Increasing Intellectual Capacity & Depth in Asia to Enable More Adoption of Policy Reforms that Work

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In early September, 22 researchers from 11 countries (Vietnam, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Malaysia), and 13 different think tank organizations gathered in Kuala Lumpur to engage in a series of discussions focused on improving research capabilities in the region, identifying opportunities to collaborate, and creating new research talent pipelines. The event was facilitated by members of Atlas Network’s Innovation Lab and sponsored by the Templeton World Charity Foundation, who also had key members of its staff in attendance.

Why the Freedom Champions’ Summit

“Good policy reform is impossible to identify and advance without high quality, independent research,” said Dr. Lyall Swim, Atlas Network’s Chief Innovation Officer. “This genesis of this summit was rooted in this notion that for good public policy that furthers more open and democratic societies to gain traction, we need to increase the capacity of local think tanks to conduct the kind of quality, evidence-based research that can best inform policymakers and the public about solutions that can improve lives.”

Freedom Champions at Work

Key Challenges & Ways to Collaborate

One of the key research challenges identified by the cohort members was the issue of gathering and having access to quality data and various strategies employed by members of the cohort were shared and discussed as possible ways to overcome these regional data challenges.

In addition, cohort members used the summit identified nine strategies to increase regional collaboration and identified members of the cohort who, with the assistance of Atlas Network’s Innovation Lab, will further develop and execute these strategies in 2024. Some of these strategies included, creating an ongoing panel of peer reviewers, bi-monthly online forums to share current research, externship/exchange programs, and identifying partner pairings where research and topics are addressing similar challenges.

What Participants Said About the Summit

“The Freedom Champions' Summit gives like-minded think tank leaders the unique opportunity to learn about each other’s work and our particular approaches to public policy as well as management challenges. It was an invaluable experience since there is no other event that gives us a full day and hence the necessary time to ask, explain and explore each others' work.”

“[Freedom Champions’ Summit] is necessary and perhaps it should even be a yearly thing to bring people to the same table and have them talk. We have been so busy with our own work that we would have forgotten that help for that research could come from a network of like-minded-people. I have enjoyed all the interactions and the diverging viewpoints from people who come from different backgrounds. I have also been inspired to do things a little differently.”

“The Freedom Champions Summit has connected me with colleagues from other think tanks who are great at research. Even though my organization operates more in the grassroots community with a small research portion, the experience of attending the Freedom Champions Summit inspired me to further strengthen the research base in advocacy work, in addition to greatly expanding my knowledge about various research topics and opportunities for collaboration.”

Freedom's Champions Summit Asia 2023