Postgraduate Research

Do you have ambitions to understand how innovation and entrepreneurship really works? Would you like to be recognised as a leading authority in the area? Have you demonstrated a determination and persistence when solving problems and challenges? If this sounds like you, read on and discover a little bit about the world of research at the University of Bristol’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

The Centre brings together a number of dynamics to create a positive and diverse environment.

  • Research at the Centre is focused on two core areas: 1) design thinking, and 2) broader entrepreneurship issues. Either of these research areas can involve start-ups or be in the context of established organisations. Our expertise covers a range of organisation types, from small scale social ventures to high growth commercial start-ups.
  • We welcome research students from a wide variety of backgrounds. We particularly value experienced candidates who have first-hand experience of the challenges that are faced by innovators and entrepreneurs. We look for students who have an interest in addressing real world problems through research.
  • Many of the staff are experienced professionals who have worked in senior roles outside universities. This includes entrepreneurs, designers and consultants. Consequently, the Centre’s research focuses on an addressing current issues being experienced in industry. We aim to have significant impact.

PhDs are research led degrees and there is no taught programme to undertake. That said, we do ensure that our students receive support and training when undertaking their research programme. We expect students to be fairly self-directed in their day to day research, whilst supervisors are on hand to provide guidance and advice at regular intervals.

We encourage our research students to work within the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. This allows them to experience the workplace, alongside academics and professionals in a challenging and lively environment. We work in an open plan environment, so there is plenty of opportunity to engage with staff and students alike.

The expectations on potential research students are high, as are the potential rewards. We recognise that experience is valuable, and in many cases more than compensates for traditional academic qualifications. We receive a lot of applications for our PhD programme, so make sure that your achievements stand out in your application.

We encourage prospective students to contact the Centre before applying to discuss their research interests and find out if suitable supervision is available. Initially it is best to contact Dr Tom Ellson, the Centre’s Research Director, on

For more information contact


Design Thinking
  • Dr Malé Luján Escalante
  • BA (Hons) MA PhD (Lancaster) FHEA
  • Lecturer
  • Research interests: 1) Design Research 2) Ethics of Technology 3) Feminist Science and Technology Studies (FSTS)
  • Dr Don Parker
  • BA (Hons) MPhil PhD (South Wales) FHEA
  • Lecturer
  • Research interests: 1) Advertising 2) Design 3) Consumer Behaviour
  • Dr Keir Williams
  • BA (Hons) MA MSc PhD (Queen Mary) FHEA
  • Senior Lecturer
  • Research interests: 1) Participatory Design 2) Special Educational Needs (Education and Technology) 3) Media and Arts Technologies
  • Dr Gerasimos Balis
  • BBA MSc MRes PhD (Lancaster)
  • Research Director
  • Research interests: 1) Enterprise Education 2) Design Thinking 3) Service Design
  • Dr Tom Ellson
  • BSc (Hons) PhD (Cranfield) FCMI FRSA FHEA CMath FIMA
  • Director
  • Research interests: 1) Strategy 2) Entrepreneurial Behaviours 3) Mergers and Acquisitions
  • Mr Mark Neild
  • Lecturer
  • Research interests: 1) Entrepreneurship Education 2) Social Justice 3) Innovation Leadership and Culture

Recent awards

  • Winners of the Advance HE ‘Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence 2019’.
  • Winners of the ‘Higher Education Team’ category in the UK’s National Enterprise Education Awards 2018.
  • Bristol is home to ‘The World's Best University-run Start-up Incubator’ (UBI Global Index 2018).
  • Bristol has ‘The 2nd Best Start-up Economy Outside London’ (Start-up Cities Index 2017)

The best way to predict the future is to create it.

Peter Drucker

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Mark Twain
Study areas
Edit this page