Researcher in Focus: Professor Mark Boyle of the Heseltine Institute for Public Policy, Practice and Place

Posted on: 30 April 2018 by Nick Jones in 2018 Posts

Mark Boyle
Professor Mark Boyle

Meet Professor Mark Boyle and learn more about the University of Liverpool's Heseltine Institute for Public Policy, Practice and Place.

Over the past few months, new Director and Deputy Director of the Heseltine Institute Professor Mark Boyle and Dr Aileen Jones have been consulting with faculty from across the university and with key stakeholders throughout the Liverpool City Region as they embark upon the next phase in the development of the institute.   

“We have spoken to over 100 people now and have gained a really good sense of the outstanding opportunities which now fall at the feet of the institute” says Professor Boyle. “It is screamingly clear that there is an acute need for an institute like the Heseltine, that our forbears have secured for us a strong reputation and much good will, but also that many exciting chapters lie ahead”.

The Heseltine Institute for Public Policy, Practice and Place is the University of Liverpool’s city-facing public policy institute. It brings together academic expertise from across the University with policy-makers and practitioners to support the development of successful, sustainable cities and city-regions with a focus on former industrial cities in the throes of regeneration such as the Liverpool City Region. The Institute is also the lead body for the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences' Sustainable Cities research theme.

The mission

The Institute’s mission is to be a non-partisan, internationally recognised research institute and thought leader, bringing together expertise from across the University and policy communities, to co-create, impact and influence public policies for tomorrow’s cities.

It does this by:

  • Undertaking, funding and publishing fundamental and applied research,
  • Providing thought leadership, consultancy and advice,
  • Convening and hosting conferences, provocations, workshops and seminars
  • Building and strengthening academic-practitioner networks and pathways to knowledge exchange
  • Developing capacity building, providing training courses and resources; and
  • Providing an evidence base to have impact on public policy

Professor Boyle took up the post of Director in January 2018; previously he served as Chair in Geography at Maynooth University in Ireland and National Contact Point for Ireland for the ERDF Urbact III Programme. Dr Aileen Joined the Heseltine Institute in September 2017, after fifteen years of working in public policy, most recently heading up HSBC’s public policy team in the UK

According to Professor Boyle a number of developments provide a new urgency to the work of the institute:

“The deepening of the Impact agenda within the HEI sector, with plans for a KEF, alongside the REF and TEF elevates further the value of bridging fundamental intellectual enquiry with public policy imperatives. Meanwhile globalisation, deindustrialisation, uneven geographical development and the politics of the left behinds haunts the policy landscape.”

Dr Jones likewise observes:

Important local developments provide  a new context for the institute, including: the Liverpool City-Deal, Metro-Mayor and Combined Authority, the ongoing regeneration of the city, the trajectory of the post-crash economy, the new industrial strategy, the demand for inclusive growth and fairness, and the opportunities presented by the low carbon agenda”.

So what vision does the Heseltine Institute have for tomorrow’s cities?

“We are for sustainable urban development (SUD), marked by participatory models of governance (co-created solutions), diverse economies (new wealth for old cities), social justice (inclusive growth) and environmental sustainability (low carbon and resilient cities)”.

Recent work has included a seminal benchmarking of the economic and social ‘health’ of the Liverpool City Region,  an assessment of the renaissance of Albert Docks, the regeneration of the Hattersley estate in Manchester, the prospects for health devolution in the Liverpool City Region, and the scope, scale and value of the social economy in Liverpool.  

According to Professor Boyle and Dr Jones,

“Moving forward, the Institute will continued to work across a broad range of critical urban issues including  balanced regional development, English devolution, combined authorities and the metro mayors,  the social economy, Brexit, its impacts and responses, diverse leadership and gender equality, heritage, low carbon transitions and climate resilience, smart cities and health and health governance”.