Tagged / impact

NIHR Bulletin


Updated guidelines for recruiting public members onto Trial and Study Steering Committees

NIHR launches Impact Toolkit
NIHR has developed an interactive dashboard that summarises, and signposts to, a range of tools to support research impact planning, delivery and/or assessment. (Will need to register for NIHR Learn if not already registered).

eBulletins and Newsletters

NIHR Funding and support round-up: July 2021

NHS England and NHS Improvement – In Touch


New impact short course
NIHR has launched a new e-learning course, ‘Introduction to impact through the lens of NIHR’.
In this self-paced and short e-learning course, you will get an introduction to what impact is, what it isn’t, and why it’s important to the NIHR. Find out more.

Funding Opportunities

Latest NIHR funding calls

Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award (AI Award)
Competition 3

NIHR Senior Investigators
Call 15

Programme Development Grants
Mental health call

Public Health Research (PHR) Programme
21/523 Image and performance enhancing drugs
21/524 Health impacts of housing-led interventions for homeless people

Your local branch of the NIHR RDS (Research Design Service) is based within the BU Clinical Research Unit (BUCRU) should you need help with your application. We advise on all aspects of developing an application and can review application drafts as well as put them to a mock funding panel (run by RDS South West) known as Project Review Committee, which is a fantastic opportunity for researchers to obtain a critical review of a proposed grant application before this is sent to a funding body.

Contact us as early as possible to benefit fully from the advice

Feel free to call us on 01202 961939 or send us an email.

Research impact at BU: computer modelling to predict effects of human activity on birds; smart digital marketing for tourism and hospitality

A series of posts featuring BU’s impact case studies for REF 2021. (These are edited versions of the final submissions – the full impact case studies will be published online in 2022.)

Using a computer model (MORPH) for environmental decision-making to balance the needs of birds and society

Research area: Conservation Ecology

Staff conducting research: Professor Richard Stillman

Background: The development of BU’s unique computer modelling software, known as MORPH, addressed the need for a robust method of predicting the effects of a diverse range of activities (e.g. housing and port development, shellfishing, recreational pastimes) on legally protected bird species. MORPH creates virtual versions of real ecosystems, including realistic ways in which animals respond to changes in their environment.

BU’s research on diverse bird species globally, conducted with former colleagues at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (Furzebrook/Winfrith), provided the basis for MORPH’s detailed understanding of the behaviour and ecology of coastal and wetland birds. Although it is a single piece of software, MORPH can simulate multiple systems, and, in effect, learns how to mimic different environmental conditions, species behaviour and physiology. This flexibility is key, as it means MORPH can be applied rapidly to a diverse range of systems without any time-consuming changes to its underlying computer code.

It is initially set up for present-day conditions for which the behaviour of birds in the real system is known. Its predictions are then compared to observations to determine whether it represents the system with sufficient accuracy to reliably inform decision-making. The environment within MORPH is then changed to predict how changes in the real world may impact the birds, with the results used to inform decision making. MORPH is a rare example of a model that is able to make such predictions accurately, relying on the fundamental evolutionary principle that both model and real birds will always behave in ways that maximise their chances of surviving and reproducing.

Since 2007, MORPH has been used to model 25 bird species in 22 sites in Australia, USA, Europe and the UK – BU’s Individual Ecology website details all applications of MORPH, funders, publications, species modelled, issues addressed and conservation recommendations. The model is increasingly being used by industry, conservation NGOs and government organisations to improve the cost effectiveness of their work, set sustainable fishing quotas, and understand the impacts of new developments and human activity on the birds.

The impact:

Improving regulation of infrastructure development and plans

  • Independent coastal partnership Solent Forum commissioned BU to measure the potential effects of housing development on the local wintering bird population. MORPH predicted that the construction of 60,000 houses over the next 13 years could potentially increase the mortality of wading birds; as a result, the developers had to offset any negative effects by making contributions to fund conservation per house built, based on a sliding scale according to the number of bedrooms. Between 2014 and 2020, this totalled £3.4 million, which went towards creating Bird Aware Solent, a partnership that aims to raise awareness of protected birds.
  • BU worked with Natural England (NE) to asses the effects of habitat loss and disturbance on wildfowl populations due to new developments. This enabled NE for the first time to predict whether such losses might result in a decline in protected bird populations.
  • US-based conservation organisation Ducks Unlimited commissioned BU to look at the effects of habitat loss and disturbance on black brant geese in California and used the findings as a key piece of evidence for an impact assessment of the environmental effects of the expansion of aquaculture activity in the area.

Enhancing sustainable shellfishery management to allow economic growth while better conserving protected bird species

  • MORPH was used in the Wadden Sea, Netherlands – the world’s largest unbroken system of intertidal sand and mud flats – to help determine whether cockle harvesting could continue in 2020/2021. The decision depended on evidence that the management of the cockle fishery in previous years had been enough to sustain the oystercatcher population – which MORPH was able to confirm.
  • The Marine Stewardship Council has used BU’s research in the management of Welsh cockle fisheries and the Exe Estuary mussel fishery to identify the amount of shellfish needed to sustain birds such as the oystercatcher over winter. This then informs the quota for fishing.

Improving evidence-informed efficiency, resource management and cost-effectiveness of conservation organisations

  • BU has equipped Natural England with models and knowledge to predict in-house the effect of land use change on bird populations, enabling them to conduct a more cost-effective assessment of impacts.
  • UK conservation charity Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust used MORPH to diagnose the environmental causes of the population decline of the Bewick’s Swan, currently listed as ‘Endangered’ in Europe.
  • The British Trust for Ornithology now routinely includes MORPH (or related approaches) as one of its methods in conservation projects.

Digitisation of tourism and hospitality marketing: towards smart ecosytems

Research area: Tourism & Hospitality

Staff conducting research: Professor Dimitrios Buhalis

Background: Professor Buhalis has spent the past 20 years researching how Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) can revolutionise marketing in tourism and hospitality. Since his arrival at BU in 2007 his key focus has been how to use digital technology to engage with the consumer; and how tourism organisations and destinations can develop their competitiveness and improve their profitability by developing smart networks. His research during this period has focused on:

  • The use of the internet (Web 1.0) to enable organisations to communicate their offerings and facilitate eCommerce transactions.
  • The application of social media and Web 2.0 to interact with consumers and engage with stakeholders through two-way dynamic communications. This enables the ‘co-creation’ of experiences with customers, allowing personalisation and contextualisation, and generating additional value and loyalty.
  • The development of Smart Tourism ecosystems, using technology to develop agility, facilitate value co-creation and deliver services in real time. For tourism destinations and governments, this means that they can integrate their production and supply systems, enhancing their competitiveness.
  • For tourism businesses, such as hotels, travel agencies and tour operators, adopting a smart ecosystem can help develop their competitiveness and profitability through interconnectivity and interoperability.

The impact:

Tourism businesses

Individual tourism practitioners and organisations have applied insights from Professor Buhalis’ research to enhance profitability and competitiveness.  His work on co-creation has informed social media strategies for hotels across the world, enhancing their online brand reputation, improving customer engagement and increasing repeat business. These brands include:

  • the world’s largest franchisor of hotels, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts – which collaborated with BU on a number of initiatives;
  • Aliathon Resort, Cyprus – which estimates that Professor Buhalis’ insights have extended the tourist season, increased guest loyalty and enhanced revenue by approximately €4 million per year, 2013-19;
  • Aquis Hotel & Resorts – which attributes an occupancy rate 10% above, and average room rate 8% above the competition to insights gleaned from BU’s research;
  • Omnibees Booking Engine – which has based its development on Professor Buhalis’ research into smart ecosystems, enabling it to achieve the best conversion rate among booking engines.

National governments

Professor Buhalis has worked with more than 100 national governments and tourism bodies to develop e-tourism strategies, strengthen the competitiveness of destinations, and increase tourism revenue. This includes: Visit Britain, the British Hospitality Association, Tourism Australia, the Ministry of Tourism in Jamaica, the African Tourism Leadership Forum, the Ministry of Tourism in Oman and the Agency for Development of Human Resources in Cyprus, a country where he has trained more than 1,000 hotel owners and managers in the creative use of social media.

International organisations

Professor Buhalis has acted as an adviser to the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) since 2006, which has helped him to put technology and digital at the top of the tourism agenda globally.  In 2018 the UNWTO’s World Tourism Day was themed around digital technologies, with the UNWTO stating that Buhalis’ research was “a major feature” in the debate around big data, artificial intelligence and digital platforms, which all form a “central part of the solution to the challenge of marrying continued growth with a more sustainable and responsible tourism sector”.


During the pandemic Professor Buhalis has collaborated with the UNWTO, TravelDailyNews, hotel associations and other media organisations channels to facilitate more than 150 online live sessions and discussion forums, training industry and governments around the world on how to use smart technologies to restart tourism, adopt hygiene protocols and communicate dynamically with stakeholders.


Research impact at BU: developing character animation techniques; assessing economic effect of airport expansion

A series of posts featuring BU’s impact case studies for REF 2021. (These are edited versions of the final submissions – the full impact case studies will be published online in 2022.)

Developing character animation techniques to improve production practice in the animation sector and create economic impact on Humain Ltd

Research area: Computer Animation

Staff conducting research: Dr Shaojun Bian, Professor Lihua You, Professor Jian J. Zhang, Jon Macey

Background: Since 2008, BU researchers have been tackling the problem facing animation studios of producing high-quality virtual characters within a short time scale. BU developed two new techniques to improve skin deformation (the representation of skin and its transformations and movements); was a partner in a European Commission-funded project looking at geometric modelling, image processing and shape reconstruction; and worked with Humain Ltd to develop new techniques of facial blendshapes. The findings of the BU research team comprise:

Facial rigging tools

  1. Hybrid facial rigging tool. Integrates facial blendshapes and bone-driven facial animation to create various facial expressions easily and quickly.
  2. Automatic correspondences for deformation transfer. To tackle the problem of deformation transfer in manually specifying correspondences of facial landmarks, this achieves full automation and avoids manual operations.
  3. Machine learning-based 3D facial expression production. Combines a 3D face morphable model with machine learning to reuse existing datasets for reducing manual work in producing facial animation from a single image.

Skin deformation techniques

  1. Automatic rigging. Automates the process of placing a skeleton in a 3D character model and creates an animation skeleton in a few milliseconds.
  2. Analytical physics-based skin deformation. Obtains the first analytical solution to physics-based skin deformations to create the animation of a horse model with 10,128 vertices at 205 frames per second.

Character modelling methods

  1. Fast character modelling with sketch-based partial differential equation (PDE) surfaces. Enables a simple, easy-to-use, efficient, and sketch-based character modelling tool for fast creation of detailed character models.
  2. Character model creation with ordinary differential equation (ODE) based C2 continuous surfaces. Avoids tedious and time-consuming manual operations of existing techniques in stitching two separate patches together to achieve the required continuities, significantly reduce data size, and provide more flexible and powerful shape manipulation handles.

The impact:

Before developing the new techniques, getting a 3D virtual character into production took anything from a few days to a few months. The new techniques enabled Humain Ltd. to reduce the time frame for creating models with realistic facial expressions from 30 days to minutes, resulting in significant time and cost savings.

As well as saving time, BU’s new techniques helped make the company’s workload more streamlined and efficient. Producing high-quality 3D virtual character requires experts, modellers and animators from different disciplines to work together, and involves heavy and time-consuming manual operations in the production process. The new methods have been integrated into the company’s product offerings, transformed its facial development pipeline from a labour-intensive process by highly specialised artists to a simple command line interface everyone in the company can run.

Transforming Humain Ltd.’s ways of working changed its external reputation – the techniques developed by BU researchers at the company enabled them to work with world-leading organisations in the technology and entertainment industry, such as Activision and Google. They also contributed to the successful delivery of a £500,000 project to Microsoft and served as the basis for a successful application to the Audience of the Future Immersive Technology Investment Accelerator in 2019. Over the past three years, the company has worked on 16 different projects, generating revenue of more than £1 million.

Using economic modelling to inform UK airport expansion

Research areas: Economics and Econometrics

Staff conducting research: Professor Adam Blake, Dr Neelu Seetaram

Background: Economic impact research has evolved since the 1970s with the use of input-output models, although these typically estimated static economic impacts are limited in their applicability. Building on these earlier models, Professor Blake was one of the first to introduce computable general equilibrium models to tourism economics. More recent research at BU, in which Blake was instrumental, extended and enhanced economic impact modelling in the following ways:

  • The inclusion of forward-looking dynamics in economic impact modelling of tourism, which takes techniques for applied dynamic economic models used in other contexts and adapts them for tourism impact modelling. The dynamic nature of these models allows the estimation of the economic impact that tourism has over time, while their forward-looking nature allows for the estimation of investment and other effects that will come about because of future demand.
  • The inclusion of uncertainty and stochastic random effects in dynamic economic models of tourism allows the impacts of investment to be assessed based on uncertain anticipation about future tourism demand by allowing different growth paths to be modelled, giving the ability to estimate the effects of this uncertainty as well as of changes in the potential future growth paths.
  • Demonstrating the importance of segmentation in econometric modelling of tourism demand, both in terms of tourists’ purpose of visit and country of origin and showing that models that do not include these effects are systematically biased.

The impact:

BU research was instrumental in the UK government’s 2018 decision to progress with building a third runway at Heathrow. The Airports Commission funded Professor Blake and Dr Seetaram to investigate the economic effects of various forms of future airport expansion in the UK. Building on Professor Blake’s previous use of economic modelling by purpose of visit and nationality, they constructed and used an econometric model of tourism demand into and out of the UK, with different estimations of elasticities based on mode of transport and destination (for UK outbound) or origin (for UK inbound). These estimates were then used to construct and test a spatial dynamic computable general equilibrium of the UK economy. The spatial element contained different regions of the UK, with the South East and the local areas around both Heathrow and Gatwick airports included as separate regions. The dynamic element followed the model methodology developed by Professor Blake.

The results from BU’s modelling formed part of the evidence base that led to the Airport Commission deciding to support a new runway at Heathrow instead of expansion of Gatwick or extension of the current Heathrow Northern runway. In June 2018, based on this recommendation, the government formally approved plans for the new runway at Heathrow. In the final announcement of this approval, the Secretary of State for Transport gave the wider economic benefits as one of the key benefits of the Heathrow expansion

Overall, BU’s development of a novel, robust economic modelling technique provided the Airports Commission and the UK government with a more accurate and detailed analysis of the airport expansion options than could otherwise have been obtained. This led to a much greater evidence base for the decision over airport expansion, and to more confidence within government about the option to be chosen. The modelling approach that was developed has expanded the capability of economic impact modelling to analyse the impact of proposed major investment projects in the future.

Research impact at BU: seeing Stonehenge in a new light; developing elite athletes

A series of posts featuring BU’s impact case studies for REF 2021. (These are edited versions of the final submissions – the full impact case studies will be published online in 2022.)

Reframing Stonehenge: improving the visitor experience and
mental wellbeing, bringing economic benefit to the heritage
sector, and preserving the landscape

Research areas: Archaeology,
Archaeological Sciences, Nursing Science

Staff conducting research: Professor Timothy Darvill, Professor Kate
Welham, Dr Vanessa Heaslip

Background: Despite Stonehenge’s status as the world’s best-known prehistoric monument, academic understanding of the site, as well as its presentation to the public, was fraught with problems and gaps in the early 2000s. BU has conducted five interconnected projects in the past 20 years to improve this situation:

  • Stonehenge World Heritage Site Archaeological Research Framework (SRF) – guided research in the Stonehenge landscape since its publication in 2005 and  provides a greater understanding of the landscape surrounding Stonehenge and the sequence of construction.
  • Strumble-Preseli Ancient Communities and Environment Study (SPACES)/Stones of Stonehenge Project (SoS) – located and contextualised the primary source of Stonehenge’s famous bluestones at sites in south Wales. SPACES also suggested the stones may originally have been associated with the perceived healing power of local waters and brought to Stonehenge for that reason.
  • Stonehenge Riverside Project (SRP) – investigated the surrounding monumental landscape, filling important gaps in knowledge about a processional route through the site, making the landmark discovery of the ‘Bluestonehenge’ stone circle, and recognising settlement activity and Neolithic houses at Durrington.
  • Human Henge – building on the SPACES findings around perceived healing properties, examined whether a creative exploration of historic landscape could improve people’s mental health and wellbeing.

The impact:

Enhancing the visitor experience 

BU’s research provided: information for the Wessex Timeline – a new infographic running the length of the visitor centre, presenting the new chronology; digital plans for building full-size replicas of Neolithic houses; text, images, video, models, CGI reconstructions and physical artefacts for the exhibitions; updated content for the official website, guidebook, map, audio-tour, display cases and information panels.

An independent evaluation in 2014 confirmed that 70% of 300 visitors surveyed about the new content strongly agreed they better understood the chronology, context, building and significance of Stonehenge. The survey also indicated that after visiting the new centre, 68% of respondents strongly agreed they would like to explore the wider Stonehenge landscape.

After the opening of the new centre, visitor numbers immediately increased by 8% the following year (2014), becoming the UK’s third most visited paid-for tourist attraction. Numbers continue to rise, peaking at more than 1.6 million in 2019.

Improving mental wellbeing

Professor Darvill and Dr Heaslip worked with heritage NGOs and mental health charities to create ‘Human Henge’, a 10-week programme of activities taking place both within the stone circle and the wider landscape to improve mental wellbeing. It took place between 2016-18 and involved a group of 35 local participants with chronic mental health problems. A survey, based on the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale, demonstrated that 79.3% of the participants reported a positive impact on their mental health, which increased throughout the programme and continued a year later. Many credited the programme with increasing their optimism and confidence, inner strength and improving social interaction, and specifically cited feelings of connection with ancestors who had lived at the site, reconnecting with their community and engaging with the research.

Preserving the landscape for the future

BU’s research continues to feed into the future management and preservation of the Stonehenge landscape, forming a core component of the latest Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites World Heritage Site Management Plan. Professor Darvill also sits on the A303 Scientific Committee, formed in 2017 to provide specialist advice to the A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down Heritage Monitoring and Advisory Group. BU researchers’ understanding of the extent and distribution of archaeological features in the wider landscape has thus been instrumental in negotiations with Highways England on the course of the planned tunnel and rerouting of the road.

The development of athletic talent: driving policy change in national sporting organisations

Research area: Sport sciences

Staff conducting research: Professor Tim Rees

Background: The initial driver for the
research was UK Sport’s desire to generate a better understanding of what underpins the development of world-class sporting talent (i.e. gold medal winners). Professor Rees and collaborators at Bangor University, the University of Kaiserslautern, Germany, the University of Queensland, Australia, Queen’s University, Canada and University College London provided – for the first time – an authoritative and comprehensive review of the literature. The Great British Medallists Project serves as a key point of reference for researchers, practitioners and policymakers, as well as a guide for translating that knowledge into action. To date, it has been downloaded more than 46,000 times and has become the gold standard review.

Professor Rees carried out further research, examining the distinctions between super-elite athletes who have won multiple Olympic and World Championship gold medals and those of elite athletes who had not won any. Overall, the results showed the importance of early developmental experiences in the production of super-elite athletes, demonstrating the necessity of psychological screening.

Professor Rees’ research has helped develop an understanding as to how talented cricket players can successfully transition from the county academies and on through U17s and U19s into the Test side. He highlighted the importance of group memberships and social identity for coping with such transitions, as well as demonstrating that social group memberships also enhance resilience in the face of negative performance feedback. The findings suggest the importance of assessing players’ group memberships and monitoring ‘at-risk’ players who report belonging to relatively few pre-transition groups. They also highlight that groups are not just a context but  a critical psychological resource for athletes.

Professor Rees’ close working relationships with UK Sport, the English Cricket Board and England Rugby has allowed him to share his research at the very highest level of a number of sports, via senior management groups, performance directors, and practitioners. Publication of the research in open access format has also allowed it to reach physicians, sports medicine specialists, physiotherapists, exercise physiologists, team doctors and trainers alike, helping to bridge the gap between science and practice.

The impact:

UK Sport

Research by Professor Rees and collaborators was used in strategic planning by UK Sport for the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, and continues to be used. Professor Rees’ findings have also been used to reshape UK Sport’s talent development pathway by making psychological profiling of athletes relatively routine and upgrading the talent data capture processes of governing bodies of sports to ensure that those most likely to become ‘super-elite’ are identified earlier.

England & Wales Cricket Board and Lawn Tennis Association

The findings of Rees’ research into the importance of group memberships and social identity has significantly influenced national junior player development programmes in both cricket and tennis. The England and Wales Cricket Board’s England Development Programme has focused on the development of training environments that provide higher levels of peer and social support, while also enabling individuals to remain connected to wider social groups at home.

The Lawn Tennis Association’s (LTA) player development strategy has also been informed by the same research, with equal emphasis placed on personal, social and academic development as well as tennis skills and game style. Its National Academies, for those aged 13-18, ensure young players are integrated into the wider school and local community and maintain contact with family and friends at home.

Overall, the research has impacted on the journeys into and through talent development programmes of more than 2,000 high potential young athletes.

England Rugby

As a result of Professor Rees’ emphasis on the importance of developmental experiences and psychological screening of young athletes, England Rugby now routinely engages in psychological profiling and monitors player dropout and de-selection for possible re-entry of players into England Rugby’s talent system. The continued influence of this work led to the formation of a board to oversee further development of the ideas.

Research impact at BU: the benefits of emotional processing & advising government and business on trade post-Brexit

A series of posts featuring BU’s impact case studies for REF 2021. (These are edited versions of the final submissions – the full impact case studies will be published online in 2022.)

Emotional processing and its impact on mental and physical health

Research areas: Clinical Psychology, Health Care Statistics & Epidemiology

Staff conducting research: Professor Roger Baker, Professor Peter Thomas, Dr Sarah Thomas

Background: In the late 1970s, Professor Baker began to see a connection between physical symptoms and the way earlier stressful events were emotionally processed. Emotional processing is a type of natural healing that protects people from emotional distress. However, there are some styles of emotional processing that inhibit successful processing and which could contribute to psychological disorders or psychogenic conditions, i.e. physical illnesses which have a psychological cause.

Together with a project team and clinicians, Professor Baker began the development of the Emotional Processing Scale (EPS) in 2000. Research findings indicated that nearly every psychological disorder they studied revealed significant difficulties with emotional processing. In 2012, the team collaborated with 70 research groups globally to develop a wide range of cultural, diagnostic and healthy norms. The final EPS consisted of 25 questions, covering five different dimensions, and was published in 2015.

Emotional processing offers an alternative approach to diagnoses of psychiatric illnesses. Problematic ways of emotional processing are implicated in nearly every type of clinical condition, from psychological disorders to medical conditions with or without organic pathology. The development of EPS has enabled clinicians to identify patients for therapy and measure change in significant emotional dimensions during therapy. It has also led directly to the development of emotion-based therapies in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), tinnitus and psychogenic epilepsy.

The impact:

Patient benefits in the UK

The EPS is used as a tool to diagnose and treat people with a variety of physical, behavioural and emotional pathologies. It has been employed by clinicians and in teaching, with examples including:

  • a consultant clinical neuropsychologist at Dorset HealthCare University Foundation Trust;
  • a psychologist working with the Dorset Youth Offending Team;
  • Sheffield’s Specialist Neurology Psychotherapy Service, for the treatment of patients with non-epileptic seizures; and
  • the Open University, which invited Professor Baker to contribute material on panic attacks – based on his Emotional Processign Model – for their new MSc in Psychology. The material has also been re-purposed for its OpenLearn Platform, where it has had more than 30,000 unique visits since March 2019.

Healthcare guidelines and policy

The British Psychological Society (BPS) awarded the EPS a 4/4* (Excellent) evaluation, describing it as “spearheading a revolution in thinking to overcome the limitations imposed by the ‘medical model’… [it] makes it possible to explore more fully the contributory role of key emotional factors in psychopathology and psychological therapy.” The Emotional Processing Scale now has BPS Registered Test status, which provides clinicians with reassurance that it meets the necessary quality standards.

A global resource

The EPS has been translated into 19 languages and been used by therapists, psychologists and teachers in France, Poland and Italy, while Professor Baker’s three self-help books – Emotional processing: healing through feelingUnderstanding trauma: how to overcome post traumatic stress and Understanding panic attacks and overcoming fear – have sold more than 90,000 copies worldwide in total. They have been translated into French, German, Polish and Czech and continue to receive positive reviews, including: “Best book ever if you suffer from panic attacks” and “My doctor told me to buy this book. It certainly worked for me.”

Supporting trade policy: Brexit and beyond

Research area: Economics

Staff conducting research: Professor Sangeeta Khorana

Background: From 2008, Professor Khorana took the lead in a series of studies on trade agreements, which demonstrated how data and techniques can support trade negotiations. In 2015-17, she led research on the European Commission’s ‘Public Procurement Initiative’ project, developing a methodology to use contracts data for negotiating free trade agreements with third countries, and devising a template that uses statistical tools to analyse negotiating positions.

As co-investigator for the European Commission’s ‘Europe for Citizens’ programme in 2015, Professor Khorana carried out research on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). This led to her co-editing a book for EU member states to enable them to understand the implications of TTIP and how an agreement could affect the future of global economic governance.

After the UK’s EU referendum in 2016, Professor Khorana’s research focus shifted to an examination of the likely economic impact of Brexit. Her expertise in this area fed into the Handbook on the EU and International Tradeused as a learning resource and reference guide – as well as an edited book on Brexit, produced in conjunction with the Commonwealth Secretariat. More specifically, she has utilised her computable general equilibrium techniques, which combine economic theory with real economic data to compute the impacts of policies or shocks in the economy, to conduct a series of economic impact assessments on Brexit.

The impact:

The Department for International Trade (DIT)

The DIT approached Professor Khorana to seek her expertise on trade negotiations post-Brexit. Her subsequent involvement included:

  •  contributing directly to the ‘Market Access’ project, an ongoing initiative at the DIT, to support UK trade negotiators in trade talks with the USA and Australia;
  • membership of the Expert Advisory group on Public Procurement and Expert Advisory member of the Department of International Development’s Trade and Development group;
  • advising DIT officials on which sectors the UK could target for greater market access in a trade deal with the USA and Australia.

Welsh Assembly

The Welsh Assembly commissioned Professor Khorana and Welsh Assembly Adviser at Aberystwyth, Professor Nicholas Perdikis, to report on the economic implications for Wales of the UK’s departure from the EU. The 2017 study’s findings – that the Welsh economy would suffer under all scenarios – informed Senedd Cymru’s (the Welsh Parliament) decision to update its policy, stating that Wales “must maintain full and unfettered access to the Single Market” post-Brexit. This became the official policy position adopted by the Welsh Government at Westminster from 2018-2020.

Professor Khorana also gave oral evidence to the UK government’s Welsh Affairs Committee in September 2020, providing an updated assessment on Wales’ preparedness to leave the EU on 1 January 2021. The Welsh Parliament acknowledged Professor Khorana’s contribution and support in making a decision on future trading with the EU, noting that the 2017 report “systematically influenced” its analysis of the impacts of post-Brexit UK-EU trade agreements on the Welsh economy.

Scotch Whisky Association (SWA)

Between May and November 2018 Professor Khorana researched the impact of Brexit on Scotch Whisky exports, and utilised CGE modelling techniques to examine potential scenarios. The findings presented loss of market access for all Scotch whisky producers, and especially those making the more expensive single malt. The SWA used Professor Khorana’s estimates of potential costs of the different scenarios in its Position paper, aimed at defending the industry’s interests at Westminster, and recognised that it enabled it to prepare for the different Brexit scenarios and associated costs.

Dorset business sector

Professor Khorana also led briefings for the Dorset Engineering and Manufacturing Cluster, advising more than 70 local businesses on the effects of Brexit on exports and their workforce. These sessions enabled members of the Cluster to understand how to prepare to mitigate the effects of various scenarios on the UK’s departure from the EU.

EVENT: Returning to Sport Sustainably Post-Covid

The Sport and Physical Activity Research Centre (SPARC) invites you to join us at our lunchtime seminar, “Returning to Sport Sustainably Post-Covid”. The seminar is taking place on Wednesday 7 July, between midday and 1.30pm.

The event, which is being held in conjunction with BASIS (the British Association for Sustainable Sport), aims to bring together practitioners and academics working in sport & sustainability, to discuss key issues and best practice as we emerge from lockdown.

The seminar is an excellent opportunity for BU staff to engage with those working in industry, in one of BU’s Strategic Investment Areas – Sustainability.


12.00   Introduction: Sport and Sustainability Research – Raf Nicholson (Bournemouth University)

12.10   Building Back Better: The BASIS White Paper – Russell Seymour (CEO of BASIS)

12.25   Strategies to Ensure the Sustainability of Women’s Sport – Beth Clarkson (University of Portsmouth) and Keith Parry (Bournemouth University)

12.40   Returning to Action – Leigh Thompson (Head of Policy, Sport and Recreation Alliance)

12.55   Roundtable Discussion: Returning to Sport Sustainably Post-Covid


The Zoom link for the seminar is here: https://bournemouth-ac-uk.zoom.us/j/89306375276?pwd=SWJSay80QTl3V256eWk2N3JhMUtmUT09


For any queries, contact Dr Raf Nicholson – rnicholson@bournemouth.ac.uk

RKEDF training: impact and funding bids

Don’t forget to book your place on the RKEDF online training session Impact and Funding Bids on Thursday 17 June 13:00-14:00! Although the UKRI removed the Pathways to Impact sections of grant applications last year, they expect impact to be embedded within bids and this session will help you understand how to write about impact.

Although the session will include a brief look at definitions of impact, it is advised that you watch the 10-minute introduction to impact video on Brightspace beforehand to get the most out of the training.

Booking: Please email OD@bournemouth.ac.uk with evidence of approval from your Head of Department or Deputy Head of Department. You can see all the Organisational Development and Research Knowledge Development Framework (RKEDF) events in one place on the handy calendar of events.

Research impact at BU: stories of older LGBT people change attitudes & the treatment of long-term conditions with electrical stimulation

A series of posts featuring BU’s impact case studies for REF 2021. (These are edited versions of the final submissions – the full impact case studies will be published online in 2022.)

Changing hearts and minds: how the stories of older LGBT people are changing attitudes, education and care


Research areas: Performative Social Science & Social Care

Staff conducting research: Dr Kip Jones, Professor Lee-Ann Fenge, Dr Rosie Read, Dr Marilyn Cash

Background: In ‘The Gay and Grey’ and ‘The Gay and Pleasant Land’ projects funded by the National Lottery and ESRC respectively, Dr Jones and his team explored the experiences of older LGBT people. They discovered common themes of identity issues, isolation and exclusion and, in particular, a lack of participation from rural residents and limited understanding of participants’ life stories.

Working with an advisory group of older gay people and service providers, BU researchers looked at how older gay men and lesbians in rural areas interacted with their communities, while considering socio-economic and cultural effects and differing attitudes towards sexuality and ageing. Their findings showed: a lifelong impact on gay men who grew up when homosexuality was illegal (up to 1967); the struggle to be accepted in rural communities by many older LGBT people; difficulties negotiating with service providers; fear and loneliness; and the prevalent risk of suicide among older gay men.

Based on these insights, Dr Jones wrote and produced a short film, RUFUS STONE, which tells the story of two young boys’ experience of anger and rejection from a rural 1950s community when they develop feeling for each other. The film sees the two reunited 50 years later, although one character has never revealed his sexuality and ultimately takes his own life. As well as the film, Professor Fenge collaborated with a group of older LGBT people to produce a card deck called ‘Methods to Diversity’ for care agencies and service providers. the cards detail activities and exercises to prompt staff to think about inclusivity and the diversity of the ageing population.

The impact: 

Changing attitudes

RUFUS STONE was screened around the world, attracting attention for both its style and subject matter. It won international accolades, including an award for Best LGBT Film at Rhode Island International Film Festival 2013, and was also featured in the New York Times. As well as prompting discussion around sexuality and marginalisation, the film demonstrably changed attitudes: evidenced by student-teachers in Kazakhstan planning to screen it to pupils to help them “understand… that some existing values are remnants of the older generation”.

The film was also shared online in 2016 and, by December 2020, had been viewed more than 17,800 times in 73 countries.

Educating future generations

Several universities in the UK and abroad use RUFUS STONE in their teaching, including: the University of Manchester, which features it in an undergraduate sociology module; Brighton University, which describes it as ‘inspirational’; Istanbul Yeni Yuzyil University, which has added it to its syllabus at the Faculty of Fine Arts; and the School of Communication and Media Studies in Lisbon.

Transforming frontline care

Hampshire County Council has used the film and the card deck since 2014 in training sessions with emergency services, residential care staff among others, instigating “changes in attitudes and awareness amongst council staff”. It adds that the resources indirectly inspired the county’s first Gay Pride.

The Help and Care UK charity used the film and card deck with its ‘wayfinder’ staff, who signposted older people to information and services. Watching RUFUS STONE challenged their attitudes and perceptions around homosexuality and led to greater awareness. In a 2016 wayfinders briefing document, they included their support for “freedom from discrimination” on the grounds of sexuality.

The Alzheimer’s Society has used the film since 2013 to improve its local and regional teams’ understanding of LGBT issues: “There is no question [it] was a catalyst for change. It was… raw and real so made us think outside the box”.

How our electrical stimulation devices have improved long-term medical conditions

Research areas: Clinical Engineering, Orthopaedics, Design Engineering & Computing

Staff conducting research: Professor Ian Swain, Dr Jon Cobb, Tom Wainwright, Professor Robert Middleton, Professor Paul Taylor, Choukri Mecheraoui

Background: Electrical stimulation is a method of controlling muscles using an external device, following neurological disease such as stroke or musculoskeletal problems. When used to provide a specific function, such as walking or hand grasp, it is known as functional electrical stimulation (FES). The results of Professor Swain’s first ever randomised controlled clinical trial of an ES device to rehabilitate patients with dropped foot after a stroke demonstrated significant advantages over traditional physiotherapy. In addition to providing support and immediate improvement, the device means people receive therapy as they walk, improving walking and quality of life.

Since 2006, Professor Swain has steered a collaboration between BU, Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust and Odstock Medical Limited (BU-SFT-OML), after taking the lead in patenting the first Odstock Dropped Foot Stimulator and helping establish OML. The clinical service has since expanded to include the treatment of people with multiple sclerosis (MS), spinal cord injury and Parkinson’s disease.

Clinical trials supervised by Professors Swain and Taylor showed that 43% of participants who had suffered a stroke improved their walking speed, while people with MS also demonstrated a highly significant improvement. Recent findings showed that such use of ES was the most effective assistive technology treatment, and that it is possible to use surface electrodes to restore useful hand function to people with tetraplegia.

Professor Swain’s move to BU’s Orthopaedic Research Institute (ORI) to work with Wainwright and Professor Middleton has enabled techniques developed for people with neurological problems to be applied to those with orthopaedic problems. Combining this expertise has led to the development of new stimulators and training courses.

The impact:

Health benefits

The findings from the BU-SFT-OML partnership have helped develop the National Clinical FES Centre in Salisbury, the largest clinical service in the world. As of February 2020, more than 7,700 people have been treated, primarily for walking problems, although the service is expanding to treat upper limb weakness, facial problems such as Bell’s Palsy, and constipation.

The FES devices developed with BU research input have radically improved people’s lives, increasing their functional ability and their participation in society.

Further FES centres, using equipment from BU-SFT-OML, have been established in the West Midlands, London and Sheffield, treating more than 2,600 patients in total.

Policy impacts

In 2016, NICE focused on the PACE device system, developed by BU-SFT-OML, in one of its Medical Innovation Bulletins. Professor Swain also contributed to the development of new NICE guidelines on the use of electrical stimulation in non-neurological long-term conditions.

Since 2014, OML has also trained more than 1,000 staff in total in the UK and abroad on how to implement the devices and treatments developed with BU for people with both lower and upper limb restrictions.

Research impact at BU: the effects of terrorism on tourism & the benefits of digital reading

A series of posts featuring BU’s impact case studies for REF 2021. (These are edited versions of the final submissions – the full impact case studies will be published online in 2022.)

Understanding and helping to minimise the effects of terrorism on tourism destinations

Research areas: Quantitative Finance, Tourism Management, Retail Management, Quantitative Research Design and Analysis

Staff conducting research: Dr Anna Hillingdon, Professor John Fletcher, Professor Stephen Page, Dr John Beavis, Dr Gregory Kapuscinski

Background: Associate Professor Hillingdon is a leading expert in the area of terrorism and its impacts on tourists and tourism destinations. Her work, funded by both the World Bank and the United Nations World Trade Organisation, has offered a number of key insights:

  • Analysis of international tourism arrivals across the USA, Bali, Spain, UK and India showed that terrorist attacks seem to have a larger effect in developing countries than in large European capitals. Where there is a greater dependence on tourism in GDP terms, it is important to restore tourist confidence through efficient and effective post-crisis communication.
  • Demonstrating infrastructure which can quickly restore safety and order can help restore tourist confidence more quickly.
  • International incidents including terrorism do not necessarily have a long-lasting economic impact on tourism.
  • The willingness to travel to a destination after a terrorist attack differs according to personalities.
  • BU researchers conducted an analysis of 250 case study ‘hybrid threats’ (those which combine conventional military aggression with non-conventional means such as cyber-attacks, espionage and terrorism) and found a key area of threat is ‘economic leverage’. They found governments needed to take measures to counter their susceptibility to this threat by building strong, adaptive infrastructures.

The impact:

Enabling better communication for travellers after terrorist attacks

With global online travel company Travelzoo, Dr Hillingdon worked on the design and analysis of a survey of 6,000 consumers worldwide to investigate consumer perception of safety and security on holiday. Combined with her previous findings about tourists’ risk perceptions, this informed a major media campaign in 2015-2017. In more than 100 interviews with national and international media, Dr Hillingdon conveyed that, while terrorist attacks might contribute to a decline in tourism in a specific region, demand would simply go elsewhere. The research was also published in the White Paper, “State of Play: the Impact of Geopolitical Events on International Tourism in 2017”, which concluded the tourism industry and governments should unite to provide clearer information on the safety and security of tourism destinations. In 2017, the UK Foreign Office announced the removal of the terrorism threat level descriptors used at the time, to be replaced with more information about the predictability, context and mitigation of any threat.

Encouraging countries to invest in tourism after terrorist attacks

Dr Hillingdon worked with the World Bank in 2018 to investigate the effects of terrorism on tourist development and growth in Central Asia. As a result of data collected from a survey of tour operators, as well as her own comparative research on the actions governments can take to mitigate the impact of terrorist activities on their tourism sectors, Dr Hillingdon was able to provide evidence which led to a full risk analysis. The project concluded the impact on tourism of specific terrorist attacks was likely to be negligible unless further attacks took place. The tourist sector in Central Asia was encouraged to continue its development, and it was noted this would reduce the likelihood of future attacks as it would decrease the poverty that makes countries like Tajikstan an easy recruitment target for groups such as ISIS.

Enhancing the UK government’s and NATO’s understanding of hybrid threats

Dr Hillingdon contributed to a major NATO research project aimed at deepening understanding of so-called hybrid threats and exploring how to assess them. This work, together with her focus on the need for a strong, resilient economic infrastructure, fed into a handbook on the most effective ways to counter hybrid warfare, now in use by the UK and 13 other governments worldwide.

Reading on Screen: enhancing the benefits of reading through engaging with digital technologies

Research areas: English, New Media, Communication, Literature

Staff conducting research: Professor Bronwen Thomas, Dr Julia Round


Researchers at BU have challenged the negative perceptions around digital reading, providing insights into how and why people read on digital platforms. This has led to the development of innovative methods which capture how technology has enriched reading, enabling new social and cultural benefits.

The research was prompted by Thomas’s early work on fanfiction – a form of narrative which has exploded in popularity on the internet, and which enables fans to create their own stories about characters or plots. Thomas applied theories and methods developed by media and cultural studies scholars, revealing how fanfiction challenged boundaries between authors and readers, creation and interpretation. She also extended this approach to the study of online literary communities, using a combination of interviews and analysis to show a thriving, productive virtual culture.

An AHRC-funded project in 2012 investigated how people read online, as well as the insights and opportunities digital platforms provide for education and the creative industries. Some of the findings were that a preference for printed or e-books depended on genre, and that posting creative work in online forums boosted confidence.

The AHRC Research Network Award (2013-2015) brought together 29 academics and consultants from multiple disciplines to review existing scholarly models for researching reading practice. From this, the network developed innovative techniques adapted to analysing digital reading and prioritising engagement with readers both on- and offline. Building on the findings from the network, BU analysed activities in literature forums, detecting behavioural patterns to understand how users interacted with each other. They found that groups connect users with shared interests, allowing them to shape discussions themselves, and that moderators play a crucial role in shaping group identities and maintaining community bonds. Collectively, this work demonstrated how digital platforms have altered yet enriched reading.

The impact:

In 2017/18 Thomas established the Reading on Screen project, with the University of Brighton, the Reading Agency and DigiTales, a participatory media company. Readers from a diverse range of backgrounds aged 18-87 created digital stories capturing their experiences of reading in the digital age. The project demonstrated how engagement with the digital, far from being confined to younger generations, is in fact also delivering extensive benefits for the older population. It also highlighted how both digital and print reading practices and preferences are shaped by local cultures and environments but that these can change through life experiences and intergenerational interactions. The project achieved the following impacts.

Policy change

Thomas worked closely with the ‘Axe the Reading Tax’ campaign led by the Publishers Association, with the Book Trust and the National Literacy, to develop a new campaign strategy based on highlighting how the tax affects the most vulnerable. The Chancellor announced that VAT on digital publications would be removed from December 2020, although it was ultimately removed earlier, on 1 May 2020.

Benefits to organisations and charities

The Reading Agency delivers a range of programmes to more than 1.4 million people a year and applied the insights from BU’s research – particularly how and why people read on digital devices – to their own work. DigiTales runs digital storytelling workshops with young people, refugees, and the homeless. After working on the Reading on Screen project, they adapted their facilitator training and workshop model to reflect the requirements of working alongside academics with specific research questions in mind. The project also directly led to the organisation working with other universities and provided traineeships for two participants.

Enriching lives

For the participants who created the Reading on Screen stories, finding their voice was a transformative experience. An unforeseen impact is the beneficial effect workshops have on participants with complex social/health issues in terms of social inclusion and emotional resilience. They had no prior experience of using digital technologies in creative contexts and described how the project increased their feelings self-worth and achievement, with some developing resilience and others enjoying increased social interaction.

Research impact at BU: identifying malnutrition risk in older people & enhancing recovery after surgery

Celebrating BU’s impact case studies for REF 2021

New tools to identify older people at risk of malnutrition and improve their nutritional care

Research areas: Nutrition, Food Science, Health & Social Care

Staff conducting research: Professor Jane Murphy, Dr Joanne Holmes, Cindy Brooks, Dr Nirmal Aryal


Malnutrition affects 1,300,000 (or 1 in 10) older adults living in the community, with far-reaching health consequences, an increased need for healthcare and higher rates of mortality. Research undertaken by Professor Murphy demonstrated that one of the key priorities for research into malnutrition and nutrition screening was the need for novel practical approaches to screening and tools that would allow for early intervention to prevent malnutrition. It also identified that limited training and a high turnover of staff in community teams created significant challenges in using the existing leading tool, the Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool (MUST).

As well as identifying new ways of screening, Professor Murphy developed new interventions to reduce the risk of malnutrition in vulnerable groups, such as people with dementia (PwD), who are particularly at risk due to reduced appetite, difficulties associated with eating, and swallowing problems. A two-year, BU-led research project deployed innovative wearable technology for PwD in care homes to measure levels of physical activity, sleep patterns and energy expenditure, combined with information about their energy intake and nutritional status. It found that needs varied enormously between individuals, demonstrating the importance of person-centred care when considering how to support PwD to eat and drink well.

The impact:

BU researchers worked with the Patients Association to help test and refine the latter’s Nutrition Checklist, which has since been downloaded more than  2,000 times.  Professor Murphy wrote guidelines for using the checklist during the Covid-19 pandemic, and councils and NHS Trusts across the UK have been using it to screen their vulnerable populations. As the checklist was designed to be used by patients and carers, as well as professionals, it became a vital tool for diagnosing malnutrition in the community during this period.

Eat Well Age Well, a national project tackling malnutrition in older people living at home in Scotland also incorporated the checklist into its training and guidelines. More than 500 staff and volunteers were trained and nearly 700 older people screened by December 2020. Case studies included a 91-year-old and a 74-year-old who both gained weight after being given dietary advice after screening.

Key aspects of BU research were embedded in the National Dementia Training Standards Framework (2018), directly informing essential knowledge and skills on nutrition and hydration across nine of the 14 subjects for food and nutrition.

Professor’s Murphy’s research led to the development of a training toolkit to deliver person-centred nutritional care for PwD, which has been incorporated into guidance on websites including Dementia UK. Over 1,700 known recipients of the downloaded resources (including nurses and allied health professionals, hospital and care home staff from the UK and overseas) have reported benefits and action to reconfigure nutritional care.

Building on the success of the toolkit for the care workforce, 4,000 hard copies of a guide for family carers of PwD were distributed nationally. A survey of carers who used the guide found positive changes to PwD’s appetite and fluid intake, with feedback demonstrating that carers have been empowered to make changes to support their relatives.

Reducing costs and improving patient outcomes through Enhanced Recovery After Surgery approaches in orthopaedics

Research areas: Orthopaedics, Physiotherapy

Staff conducting research: Professor Robert Middleton, Associate Professor Tom Wainwright, Louise Burgess, Tikki Immins


In 2010, Professor Middleton and Associate Professor Wainwright published the results of the first UK study to implement Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) within orthopaedics. The study followed 2,391 consecutive hip and knee joint replacement patients at the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospital, where they found high levels of staff and patient satisfaction, along with good clinical outcomes, following the implementation of ERAS. The average length of stay (LOS) decreased from 7.8 days to 4.1 days and there was no increase in the rate of complications or readmissions. Wainwright and Middleton presented the first data to assess ERAS in much older people and found patients aged 85 years+ went home four days earlier after hip replacement compared to case-matched patients elsewhere in the UK.

The BU researchers recommended the implementation of ERAS within orthopaedics at other hospitals, stating that major economic and capacity savings could be realised at the same time as improving key aspects of patient care. They conducted the first systematic review examining patient experience of ERAS in hip and knee replacements and the research confirmed that patient satisfaction was high and not adversely affected by ERAS.

They have also sought to optimise elements of the pathway known to directly affect patient experience, such as pre-operative education. BU research was the first to demonstrate that for patients this is most important, and showed that those undergoing knee replacement, who were considered at high risk of an extended LOS, and who attended an education class prior to surgery, stayed, on average, 2.58 days less in hospital

In 2015, BU established the Orthopaedic Research Institute to advance research in orthopaedic surgery: it has since expanded to include advocating ERAS for fractured neck of femur, ankle replacement surgery, shoulder replacement surgery and the first ever paper on ERAS for major spine surgery.

The impact:

Following a series of education sessions conducted by Middleton and Wainwright in New Zealand, ERAS principles were implemented in 18 of the country’s participating district health boards for more than 11,000 people having elective hip and knee replacements and acute patients with fractured neck of femur, or broken hip – a potentially life-threatening injury, especially in older people. The results were significant:

  • average LOS fell from 4.63 to 4.05 days for hip replacement surgery and from 5.00 to 4.29 days for knee-replacement surgery, resulting in a nominal saving of NZ$ 1.8 million
  • the number of blood transfusions fell from 13.9% to 9.2% for hip replacements, from 17.8% to 5.5% for knee replacements, and 31.9% to 27.5% for fractured neck of femur, resulting in a nominal saving of NZ$516,000.

Wainwright has worked with the Scottish Government to implement a national programme to improve standards of care for orthopaedic joint arthroplasty patients across all 22 units in Scotland. Data collected from the Musculoskeletal Audit on behalf of the Scottish Government between September – December 2013 showed:

  • an increase from 21% (2010) to 92% (2013) of hip and knee arthroplasty patients benefitting from ERAS and
  • a decrease in LOS from 5.6 days (2010) to 4.8 days (2013).

A survey last year of attendees of the education sessions in New Zealand noted a range of benefits for patients as a result of implementing ERAS. Respondents reported shorter hospital stays, fewer complications and positive feedback from patients.

Next post: the effects of terrorism on tourism & reading on screen.

How to write about impact in your funding bids

Writing about impact in a grant application can be challenging. However, a strong description of the benefits you hope your project will have on society and the economy, and the means you will take to get there, can make all the difference between getting funded or not.

The RKEDF online training session Impact and Funding Bids on Thursday 17 June 13:00-14:00 will help you understand exactly what you need to include for the best chance of success, and look at the different ways impact may be considered within each call.

Although the UKRI removed the Pathways to Impact sections of grant applications last year, they still expect impact to be embedded within funding bids. So, how do you write about impact in grant applications? And has the removal of the Pathways made it even more challenging?

This session is aimed at researchers at all stages of their careers, but is likely to be especially useful for ECRs preparing their first funding bids. It will be facilitated by Impact Officer Amanda Edwards and Funding Development Officer Eva Papadopoulou.

Although the session will include a brief look at definitions of impact, it is advised that you watch the 10-minute introduction to impact video on Brightspace beforehand to get the most out of the training.

Booking: Please email OD@bournemouth.ac.uk with evidence of approval from your Head of Department or Deputy Head of Department. You can see all the Organisational Development and Research Knowledge Development Framework (RKEDF) events in one place on the handy calendar of events.


Research impact at BU: a science-art collaboration & rebuilding trust in the insurance industry

Celebrating BU’s impact case studies for REF 2021

An image of AfterGlow (2016) boredomresearch








Enhancing scientific practice & communication and enabling strategic and financial growth through science-art collaboration

Research area: Art & Design

Staff conducting research: Vicky Isley, Paul Smith


boredomresearch is a collaboration between artists Isley and Smith, who are internationally renowned for their projects combining art, science and technology. Both were research lecturers at BU’s National Centre for Computer Animation from 2005-20. Three interdisciplinary art-science research projects were featured in the impact case study.

Working with Oxford University neuroscientists, Isley and Smith’s Dreams of Mice (2015-2016) captured data displaying the patterns of neuron activity in sleeping laboratory mice. The artwork enabled complex neuroscientific research to be disseminated in a form understood more intuitively by experts and non-experts alike.

AfterGlow (2016) is a real-time digital animation depicting malaria transmission, created in collaboration with Glasgow University. It leads the viewer on a visual journey through a landscape illuminated by glowing spirals, representing mosquito flight paths and infected blood, thereby illustrating the intimate relationship between disease and its environment. AfterGlow won the prestigious moving image Lumen Prize award in 2016 and has been exhibited all over the world.

For Robots in Distress (2016-2019), boredomresearch worked with computer scientists from Austria’s Graz University during the creation of the world’s largest robot swarm – designed to monitor pollution in Venice Lagoon. Isley and Smith created an animation visualising emotional robotics, depicting a murky underwater world populated by small glowing robots seemingly helplessly navigating the hazards of plastic waste.

The impact:

By representing research data in visual, intuitive formats, boredomresearch provided their scientific collaborators with a fresh outlook, encouraging questions and insights into abstract concepts at the frontiers of research. As well as communicating research, all three art-science projects exemplified and promoted the actual practice of communicating science through art.

More than three million engagements from scientists, industry, civil society, policymakers and the public were recorded for the Silent Signal exhibition, which featured AfterGlow. BU research insights also enabled organisations to grow financially and strategically. The Biodesign Institute in Arizona used the BU findings to inform a successful $8.5m bid to establish the Arizona Cancer and Evolution Center. Animate Projects, which established the Silent Signal exhibition, exceeded their target audience of 24,000, thanks to AfterGlow contributing the “largest proportion of viewings of all commissioned projects”. In Berlin alone, 84,000 viewed the film at a single screening, and it also helped Animate Projects extend their reach into Asia.

Restoring consumer trust in the insurance industry

Research areas: Marketing, Strategy & Innovation, Retail Management

Staff conducting the research: Dr Julie Robson, Professor Juliet Memery, Dr Elvira Bolat, Samreen Ashraf, Kok Ho Sit


In 2016-17 Dr Robson and her team undertook two funded research projects to provide a greater understanding of trust, specifically the measurement of trust, trust erosion and trust repair. One project examined the trust repair process and mechanisms used in traditional and digital media within selected high-profile trust erosion examples.  The second project investigated trust repair in three very different high-profile contexts, including mis-selling in financial services.

This latter study identified the actions that organisations took to repair trust and how these actions influenced consumer attitudes towards, and trust in, the company and wider industry sector, taking into account different causes of trust damage. The outcome of the projects was a new management trust repair tool to help businesses better understand and respond to trust challenges. Specifically, it helps them to understand the conceptual differences between trust and trust repair. This tool is also is the first to initiate a framework offering a choice of mechanisms with which to repair trust. Details of the tool, and the step-by-step process to follow to restore trust, has featured in an online guide for practitioners

The impact:

By 2017, trust in the insurance industry had reached an all-time low, and a range of damaging practices, such as mis-selling, were assumed to be the cause. However, research was needed to identify accurately the specific causes and establish how to repair consumer trust.

Dr Robson worked with the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) to develop a new Public Trust Index – shaped by BU’s own trust repair tool – to measure and track changes in consumer confidence in insurance. The Index identified that the key problem in building consumer trust was the practice of dual pricing – whereby new customers get cheaper insurance than loyal customers. Based on this finding, the CII worked with the industry regulator to produce new guidelines which prevent this practice, therefore protecting customers from overpayment, and repairing industry trust.

Next post: identifying the risk of malnutrition in older people & enhancing patient recovery after surgery.

Research impact at BU: support for those with ‘face blindness’ & preserving iconic wartime tanks

Celebrating BU’s impact case studies for REF 2021

Pinpointing prosopagnosia: the professional and social impact of achieving NHS recognition

Research area: Psychology

Staff conducting research: Professor Sarah Bate, Dr Peter Hills, Dr Nicola Gregory, Dr Rachel Bennetts, Dr Anna Bobak

Background: People with the cognitive disorder prosopagnosia cannot recognise faces, which can severely affect their everyday lives. In 2012, BU launched the Centre for Face Processing Disorders (CFPD), led by Professor Bate, to investigate the condition. Bate began by conducting a large-scale investigation of face recognition difficulties in primary school children, which showed that, despite low awareness of the condition, prosopagnosia is more common than other, better-known developmental disorders such as ASD. BU researchers interviewed adults with the condition and parents of children displaying face recognition difficulties, which enabled them to develop a detailed analysis of the strategies people use to cope, and subsequently to create the first evidence-based list of recommendations for managing prosopagnosia.

The impact: In 2014 – following a House of Commons roundtable discussion where the BU team presented their research findings – the NHS formally recognised the condition. Subsequently, the first ever page on prosopagnosia was launched on the NHS Choices website, under the A-Z of conditions. It links directly to the CFPD, and more than 20,000 people worldwide have used the resources. The vast media interest in Bate’s work increased substantially in the months after NHS recognition, with coverage of prosopagnosia in high-profile outlets such as The One Show, The Times, ITV News and Scientific American leading to raised public awareness and hundreds more people seeking a diagnosis. The NHS webpage also promotes Bate’s behavioural intervention techniques for improving face recognition skills. This unique resource offers the only known opportunity (globally) for prosopagnosic children to access an amelioration programme, and has reached participants from the UK, USA and Australia. Analyses show improvement in face recognition following 10 sessions of training compared with controls, with stronger improvements in children than adults, while parental feedback is very positive, suggesting that improvements transfer to everyday life.

Preserving historically important battle tanks and developing best practice in the heritage vehicle museum sector

Area of research: Design, Engineering & Computing

Staff conducting research: Professor Zulfiqar Khan, Dr Adil Saeed, Dr Hammad Nazir

The Tiger 131, which featured in the 2014 film Fury

Background: BU’s Condition Monitoring, Analysis and Prediction model (CMAP) develops reliable estimates of large engineering structures’ performance and vulnerability, by using improved simulations based on experimental observations and data. In 2009, Khan’s team began a collaboration with the Tank Museum, with the aim of implementing a framework to monitor and, ultimately, slow down structural deterioration. Initial experimental investigations analysed tanks’ corrosion and wear failures and provided valuable data to develop precision-based mathematical models to predict and prognose failures in military vehicles. The first prototype was commissioned by the Tank Museum and installed on two historically important battle tanks. This led to a patented novel sensor design and the development of a framework of remote sensing techniques, which were used to predict failures such as corrosion, deterioration, cracking, chipping, coating and significant wear and erosion. Combined with novel maintenance-scheduling algorithms, this enabled identification of the best time to perform maintenance, in terms of safety and cost.

The impact: The Tank Museum, which attracts 200,000 visitors a year, houses one of the most important collections of its kind in the world. It applied BU’s novel conditioning method – now patented – to significantly increase the lifespan of its vehicles and preserve them for future generations. The Tiger 131 (pictured) is one of only seven Tiger 1 tanks surviving worldwide and, thanks to the BU-Tank Museum collaboration, is currently the only one restored to running order. Following its improved performance, the tank was featured in the 2014 film Fury, which received widespread praise from critics for its realistic depiction of WWII. Increased public interest prompted the museum to hold special ‘Tiger Days’, which have taken place on a biannual basis since 2013. Thousands of spectators come to see the Tiger 131 and other iconic tanks. The increased visitor numbers have brought commercial benefits to the museum, contributing to the annual turnover of more than £20m, while the remote-sensing technology is helping to reduce inspection and maintenance costs. The research data was also critical in securing £2.5m in Heritage Lottery funding to build the museum’s Vehicle Conservation Centre, which established optimal preservation and operating conditions for heritage vehicles, and is defining best practice for museums worldwide.

Next post: restoring consumer trust in the insurance industry & a collaboration between art and science

New select committee inquiries

Responding to a select committee is an easy way to get your feet on the pathway to policy influence and impact.

Below are the most recently opened inquiries. There will be other inquiries accepting evidence too –  all inquiries currently accepting evidence are here  .

COVID 19: PPE Suppliers | Public Accounts Committee | Deadline for evidence submission: Monday 17 May 2021

The Myanmar Crisis | Foreign Affairs Committee | Deadline for evidence submission: Tuesday 18 May 2021

COVID-19 cost tracker update | Public Accounts Committee | Deadline for evidence submission: Thursday 20 May 2021

Technological Innovations and Climate Change: Supply Chain for Battery Electric Vehicles  | Environmental Audit Committee | Deadline for evidence submission: Saturday 22 May 2021

Pension stewardship and COP26 | Work and Pensions Committee | Deadline for evidence submission: Friday 18 June 2021

An Equal Recovery | Treasury Committee | Deadline for evidence submission: Monday 28 June 2021

Overview of costs in the English rail system | Public Accounts Committee | Deadline for evidence submission: Thursday 6 May 2021

Liberty Steel and the Future of the UK Steel Industry |Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee | Deadline for evidence submission: Friday 14 May 2021

The Navy: purpose and procurement | Defence Committee | Deadline for evidence submission: Sunday 30 May 2021

Women in Prison | Justice Committee | Deadline for evidence submission: Monday 7 June 2021

Implementing the Integrated Review in Nigeria | Foreign Affairs Committee | Deadline for evidence submission: Monday 7 June 2021

UK space strategy and UK satellite infrastructure | Science and Technology Committee | Deadline for evidence submission: Wednesday 23 June 2021

Why should I engage? Submitting evidence to a select committee can lead to further engagement, such as an invite to give oral evidence. Your submission will be published on the Committee webpage. Your insights may inform the Committee’s conclusions or recommendations it makes to the Government. Find out more about why to engage with Parliament hereAnd find more on engagement for impact here.

More information: all inquiries currently accepting evidence are found here 

Support resources: find guidance on submitting evidence to select committees on the KEU’s ‘how to guides’ page  

Support: Please engage with BU’s policy team before submitting evidence to a select committee. We can provide guidance and templates for colleagues who are new to responding to inquiries and we read through a substantial draft before all colleagues submit their response. Contact us – policy@bournemouth.ac.uk