A group of people in conversation in a dimly lit room at the Policy Lab Festival 2024

Justin Margovan / Wellcome

Licence: All Rights Reserved

Wellcome Policy Lab

We’re experimenting with more creative ways to develop policy and engage decision-makers to help Wellcome deliver its mission across climate and health, discovery research, infectious disease and mental health. 

What we want to achieve  

We want to be more creative in both the policy processes we use and the products we create.  

By using creative tools and methods for policy development alongside more traditional approaches, we aim to generate better policy insights and recommendations that reflect the complexities, nuances and political realities of the policy areas in which we work. Taking imaginative approaches may also help to pique the interest of decision-makers. 

We’re working with organisations who share our enthusiasm for doing things differently – from academic organisations and charities to communication and design agencies – to experiment with new approaches and find ways to embed these approaches in Wellcome’s policy work.  

Overall, we hope that expanding the range of tools and approaches in Wellcome’s policy ‘toolkit’ will encourage new ways of working within our team and increase the impact of Wellcome’s policy work. 

What we’ve done so far  

Martin Smith, Head of Policy Lab and our partners share what they set out to do and what they learned along on the way.

Policy Lab pilot in 2023

In 2023, we launched Wellcome Policy Lab with a global search for partners to pilot imaginative, experimental and ambitious tools that push the boundaries of how policy is usually done. We wanted to learn from their work and use it to inspire creativity in Wellcome’s policy work in the future. 

Since then, we’ve worked with four partners to experiment with a range of creative policy approaches. 

1. Collaborative mosaic-making to visualise and explore complex policy issues

Scientia Scripta led a coalition of partners to trial collaborative mosaic-making to help visualise policy challenges and problems in more creative ways.

Read the report on mosaic-making in policy

Watch a video to learn more about mosaic-making in policy

2. A ‘Tomorrow Party’ to imagine new futures to unlock new policy solutions

Monash University researchers developed a futures method called the Tomorrow Party. Using innovative props and ‘party’ inspired accessories, participants co-created an experience that invited them to picture and describe different futures.

Read the report on party methods in policy

3. Serious games and simulation to understand people’s lived experiences of health policy and systems

Thumbi Labs and the Centre for Mental Health Law & Policy have piloted the use of a storytelling game and simulation to inform policy discussions on local governance and mental health in India.

Read the report on serious games in policy

4. Humour and circus arts to explore how ‘serious fun’ can foster new thinking within policy dialogues

Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre led an interdisciplinary team to evaluate different ways to harness humour and circus arts to help reshape policy dialogues relating to climate change and mental health.

Read the report on humour and circus arts in policy

In early 2024, we hosted a Policy Lab Festival at the Design Museum in London to share learning from the pilots and bring together a community of organisations that are championing creative approaches to policy. 

Our team