.

The network is made up of nine independent What Works Centres as well as three affiliates and one associate member. Together they cover policy areas that account for over £250 billion of public spending. They are different from standard research institutions; their outputs are tailored to the specific evidence needs of decision-makers within public services, such as schools, the police, Local Authorities and Whitehall departments.

Building better connections with What Works Centres can be a good route to achieving policy impact with your research findings.

Current What Works Centres include:

What Works Centres Policy area
National Institute for Health and care excellence (NICE) Health and social care
Education Endowment Foundation Educational achievement
College of Policing What Works Centre for crime reduction Crime reduction
Foundations Children and families
What Works Centre for Local Economic Growth (hosted by LSE, Arup, Centre for Cities) Local economic growth
Centre for Ageing Better Improving quality of life for older people
Centre for Homelessness Impact Homelessness
Youth Futures Foundation Youth employment
Wales Centre for Public Policy Welsh public policy
Affiliate: Youth Endowment Fund Youth offending
Affiliate: Centre for Transforming Access and Student Outcomes in Higher Education Higher education
Affiliate: The Money and Pensions Service Financial wellbeing

Find out more about the network on the Government's website.


  • Identify What Works Centres relevant to your area.
  • Follow relevant What Works Centres on social media and subscribe to their email updates - these often include events lists and requests to participate in research.
  • Attend What Works Centres' events.
  • Build policy connections with individuals involved in What Works Centres sharing your research and expertise and inviting them to attend events.
  • Consider bidding to run research trials with What Works Centres, or partnering with them on research applications where there is mutual interest.

Further information

Learning from others

Read about Bath academics who have experiences working with What Works Centres:

On this page