There are two stories to tell when exploring the origins of Sphere. The first story is about how Sphere was born. The second story is about how the Sphere project developed in its first year of existence, particularly in terms of how buy-in and ownership were achieved (or in some cases, not). This story throws up interesting and important lessons - for both researchers and policy-makers - about the policy process, especially when success depends upon buy-in from a range of different actors. This paper covers both stories, reflecting on what can be learned, and especially on what has worked in both phases that is relevant to bridging research and policy.