How we work

Public policy think tanks are a prominent feature of public life elsewhere in the UK and Ireland – including Edinburgh, Dublin, Cardiff and London. They help develop long–term thinking, contribute substantially to public debate and foster new policy networks.   

But no wide–ranging think tanks exist in Northern Ireland, where we believe new ideas are needed as much as – if not more than – anywhere else.

We have serious problems stemming from economic underperformance, social dysfunction associated with the community divide and creaking public services. Even when functioning as intended, the nature of our political institutions makes these challenges especially difficult to grip.

Pivotal works to tackle the public policy challenges facing our society by: 

  • Fostering debate about the future, unlike traditional political discourse, tending too often to divide, and look backwards;
  • Bringing new voices into the public debate and encouraging a greater contribution from the business community and civic society, in particular those who are less involved, such as young people and women, but also business;
  • Providing a forum in which citizens and people from different sectors – public, academic, private and voluntary – can examine issues, bring new perspectives and generate fresh ideas;
  • Convening discussion and debate, involving voices from other places with similar challenges, researchers and experts, local decision–makers, the people who implement policies and the public who stand to benefit when policy is effective – and suffer when it is not.

By doing so, and working independently, we build bridges between a range of fields – government, private sector, community sector and academia. This allows us to look at problems from new angles and devise solutions that enjoy broad support.

But Pivotal is not only a forum for discussion. We conduct in–depth, credible research on major public policy challenges and make it available to all. We seek to produce ideas that are both ambitious and realistic, as well as effective and implementable. We work to ensure that they are applied in the policy–making process.

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