2020 applicants

ESRC Business and Local Government Data Research Centre

Part of School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering

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Exploring data. Enhancing knowledge. Empowering society.

We bring data to life, forging links between stakeholders at all levels, we help them use data to find better solutions and support innovation.

We enable renowned researchers to work with organisations effecting real change. Together with our partners, we help resolve the biggest challenges of our time.

We collaborate with private sector, public sector and not-for-profit organisations who can wield the transformative power of data to benefit their communities. By supporting them in implementing best practice, we create real-world impact, influencing policy and informing practice.

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), we aim to be the UK’s centre of choice for data research. We act as a hub of knowledge that reaches beyond Essex into a global network of experts, organisations and innovators. This ensures the far-reaching impact of our best practice models and concepts. Situated in the Knowledge Gateway of the University of Essex, we provide access to funding, training and world-leading expertise in data analytics.


Can your organisation get more out of your data?

We are collecting more data than ever. Organisations gather huge amounts of data, but they don’t always know its value. We help them uncover the power and insight hidden in their data, optimising the potential for machine learning, artificial intelligence, and analytics.

The time and expertise of our distinguished researchers is available in the form of consultancy, training and events each of which is funded through the work of the Centre. Projects that require greater support can gain access to funding through a Data Analytics Innovation Voucher (DAIV).

We work with the private and public sectors, and with not-for-profit organisations. Our offering allows them to use data to solve problems and support growth. By serving as a hub for data expertise, we can translate knowledge into practical solutions. Together with our partners, we empower society

This project has provided us with a data driven approach which has now allowed for our data to best inform our strategic planning and ongoing decisions. We can now better attract inward investment and have successfully made our area a more desirable place to live and work. This would not have been possible without the use of our data and expertise provided by the Centre.
John Stenhouse Programme Manager, Greater Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority

Upcoming Events

13 August 2020 - Colchester Digital: Putting your data strategy to the test: small data for big problems

Hear from Senior Researchers at ESRC Business and Local Government Data Research Centre, on improving your data strategy and overcoming data shortages.

In the digital era, data has never been more important. Some of the most successful organisations today use data in their everyday operations to improve their services and better understand their customers.

Join us to hear from leading experts Husam Quteineh and Kakia Chatsiou in the field of data analytics from the University of Essex ESRC Business and Local Government Data Research Centre, with useful advice on how to improve your own data strategy through a series of simple steps.

We will also walk you through examples of overcoming data shortages in text based applications in the Natural Language Processing (NLP) domain.

This webinar will be held on Thursday 13 August 2020 from 6:30pm to 7:45pm.

Register for this event

26th August 2020 - Bounce back from COVID-19: How to conduct a data audit

How can you unlock the hidden value of your data? Firstly, you need to know what you are collecting, identify the gaps and find solutions.

A data audit is one of the most effective ways to identify problem areas, opportunities and efficiencies. So whether you want to enhance your impact or increase profit, a data audit is an essential part of your overall strategy to bounce back from COVID-19.

This webinar will cover the simple steps to conduct a data audit, how, why and when to audit, plus top tips from data analysts working in the field. This webinar is more than just GDPR compliance, this is about how to conduct an audit that will make a difference to your organisation.

We know, now more then ever, organisations across the world need to become adaptive, flexible and use intelligent decision making driven by evidence. Data can help you.

Whether you have only just started collecting data or are further on in your digital journey, this webinar provides the foundations to help you build on success to date.

Plus find out how to register your interest in grant-funded data analytics support.

This is part of a series designed to help you bounce back from COVID-19. Become more resilient and take advantage of the benefits data can bring.

This webinar will take place on Wednesday 26th August at 10:30am. Register your place on Zoom.

Postponed - GDPR Charity Masterclass

Please note that this event has been postponed. If you have already registered for this event we will contact you with the new date once it is confirmed.

The general data protection regulation (GDPR) is the biggest overhaul of data protection legislation for over 25 years. It effects all areas of charity practice from fundraising to consents, client data and more.

This session will cover everything you need to know about GDPR compliance, data collection and how it applies to you. Join us for this interactive workshop as we discuss what you need to know about GDPR delivered by leading expert Dr Audrey Guinchaird.

Book your place now, or email BLGDataResearch@essex.ac.uk if you have any queries.

7th October 2020 - Open Source Data – How and why open data is useful

If you want to evidence need, understand the sector or predict future demand, then open data could provide valuable insight.

Open data is information that can be freely used, re-used and redistributed by anyone.

Open data can be useful to businesses, charities and public sector alike.  Many organisations are unaware of the open data resources that are now available to them.

With a wealth of data freely available at your fingertips, now is the time to embrace this valuable resources. 

Join us for this webinar to learn:

  • What are open data and the opportunities (and challenges) of using them
  • Recent trends in using open data for business, charity and public sector organisations
  • The best portals for open data
  • Step by step guide on how to get started
  • Ways to bridge the data skill gap
  • Moving from access to understanding (analysis) and how to access grant-funded support

Learn this and much more as we delve into the world of open data with leading expert Dr Kakia Chatsiou.

Plus have your questions answered live with our experts as we bring data to life.

This webinar will take place on Wednesday 7th October at 10:30am. Register your place on Zoom.

18th November 2020 - The visualisation of data

Data can be more than just numbers; it can be words, images and lines.

Together it can be beautiful.

If a picture paints a thousand words, then what does this mean for data?

Visualizing information can bring data to life and provide greater insight. It allows one to detect unseen patterns as well as convey findings in a more engaging manner.

Join us for this podcast to learn more about:

  • Why the visualisation of data is important
  • Types of charts and when to use
  • Examples
  • Showcasing your data for external audiences
  • Infographics

Plus have your questions answered live by our experts.

This webinar will take place on Wednesday 18th November at 10:30am. Register your place on Zoom.

13 January 2021 - Social Return on Investment (SROI): Prove your worth

You know the positive impact your organisation makes on society, but how can you prove it? Through Social Return on Investment (SROI) you can evidence the true extent of your work.

Whether you’re seeking new funding or simply want to ensure your day to day activities connect to your strategy, SROI can help you understand, manage and quantify the value of your organisation.

There is increasing need to use better ways to measure the social, economic and environmental value that results from your work. The language varies – ‘impact’, ‘returns’, ‘benefit’, ‘value’ – but the questions remain the same.

Whether you are a charity, a commissioner, investors or private business, this webinar will teach you how and why SROI is arguably the most important technique to measure your wider impact.

Join us for this webinar to learn:

  • What SROI is and why it is being asked by funders as a measure of your success
  • How SROI can help your organisation account for the social, economic and environmental value of your activities
  • How you could use SROI to evidence need for the services provided by your organisation to funders and other stakeholders

Plus have your questions answered live by our experts.

This webinar will take place on Wednesday 13 January 2021 at 10:30am. Register your place on Zoom.

Proudly supporting Essex 2020, A Year of Science and Creativity.

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Centre joins South East Digital Skills Partnership

The Business and Local Government Data Research Centre has joined the South East Digital Skills Partnership.

The Partnership has received government funding to help tackle digital skills challenges in the South East, which will help boost the local economy.

Read the story.

Local charities among those awarded innovation vouchers

Two regional charities were amongst the organisations awarded grant-funded data analytics support during the recent round of Data Analytics Innovation Vouchers (DAIVs).

Data Analytics Innovation Vouchers (DAIVs) enable organisations across the UK to benefit from thousands of pounds worth of cutting edge data analytics expertise. From predicting the deterioration of roads to in-depth impact assessment, DAIVs use the power of data to solve real-world challenges faced by businesses, charities and the public sector.

Those successfully awarded DAIVs have the opportunity to work with the Centre's international team of senior research officers to unlock the hidden potential held within data, with projects designed to improve practice and influence policy.

Laura Brookes, Outreach and Publicity Officer for the Centre, said, "The DAIV scheme has never been more popular and we are proud to create more opportunities for organisations to benefit from the support we provide."

Find out more about the DAIVs and how to apply or email BLGDataResearch@essex.ac.uk to book your consultation. 

Bounce back from COVID-19 flash funding round now open

The Business and Local Government Data Research Centre has launched a flash grant funding round enabling organisations across the UK to receive thousands of pounds worth of data analytics support.

From measuring impact to predicting future demand, businesses, charities and the public sector have a unique opportunity to engage with the Centre's senior research officers to bring a project to life. Now more than ever, organisations need to turn data into insight for informed decision making, predict future demand and make full use of the knowledge that data can bring.

As part of the launch of the flash funding round, the Centre is delivering a webinar on how to apply for a Data Analytics Innovation Voucher on Zoom on 10th June 2020.

This webinar is designed to give organisations the essential information required to apply for grant funded data analytics support.

Deadline for grant applications is 3rd July 2020. Please email BLGDataResearch@essex.ac.uk if you have any queries.

The Centre welcomes Dr Chatsiou to the team

Adding to the Business and Local Government Data Research Centre's international team of experts, Dr Chatsiou brings a wealth of experience on natural language processing and programme evaluation, enhancing the Centre's ability to support organisations with their data analytics needs.

Dr Chatsiou’s research focuses on applying innovative models of text mining to address key challenges when analysing textual and other forms of unstructured data including political texts and social media.  A specialist in Natural Language Processing and with a proven track record of enhancing organisations' ability to use data, Dr Chatsiou has supported a range of public sector bodies and charities. She has worked on data analytics projects but embedding a legacy of data sustainability by delivering expert training, enhancing data literacy and analytics capabilities.

Dr Chatsiou said: “I am very excited to have joined the ESRC Business and Local Government Data Research Centre, a world leading centre of expertise in data analytics at the University of Essex. I am especially looking forward to contributing my expertise in natural language processing and data science to help support local businesses and voluntary sector organisations and empowering them to improve their services and data capabilities.”

Having worked in partnership with the Centre for many years, we are thrilled Dr Chatsiou is now a formal member of the team, joining Dr Philip Broniecki, Dr Farhana Liza, Dr Luke Abbs and Husam Quteineh as Senior Research Officers.

Nigel Kirby, Project Manager said "I am delighted to welcome Kakia, who is an enthusiastic and dynamic colleague, and will add immediate and continuing impact, to the Centre and our stakeholders."

Look out for the series of webinars released in 2020 featuring Dr Chatsiou as she provides valuable insight for organisations into how they can maximise their use of their data, the power of effective impact assessment, evaluating services using data and many other topics.

Get in touch
Get in touch
Business and Local Government Data Research Centre Knowledge Gateway University of Essex 
Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, CO4 3SQ
Telephone: +44 (0) 1206 873437