Applied Economics and Enterprise Research Centre

The Applied Economics and Enterprise Research Cluster group provides practical solutions to businesses, using an interdisciplinary approach to apply knowledge.

Our research draws upon research from colleagues in the economics, finance, entrepreneurship, law and evaluation disciplines. Our specialisms include microfinance, corruption, behavioural, international and development economics, as well as the evaluation of impact in public and private sector initiatives.

Our aims

The aim of this research cluster is to bring a broad range of applied knowledge from economics and other related disciplines to understand and address the myriad of problems businesses, particularly smaller ones, face. This is all to provide practical solutions that enhance their performance.

We collaborate with national and international organisations such as the NHS, World Bank, East Midlands Chamber, Chatsworth House, IMF, UN, Derby City Council, and the Central Bank of Nigeria. We also work with colleagues from other national and international institutions such as UCLA, Harvard, Hunan University and the University of Texas.

Research Cluster Team

Our research

Colleagues have conducted economic evaluation studies for a variety of organisations including the Buxton Festival, Let’s Do Business, and councils including Derby City, Derbyshire County and Warwickshire County.

We are members of the D2N2 Covid-19 Economic Recovery Analytical Group and in June 2020, presented a research briefing on COVID-19’s impact on the D2N2 local labour market from an occupations perspective. The main findings were provided by the Group to the D2N2 Economic Recovery Board.

In 2019, we successfully secured funding for a 2 year management Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Chatsworth to examine the economic impact of the Devonshire Group. 90% of this funding is supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

In 2020, we were commissioned to conduct the D2N2 local skills report for the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership's Skills Advisory Panel. This work evaluates the local labour market in terms of existing and future skills requirements and will feed into outputs produced by the Department for Education’s (DfE) Skills and Productivity Board.

We lead the European Structural and Investment Funds Productivity through Innovation programme in partnership with Nottingham and Nottingham Trent Universities. This scheme offers practical support to small firms to assist enterprise growth. This is aimed at enhancing and accelerating the innovative capacity of SMEs in the region through a structured programme of support. Alongside this support, a dedicated evaluation team are conducting a real-time evaluation of the firm-level impacts of assistance against a selected control group of firms who did not receive support.

We have been commissioned to work with Let’s Do Business, a provider of government-assisted funding programmes for local small businesses, to evaluate their interventions and provide recommendations to help support the sustainable growth of local small businesses. Through a formal evaluation and cost-benefit analysis with a sample of assisted small businesses, the report found that small-scale local interventions do make a measurable impact to business outcomes. The formal report was cited as an example of good practice evaluation in a 2020 report by the European Commission's Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy.

Research by our group has led to the development of an e-transparency index which provides more accurate measures of corruption and evaluation of anti-corruption initiatives to minimize corruption, improve accountability and increase citizen inclusiveness has led to projects and high-profile collaborations with the World Bank and the UN.

In 2018/19, we secured a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowships in 2018-19 entitled ‘Stock Connect: A New Model of Financial Market Integration’.

Join us

If you are interested in joining this research centre, want to find out more or are interested in applying for a PhD in this area, please contact Professor Carley Foster at