Business people at an event

External engagement

At the Bristol Centre for Economics and Finance (BCEF), we view engagement with external organisations as crucial to the intellectual development of the Centre. We receive research and consultancy funding from a wide range of organisations, as well as providing informal support and advice

BCEF’s wealth of knowledge and expertise is available to businesses, charities, public sector organisations and government departments through a range of project and consultancy services. Organisations benefit from access to outstanding analytical skills and wide-ranging experience in all areas of business, economics and governance.

We work with external organisations in three ways:

  • funded and informal consultancy;
  • funded research; and
  • continuing professional development (CPD).

For us, the line between consultancy and research is blurred; the important outcome is intellectual activity which changes organisations and societies. The research case studies page has detailed examples of how our work makes a difference.

Consultancy and advice to organisations

Our team can help towards a specific goal or with a long-term programme of change. We work with many organisations over the long-term, becoming a real partner in their problem solving and development. Our work includes data analytics, evaluation, organisational structure, change management, and restructuring and re-engineering analysis.

Example projects include:

  • advising electricity companies on how to change their tariffs to encourage use of off-peak electricity
  • working with regional businesses to understand more about what drives productivity
  • evaluating Bristol City Council’s Workplace Wellbeing Charter
  • helping the TUC develop an app for apprentices to check that they receive the minimum wage
  • helping a major charity review its use of the Index of Multiple Deprivation in allocating grant funding.

Externally funded research

Much of our research is funded by external bodies such as the Economic and Social Research Council, the European Commission, and research funding charities. Research funding focuses on longer-term issues; for example, funded research projects have:

  • highlighted to UN agencies the risks in private-sector financing of development aid
  • evaluated the imputation techniques used by the Low Pay Commission
  • analysed the long-term drivers of unemployment
  • explored the cultural fit of high-income models of data governance in developing countries
  • suggested ways that community planning can promote social cohesion.

Business engagement and professional development

We have an extensive programme of business engagement. Recent hosted events have included business breakfast meetings, BAFA’s South West Regional Conference, CIMA training events, and the Office for National Statistics’ regional Economic Forum. Where possible, we try to ensure that events are accessible to students as well: we see early engagement with business and government as crucial to the development of our students’ practical skills.

We also offer professional development training. We have our own CPD courses in econometrics, economic evaluation, and accounting practice; and we have worked with organisations to develop bespoke course on modern financial systems, data management and statistics.

Current and past funded projects

The table below indicates the range of our expertise and interest to funders. It lists externally funded projects and clients in recent academic years (excluding CPD and PhD funding; some pre-2015 projects are not included):

Project title


Managing supercycles: Globalisation and institutional change National Institute of Economic and Social Research
Advice on cross-government data sharing
Office of the National Data Commissioner, Australia
Securitisation and sustainability
Heinrich Boell Foundation
Data governance for the Nepal Injury Research Centre
National Institute for Health Research



Confidentiality training Phase II
Office for National Statistics
Maximising finance for development
Centre of Concern & Heinrich Boell Foundation
National Statistics and modern financial systems
Office for National Statistics 
Advice on longitudinal weights for earnings data Office for National Statistics
Reassessing the Index of Multiple Deprivation Power to Change
An estimation of unemployment hysteresis
Austrian Ministry of Social Affairs
Developing train-the-trainer training
Office for National Statistics

Exploring VfM in a charity setting

British Accounting and Finance Association

The Bank – Sovereign nexus in Europe: planning for growth, de-risking the future?

 Foundation for Progressive European Studies

Confidentiality training

Office for National Statistics

COHSMO  European Commission
Productivity in Wales
 Welsh Assembly Government
Provision of advice to the Hellenic Statistical Authority
 European Commission



Non-compliance with the minimum wage in the informal sector

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

Review of anonymisation of EU-LFS and EU-SILC
 European Commission
Managing shadow money
 Institute for New Economic Thinking

Access to Australian social services data

Australian Government
The role of indeterminacy and self-fulfilling expectations in emerging economies
 British Academy

Provision of a trademark applications forecasting model

 Intellectual Property Office

Build and quality assurance of ARDx

 Office for National Statistics

An investigation into the causes of non-compliance with the Apprentice Rate Pay Structure

 Low Pay Commission


Evaluation of economic impacts

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

SelfCity: Self-organising as a frame for collective action on sustainability

Economic and Social Research Council/European Commission

Rebuilding the Annual Respondents Database

Office for National Statistics

Modelling the interactions between the ecosystem, the financial system and the macro economy

Network for Social Change

Progressive macroeconomic scenarios for Europe

Foundation for European Progressive Studies

Regional growth fund: Impact and economic evaluation

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

Enabling data linkage in public health research

Wellcome Trust

Anonymisation of the Community Innovation Survey 2010

European Commission

Productivity and workplace health

Bristol City Council

Consultancy for the administrative data service

Economic and Social Research Council

International and domestic comparisons of Apprentice Pay

Low Pay Commission

Assessing the reliability and usefulness of official data sources

Low Pay Commission

Workplace Employment Relations Study (WERS) and European Social Survey (ESS) Impact Study

Economic and Social Research Council

For further information, please contact the Centre.

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