Personal profile


I am Professor of Science and Technology Policy at the Alliance Manchester Business School and a member of the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research (formerly PREST). I have published conceptual and empirical work on a range of issues in science, technology and innovation policy. I've also worked with or advised international, national and regional/local policy-makers. I'm an active commentator on science, technology and economic development policy and have been quoted in a range of publications. I also comment on science policy issues on Twitter as @kieronflanagan and on Mastodon as I was formerly a contributor and co-editor of the Guardian newspaper's 'Political Science' science policy blog. I still sometimes write at the blog's new home on the Research Professional website.

I teach courses on science and technology policy, science-society issues and innovation policy to Manchester undergraduates and postgraduates. I am also heavily involved in executive education through the suite of Manchester Institute of Innovation Research executive short courses, through courses offered by Alliance Manchester Business School, and until recently also through the UK Newton Fund supported Global Innovation Policy Accelerator (led by NESTA).

I am currently Associate Director for Research Impact and Knowledge Exchange at AMBS. Before that I held the role of Director of Postgraduate Taught Programmes for the school, responsible for the portfolio of specialised MSc programmes. I have also previously acted as Director of Undergraduate Programmes for the school.

I am a member of the management committee of the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, of the executive commitee of AsSIST-UK, the UK scholarly association for science and technology studies and innovation studies, and of the executive committe of the Eu-SPRI Forum, a network of major European centres in the field. I'm also a member of the ESRC-supported Innovation and Research Caucus, a member of the North West Regional Productivity Forum and a member of the UKRI-funded Productivity Institute.


I teach science policy studies and science and society issues to undergraduates across the University through the University College for Interdisciplinary Learning (UCIL) and to postgraduate students on the MSc in Science and Health Communication. I also teach the spatial dimensions of science and innovation policy from a local economic development policy perspective to postgraduate students on the Alliance Manchester Business School's MSc in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship.  

I have supervised doctoral, MPhil and DBA students working on a range of S&T policy and innovation studies topics. I am currently supervising a small group of research students on a range of 'science diplomacy' topics (e.g. the governance of Antarctic science, China's space programmes as instruments of 'soft power', and the historic role of the British Council in UK science diplomacy) mostly jointly supervised with my colleague Dr Simone Turchetti in CHSTM). I continue to supervise research students in the more general areas of science policy and innovation studies. (Please see the 'Student Theses' tab for information on my supervisory research interests).


Research interests

My early research was on innovation in knowledge intensive business services (KIBS) and creative services, but most of my work has been in the areas of science, technology and innovation policy. I don't come from any specific social science disciplinary background - my first degree was in environmental biology. Today I work in the spaces between a number of disciplines and problem areas, drawing on what used to be known as 'innovation studies' and STS, policy sciences/studies and (economic) geography. I also increasingly draw upon the work of (and indeed work with) historians of science and technology, not least my Manchester colleagues in the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine

My more conceptual work focuses on the role of actors, agency, ideas and institutions in complex 'multi-level' policy dynamics, and on the possibilities for innovation/industrial policy stemming from the distributed, multi-scalar nature of (grand) challenges and problems (and how these turn into ‘demand’ for innovative products, processes and services). This has led to a strand of work on regional (sub-national) science and innovation policies, and on 'demand-side' innovation policies such as public procurement of innovation. 

I also have a long-standing interest in research performing organizations, research infrastructures and the international dimensions of S&T, including collaboration, migration/mobility of researchers and what is increasingly called ‘science diplomacy'. I am fascinated by the tensions between the heavily 'national' nature of science policies and the nationalistic rationales offered for them and both the universalist aspirations of the scientific enterprise and the unevenly globalised reality of modern (techno-)science.

I have also recently been looking at non-university UK government S&T 'systems' under austerity and other pressures, building on some earlier, internationally comparative, work on government labs and on the ways in which expert advice is offered to, and sought by, policy-makers. These government S&T systems have now, of course, been put under fresh scrutiny following the Covid-19 pandemic. More generally I have written on trends and issues in UK science policy. 

Finally, I have worked extensively on futures/foresight studies on diverse topics. And I retain an interest in innovation in knowledge-intensive business services (KIBS) and in creative sectors, supervising PhD and post-doc projects in these areas though I don't actively research in them.

My research has been funded by national governments, international organisations, UK research councils and NGOs. I have published in a range of journals including Research Policy, Regional StudiesResearch Evaluation and Science and Public Policy.

Supervision information

I am currently co-supervising a small group of research students on a range of 'science diplomacy' topics (e.g. the governance of Antarctic science, China's space programmes as instruments of 'soft power', and the historic role of the British Council in UK science diplomacy) all jointly with my colleague Simone Turchetti in Manchester's Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine). I also currently supervise a number of PhD students working on other topics in science, technology and innovation policy, including one comparing the regional innovation systems of two Chinese cities and another on discourses and change in STI policies.


Interested in applying for a PhD? Read this:

In common with most of my colleagues I unfortunately receive a large number of poorly targeted PhD inquiries, which in many cases have been mass mailed to many colleagues with no personalisation, and without acknowledgement that it is a mass mailout.

Doing the necessary research on potential supervisors is not only the first step in the PhD journey but a strong indication about your research skills and suitability for doctoral research. If you are contacting more than one prospective supervisor with the same project idea that is fine but please just say so.

My main supervisory interest is in the broad area of science and technology policy, especially where the focus is on the policy-making process or policy dynamics (for example the role of scientists, expertise and evidence in policy making, and more generally how the agency of actors, including policy and institutional entrepreneurs but also policy targets and implementers, affects public policy and its outcomes). I am also interested in critical work on 'foundational' and often taken-for-granted concepts in the area of S&T and innovation policy (for instance the 'systems of innovations' concept).

I am also interested in supervising work on sub-national (regional and local) science and innovation policies, especially as they relate to the kinds of dynamics described above.

Again, I am also interested in supervising work on scientific research careers and the international mobility of researchers, and work on the international dimensions of science more generally (including science and diplomacy) and in work on the public communication of science and technology policies (e.g. by journalists and commentators).

Finally, on the innovation studies side I am open to co-supervising doctoral research on innovation dynamics in non technology based or creative service sectors, although prospective students should be warned that I am no longer an active researcher in these areas. But if you wanted to propose a project on innovation policies for these sectors I would be particularly interested!  


Important: Digital government/information systems implementation projects

I am not qualified in IT systems implementation studies - please do not get in touch to propose such projects. My colleagues in other parts of the School or University would make much more appropriate potential supervisors.

I am currently supervising 6 postgraduate research students. I am not actively seeking additional students at the moment - but will always be open to strong applicants with an interesting project idea. If you've read this far and you have a genuinely strong project idea that is genuinely relevant to my interests then by all means do get in touch. It is a good idea to always copy in the departmental PhD programme co-ordinator to any such correspondence. The current co-ordinator is Dr Karl Täuscher

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action

Areas of expertise

  • H Social Sciences (General)
  • Science Policy
  • Technology Policy
  • Innovation Policy
  • Regional policy
  • Economic Policy
  • Public Policy
  • Governance
  • Science Communication
  • Science and Technology Studies
  • Science and Society
  • Science Diplomacy
  • Industrial Strategy
  • Industrial Policy
  • Productivity
  • Technological Sovereignty

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Policy@Manchester
  • Digital Futures
  • Energy
  • Manchester Institute of Innovation Research
  • Creative Manchester


  • Science, technology & innovation policy
  • industrial strategy
  • internationalisation
  • science diplomacy
  • regions
  • science communication
  • creative industries innovation


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