ESRC Business and Local Government Data Research Centre

Part of School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering

This logo consists of a pattern of pink, red, yellow and green dots on the left side, and the words "Business and Local Government Data Research Centre" on the right.

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

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.

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 quantify it? Whether you’re seeking new funding or simply want to ensure your day to day activities connect to your strategy, the Social Return On Investment (SROI) framework can help you understand, manage and quantify the value of your organisation.

SROI is an outcomes-based measurement tool that helps organisations to understand and quantify the social, environmental and economic value they are creating.

There is increasing recognition that we need better ways to account for the social, economic and environmental value that result from our activities. The language varies – ‘impact’, ‘returns’, ‘benefit’, ‘value’ – but the questions around what sort of difference and how much of a difference we are making are the same.

Understanding and managing this broader value is becoming increasingly important for the public, charity and private sectors alike, with funders asking programmes to demonstrate in a measurable way the cost-effectiveness of the programmes they fund.

This is true whether it is civil society organisations working to create value, governments commissioning and investing in activities to create social value, investors seeking to ensure that their investments will make a difference, or private businesses recognising both risk and opportunity in the wider effects of operations.

Developed from traditional cost-benefit analysis and social accounting, SROI is a participative approach that is able to capture in monetised form the value of a wide range of outcomes, whether these already have a financial value or not. An SROI analysis produces a narrative of how an organisation creates and destroys value in the course of making change in the world, and a ratio that states how much social value (in £) is created for every £1 of investment.

Join us for this webinar to learn more about:

  • What the SROI framework is and how you can measure extra-financial value not reflected in conventional financial accounts
  • How to measure the value of the social outcomes using the SROI framework
  • The limitations and benefits of the method
  • Other ways to measure social value and useful resources

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.

The words "Part of Essex 2020" in large multi-coloured letters.
A woman sitting indoors working on a laptop.
Missed an event?

Listen again and catch up on more webinars and inspiring talks that bring data to life.

Find us on Youtube


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