Senior Lecturer in Transport and Planning, Steve Melia, has written a new book called Roads, Runways and Resistance – from the Newbury Bypass to Extinction Rebellion. It spans a 30-year story of the most controversial issues in transport, and the protest movements they spawned. His research included 50 interviews with government ministers, advisors and protestors – many of whom, including ‘Swampy’, were speaking for the first time about the events they describe. It is a story of transport ministers undermined by their own Prime Ministers, protestors attacked or quietly supported by the police, and smartly-dressed protestors who found a way onto the roof of the Houses of Parliament.
The research project which led to the book was partly funded by UWE, although most of the interviews and writing were done in Steve’s own time. It also produced two academic journal articles, which inform the book’s conclusions in a ‘light touch’ way.
The book will be launched virtually in a webinar on the 26 January 2021. The webinar will be introduced and chaired by Prof. Graham Parkhurst. Steve will tell the story of the main events described in the book, and also reflect on the tensions between academic research, direct action and writing for the general public, before opening for questions and discussion.
More about the book can be found here or watch this short video:
Steve Melia is a Senior Lecturer in Transport and Planning in the Centre for Transport and Society. His research interests focussed on behaviour change (particularly in the context of climate change), changing transport policy and the interaction between transport and spatial planning. He invented the term ‘filtered permeability’ and the concept of the ‘paradox of intensification’. His PhD concerned the potential for carfree development in the UK. He has advised UK Government departments, local authorities, political parties and the UK Climate Assembly in 2020.
One of our Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) companies, Flexys signs multi-year deal with personal loans provider, Bamboo.
Flexys provides modular, highly scalable and extensible debt management, collection and recovery solutions for the digital age. Their cloud-native solutions maximise operational efficiency, reduce the cost to collect and ensure that they deliver the best possible customer service while protecting your business from reputational and regulatory risk.
Flexys Solutions is based at the Future Space Innovation Hub, part of our University Enterprise Zone and employs over 20 people, most of whom are working from home for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. Flexys has experienced a period of significant growth this year as lockdown fuels a surge in digital engagement and a move to cloud-native technology.
Bamboo are a direct lender who have built their business around helping people find an affordable loan that fits your credit situation.
Flexys CEO, Jon Hickman said “We are very proud to have secured this multi-year partnership with Bamboo. The economic consequences of the pandemic have put debt management in the spotlight and we have seen a surge in demand for our smart, cloud-native systems. Every new client helps us to expand our business and to promote Bristol as the ideal location for innovative technology businesses.”
Our KTP with Flexys aims to integrate Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technology within debt resolution software, to enable more effective management of debt resolution and improvement of customer relationships and retention.
A KTP scheme is a UK-wide programme helping businesses to improve competitiveness and productivity. With the help of graduate talent and access to UWE Bristol academic expertise, a KTP can help your business to transform and solve problems to achieve goals.
Navigating reduced hours careers: experiences of male and female executives and senior managers is a research project led by Professor Susan Durbin (UWE), with Professor Jennifer Tomlinson (Leeds University Business School) and Stella Warren (UWE) for the Human Resources, Work and Employment Research Group in the Faculty of Business and Law at UWE, Bristol.
The challenges of greater gender balance at senior management levels and on corporate boards are faced by businesses worldwide. Working hours are critical to career advancement and women rather than men tend to seek a reduction in hours at career defining life course stages. Despite previous research that shows women experience a lack of progression in their career when they reduce their working hours, until now there has been very little research focusing specifically on executive/senior management careers of women and men in relation to reduced hours working.
The most widely utilised form of flexible working in the UK is part-time, however this tends to be mostly in low paid, low skilled occupations and although part-time work has grown in professional occupations, this cannot be said for managerial roles where in fact less than 4% of jobs are on a part-time basis.
This has significant consequences for the utilization of women’s skills, pay and career opportunities across the life course.
As researchers who specialise in women’s careers and in tackling gender inequalities in the workplace and labour market, Sue Durbin and team believe that making reduced hours working available at senior levels would enable more women to step forward into senior roles. We also believe that this opportunity should be open to men. Women’s work, especially when performed on a reduced hours basis, is under-valued and not enough women are making it into senior roles. For most women, and some men, having the opportunity to work the hours that would enable them to have a work/family balance could be key to their future prospects and benefit the wider businesses in which they work.
The support of employers is key to making this happen. This research project enables us to get in touch with senior men and women working on reduced hours basis and to explore why and how they reduced hours and what that means for their senior careers.
The project began in November, 2019 and is funded by the British Academy/Leverhulme Trust. Recognising the rise in the use of flexible working arrangements at the organisational level, and a drive for more inclusive workplace cultures, what are the prospects for navigating executive and senior management careers while working reduced/part-time hours? When individuals at senior levels do work reduced hours, what are their experiences of work in terms of job quality and growth potential, and how do the experiences of reduced hours working compare and contrast between male and female executives and senior managers? Furthermore by focusing exclusively upon executives and senior managers, this research explores the experiences of organisational leaders who have reduced hours and the strategies they employ to manage a demanding position requiring leadership and visibility while working less than full time, and the extent to which they feel they can act as role models for others seeking to advance careers on a flexible basis. The project addresses this important research gap to better understand how male and female senior managers navigate flexible careers and how gendered assumptions might impact their careers.
We are working with seven external partners who have offered their support to the project. All have a keen interest and take active roles in the promotion of gender equality in organisations. They know the importance of gender diversity at all levels of organisations and the business benefits this can yield. Crucially, they are able to help us to access and interview the rare and hard to reach executives and senior managers who work on a reduced hours basis, in the UK.
Flexology – flexible working specialists in the recruitment of professional part-time and flexible working roles and the design and implementation of flexible working practices
Workwell – a HR and people change consultancy, providing support in the areas of HR/people support, flexible working, project management, strategy, stakeholder management and research
TeachFirst – a charity that was set up to address educational disadvantage in the UK and is currently extending the uptake of job share working at senior levels
Timewise – an organisation that was founded to tackle the lack of quality part-time jobs and to encourage more organisations to open up to both men and women jobs on a flexible basis, at all levels of organisations
Fair Play South West – the women’s equality network for the South West of England, researching and consulting women on their aspirations and barriers to achieving them and campaigning for change
Moon Executive Search – undertakes executive recruitment for senior management and board level roles and other highly skilled candidates.
The project is being conducted through virtual interviews with male and female executives and senior managers working reduced hours in organisations across the UK private sector. Interviews began just before ‘lockdown’ (March, 2020). Importantly, the interviews also explore the impact of the pandemic on interviewees’ careers, including working from home, their views on this new way of working and its potential future ‘normalisation’, organisation readiness for lockdown/working from home and the general impact of covid on the individual and their ability to work from home.
The project will culminate in an end of project event (September/October, 2021), involving all research participants and partner organisations, key business leaders, policy makers and groups set up to support gender balance in business. At this event, we will present the key research findings and discuss recommendations for best practice, alongside a panel of business experts and policy makers who are keen to promote the social and business benefits of reduced hours and wider policies on flexible working.
If you would like to know more about the project and/or would like to take part in an interview, please contact email@example.com
Robin Hambleton, Emeritus Professor of City Leadership, Centre for Sustainable Planning and Environments in FET, has written an international book on Cities and communities beyond COVID-19. How local leadership can change our future for the better.
Published by Bristol University Press on 16 October 2020 this forward-looking analysis, which builds on his previous book, Leading the Inclusive City, includes a detailed discussion of the Bristol One City Approach. Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, contributes a Foreword to the book.
Robin argues that modern urban strategies need to address four major challenges at once: the COVID-19 health emergency, a very sharp economic downturn arising from the pandemic, the climate emergency, and deep-seated social, economic and racial inequality.
Robin comments: ‘Thanks to remarkable fast-tracking by Bristol University Press this book has been published in less than three months from submission of the manuscript. I hope readers find that it is up to date and highly relevant to the pressing issues the country now faces’.
A research project undertaken by Professor Melvyn Smith and Dr Mark Hansen titled “Investigating automatic detection of emotion in biometrically identified pig faces using machine learning” has been featured in the Netflix docuseries “Connected: The Hidden Science of Everything”, where science journalist Latif Nasser investigates ways in which we are connected to each other and the universe.
The project is based on prior work that was undertaken by the centre with SRUC which explored the possibility of using computer vision and deep learning, specifically a special kind of artificial neural network known as a convolutional neural network (CNN), to recognise individual pig faces. The project was able to biometrically identify pigs using their faces with around 97% accuracy.
In the current project, rather than recognising individuals, the team are instead exploring whether facial expression can be recognised and used to detect whether a pig is stressed, unstressed and perhaps ultimately if the animal is happy.
The findings of the project could have important implications not only in farming in terms of improved productivity and reduced costs, via early identification of animals needing attention and where happy animals tend to be more productive (like humans), but also in realising better animal welfare.
Mel and the team’s research features in episode 1 of the Connected docuseries. The episode focuses on Surveillance in the world but specifically how we watch people and animals.
Mel Smith commented: “This work is very exciting for me because there has been a great deal of interest in detecting expressions related to emotions in humans, largely based on the work of psychologist Paul Ekman and the so called six prototypical expressions (happiness, sadness, anger, fear, disgust, and surprise). The idea that we could do anything like this in animals, to know how an animal is feeling, would be quite ground-breaking and could have huge beneficial implications.”
Connected is now available to watch through Netflix.
Future Space resident, 500 More Ltd has won a grant to work with Oxford Brookes University on an Artificial Intelligence (AI) development that monitors how you walk after having Covid-19.
How you walk (or gait) is an indicator of recovery from diseases such as Covid-19. The funding will enable the joint team to develop an app to analyse walking, allowing doctors to track how patients recover. The project utilises state of the art AI to objectively measure walking quality, a key health indicator.
500 More has been selected as one of a number of innovative start-up businesses to receive funding from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, to fast-track the development of innovations born out of the coronavirus crisis, while supporting the UK’s next generation of cutting-edge start-ups.
Greg Smart, CEO 500 More Digital said: “The DataGait project will help patients who are recovering from Covid-19 by giving them simple walking tasks to perform at home, allowing clinicians to track their recovery safely and remotely.
“This is a great example of our mission to drive purposeful digital innovation. Innovate UK funding will allow us to get this product in the hands of patients and doctors more quickly.”
Future Space is part of the University Enterprise Zone. They connect entrepreneurs and tech innovators with scientists, researchers and graduate talent – to spark collaboration, innovation and growth. Find out more here.
As a result of their expertise in Public Health, Emergency Medical Care, Knowledge Mobilisation, Maths and Computer Modelling, and other such related areas, a number of UWE researchers have been approached or volunteered in assisting with the country’s efforts to tackle Covid-19. A selection of these researchers can be found below. This is by no means an exhaustive list.
UWE Researchers and the Clinical Commissioning Groups
As part of UWE’s response to Covid-19,
researchers from UWE have been working with the local Clinical Commissioning
Groups (CCG) to provide evidence to support rapid decision making. The CCG are the people charged with making healthcare
decisions locally and they are currently grappling with things such as: what do
we need to do? where do we need to pool our resources? what types of treatment
are needed? how do we need to respond? The local CCG includes healthcare providers in Bristol, North Somerset and South
Within the local CCG ‘cells’ have been established, acting as working
groups purely in
response to the impact that Covid-19 is having on current healthcare. Many
issues have come up including: home monitoring of symptoms, impact on mental
health and impact of healthcare workers’ absenteeism. These issues have come up
as people look to manage problems most effectively and efficiently. The Research
and Evidence Team at the CCG, along with Professor Nicki Walsh who works across
UWE, the CCG and the Applied Research Collaborative (ARC-West) are working with
the local commissioners to manage these requests. These important questions are
then fed to the Applied Research Collaborative West team, who co-ordinate
researchers from UWE and the University of Bristol, creating a rapid response
team to retrieve and synthesise evidence, or provide other advice to support evaluation,
healthcare modelling, statistics and economics.
The emphasis of this approach is the
rapid turnaround system. Most requests are processed within 48 hours from the point
of the CCG submitting a question, to the academic providing that support and
reporting back to the CCG. Nicki
is the overall co-ordinator
at UWE for all this because of her work across the different partner
In place, there is now a
good pool of UWE and UoB researchers ready to respond to calls for assistance
as and when they come in. Nicki says the response from academics has been excellent
and hugely encouraging:
“This service requires academics to work in
such a different way. Because it’s quick and by necessity not as in depth as
traditional evidence reviews. Traditionally things can often progress quite
slowly, but it’s been a totally different response and things are getting
turned around quickly”.
Nicki explained in more
detail how resources were best pooled:
“All academics involved have suggested what
their skill set is so we have a really good idea who can do what. If it’s
something incredibly specific like health economics for example, there may only
be quite a small pool of people who can contribute to that. But for things like
evidence synthesis most academics are able respond to these requests. The
emphasis at the minute is ensuring that we’re able to provide good enough
evidence to help with decision making in a rapid responsive way.”
Nicki also suggested how
the work could benefit future collaborative research opportunities:
“I think it’s really innovative and supportive
to our NHS colleagues. It also potentially creates further questions that could
be researched later.”
The evidence syntheses are being regularly updated and are openly available here.
Professor Julie Mytton
Julie Mytton is a Professor of Child Health and a member
of HAS’s Centre for Health and Clinical Research. She has specialised in public
health research since 2006, with a particular interest in injuries and injury
prevention. She is also a qualified medic.
Julie is one of many other UWE academics working with the
Centre for Public Health and Wellbeing who are receiving calls for work from
the CCG (via Nicki Walsh). She has also been in contact with University
Hospitals Bristol NHS trust, and as a medic has joined their bank staff, providing
clinical care support as and when needed.
Julie also noted that there is a Public Health Registrar,
Alasdair Wood, based at UWE to offer further support.
Professor Jonathan Benger
Jonathan Benger, a Professor in Emergency Care
and a Consultant in Emergency
Medicine at the University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, has
been released from his current clinical and academic duties, at the request of
the National Medical Director, to assist in leading the national response to
Coronavirus in his role as interim Chief Medical Officer at NHS Digital.
Professor Jo Michell
Jo Michell is an Associate Professor in Economics. His
current research interests include macroeconomics, money and banking and income
distribution. As soon as the nationwide lockdown was announced, Jo co-wrote a paper
for the journal Autonomy outlining
orderto cope with the increasingly severe reduction in economic activity in
the UK, guaranteeing the incomes of all those who are eligible for in-work or
out-of-work benefits is rapidly becoming a necessary policy lever.”
This idea was picked up by
John McDonnell (the then Shadow Chancellor), and it’s possible it may have played
a role in influencing Rishi Sunak’s (the Chancellor) subsequent announcements. A
follow up letter by Jo and 97 other economists was penned to The Times, and published on Monday 23rd
March, “insisting that the government goes
significantly further in its economic response to the Covid-19 crisis.”
Professor Matthew Jones
Matthew Jones is Associate Professor in Public Health. His research specialises in the contribution that third sector and civil society initiatives make towards promoting public health and wellbeing. Mat and other colleagues in the Centre for Public Health and Wellbeing (CPHWB) have authored a report entitled Apart but not Alone: Neighbour Support and the Covid-10 Lockdown.
Carried out in Bristol and the West Country between 6th-12th April 2020, over 500 respondents reported back on neighbourhood initiatives during lockdown restrictions. A whole range have sprung up in recent weeks: social media support groups, food and medication collections, telephone calls, Zoom chats, leafleting. Interestingly, many neighbourhood groups were already in place before formal local/national efforts had been mobilised.
Of those who responded,
the overwhelming majority felt that neighbours were supporting each other well.
Mat Jones et.al did note however contrasting answers from those based in areas
of high social disadvantage, with an emphasis on such neighbours supporting
people with financial difficulties, those with disabilities or mobility issues,
and people without easy access to outdoor spaces.
Perhaps most noteworthy were the gender in-balance
responses (80% female):“an
important issue is whether the practical and emotional work of supporting
neighbours is falling disproportionately on women.”
Professor Sue Durbin
Sue Durbin is Professor in Human Resource
Management and is a member of the Centre for Employment Studies Research in
FBL. Sue has researched and written on gender and employment, specialising in
women who work in male dominated industries. She is a
co-founder, along with Airbus, the Royal Air Force and the Royal Aeronautical
Society, of the altamentoring scheme, a bespoke industry-wide mentoring
programme designed for women/by women. Mentors and mentees can connect to this mentoring
platform online or in person.
It is within the context of Covid-19 that alta can be seen to play a crucial role,
with existing and new members utilising its online tool. Indeed, the value of
online mentoring has never been so important, as Sue explains:
“It may become a time for mentors and mentees to
take stock of where they are in their careers and where they would like to go.
can therefore best be utilised via the alta platform, at a safe distance but
offering comfort and advice to women who may be feeling especially isolated,
vulnerable or lacking confidence if their roles have been furloughed. Or they
may simply want to reach out and turn the current situation into a more
“During the current pandemic, the restrictions on movement and new ways
of working remotely have resulted in a physical disconnect from family, friends
and colleagues. For those who already have an established mentoring
relationship, this can be a crucial source of support, facilitating an
opportunity for both mentor and mentee to discuss concerns and keep connected
during this unprecedented time.”
In January, the Research Impact team hosted a two day writing retreat for selected academics from UWE Bristol.
The retreat was the last one in a series of away days that have taken place since last June for the different faculties at UWE Bristol.
The two-day retreats allow academics to think about their research case studies away from campus enabling them the opportunity to fine tune and edit their work.
The impact team helps the academics to fine tune their work so that it is in a good position to submit for the Research Excellence Framework 2021.
All four retreats have been extremely well received, with glowing feedback from attendees:
“Very many thanks for organising and initiating for us such a brilliant retreat. It has made a huge difference to me – I would never have made this progress without it!” Participant A
“The experience has been really excellent (and I know others have said the same). The structure, information, advice, hospitality and good humour that the RBI team provided was exceptional. As a result it was possible – in bite-sized chunks – to get tuned into the specifics of what was needed and then review and revise the case study material as well as getting critical feedback on it in near real-time.” Participant B
“I found the structure and flow of activities well-structured and relaxed, which is exactly what was needed to get us talking to each other and working on our case studies. Thank you for not ‘forcing’ us into unnecessary “workshop standard” activities, which usually involve flip-charts, felt-tip pens and post-it notes! This is an element I’m always dreading in mandatory workshops/seminars and not having it, is what made me feel more comfortable and got me concentrating on the task at hand.” Participant C
Read some of UWE Bristol’s Research with Impact Case Studies here
(L-R) April Coombes (UWE), Professor Melvyn Smith (UWE), Dr Gytis Bernotas (UWE), Dr Mark Hansen (UWE), Geraint Jones (Innovate UK), James Theobald (Agsenze)pictured at the Agri-EPI Centre in Shepton Mallet.
Since April 2019, UWE have been collaborating on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Agsenze, a company focused on developing smart technology within agriculture. The two-year project intends to realise the functionality of a system for improved dairy herd management using novel animal monitoring technology.
We spoke to Gytis Bernotas, who obtained his BEng and PhD
from UWE, and is now leading the project as the KTP Associate.
How long have you
been a KTP Associate?
I started in April 2019, so almost a year.
What attracted you to
the KTP role?
I was drawn to a KTP because of the opportunity to work with
a company and university. It’s a very rewarding setup because you experience state-of-the-art
research being immediately realised in real-world scenarios, rather than be
hidden in the desk drawer.
How is the
partnership between UWE and the company working?
The partnership is working very well. We are circulating the
best thoughts and ideas from experts in academia and people from the business
world. The company is benefitting from the expertise and novelty, while the
university receives publicity and recognition with academic journal
What are the current
challenges of your role?
The biggest challenge is time! I’m working for a start-up
company trying to establish itself in a market niche in a timely manner.
What do you enjoy
most about your job?
I really enjoy the problem solving, but most importantly I
really believe in the product and how it will revolutionise cattle welfare and,
hopefully, other livestock in the future.
What do you think
about the support available from UWE and the Company?
I get great support from the company, my academic
supervisors and the UWE KTP Team. The KTP Team are always on hand to provide
advice and project support. My supervisors provide opportunities and support to
research different ideas that have potential for Agsenze’s business model, such
as the developing tool positioning or its hardware alterations.
The Women in Research Mentoring Scheme (WRMS) has been
successfully running at UWE Bristol for 6 years. The scheme matches female researchers to
a mentor (male or female) in order to provide mentees with encouragement,
support from experienced colleagues to fulfil their research aspirations.
WRMS is available to all women in academic and research
roles, employed by UWE, who wish to develop their research careers.
In the longer term, this scheme helps to achieve
the strategic aim of increasing the number of women in senior
research roles across UWE Bristol.
From 2013 to February 2019, over 300 members of staff have
participated in the scheme. Currently the scheme has a 94% satisfaction rate
and 88% would recommend the scheme to others.
Dr Laura Fogg-Rogers is the academic co-chair of the scheme, and commented: “I have progressed from being a mentee in the WRMS scheme, to being a mentor, and finally now taking on the Co-Chair role. Meeting with such a supportive community of UWE women academics has really inspired me to further my own research career, and I am keen to support other women to do the same”.
Feedback from mentees has been positive:
“As a new researcher,
it has been inspiring and supportive to be part of this scheme. Meeting other
women in the same position has given me the impetus to prioritise my personal
“I was paired up very
well and so was able to find out lots about local groups in an overlapping area
of interest, but I also received support and advice”
Pam Fitzsimmons co-chair of WRMS commented: “We are really pleased with the results of
the scheme to date and look forward to helping more female researchers in the