Major Global Ranking Celebrates ‘World Leading’ Cambridge Judge

Professor Neil Stott, co-director of the Cambridge Centre for Social Innovation, presents during a Social Venture Weekend at Judge Business School. The weekends are organized by the Cambridge Social Ventures and were part of the school’s social innovation case study for the REF. Courtesy photo


During our conversation, Guillén and Mak also explained in more detail the five case studies Judge submitted to REF 2021 for evaluation. Four of the five are directly tied to one of the school’s 28 different research centers.

Energy market reform in the UK and China

This case study was a project of the Judge’s Energy Policy Research Group (EPRG), one of the world’s leading research centers on energy, environmental economics, and policy.

Led by Michael Pollitt, professor of business economics, this body of research examined the economic implications of unbundling the actors – the producers, transmitters, distributors, etc. – in delivering energy to customers. In most countries, the electricity sector has been largely state owned or integrated into large companies that control all aspects of the process.

Professor Michael Pollitt, far left, is shown alongside Chinese friends, embassy contacts and a National Grid representative in Fujian, China. Pollitt’s research has played an important role in energy market reform in the UK and China. Courtesy photo

“What our faculty did was essentially examine the UK and China and looked for ways to unbundle the operation of the business from the transmission,” Guillén says. “What they came up with was an economic analysis of making it more efficient, and essentially identifying what the savings would be. Obviously, you have to design prices and all sorts of details to make it possible for the power generators, power operators, and distributors to use the same integrated national grid.”

The research proposed recommendations for adjustments to UK’s National Grid, creating improved energy market function through a more customer-focused, decentralized system. It provided savings of up to $8 billion per year.

The EPRG has continued working with the National Grid to increase the use of renewable energy sources, and is working with the British Embassy in Beijing to assist the Chinese government in reforming its power sector – which produces about 8% of the world’s greenhouse gasses.

“Something really important is they also had recommendations as to how to phase in renewable energy sources and to create incentives for that, “ Guillén says. “Obviously, for me as dean, it’s just wonderful to be able to speak about this because we want the business school not just to help our students get ahead with their careers, but we also want to improve the planet.”

Supporting the transition to digital public services in UK and Australia

This body of research is part of a decade-long project by former Cambridge Judge professor Mark Thompson, who has since moved to another institution. It has helped local governments in Australia, Scotland, and the United Kingdom improve efficiency through digital transformation.

Thompson’s research on common platforms explained the value of disaggregating vertical processes in government and forming them into horizontal processes. His approach helps identify LEGO-like building blocks in digital platforms that can be shared across government services to make their services more efficient and customer driven. The project has led to the creation of an open-source digital library for local council governments, allowing them to share digital resources while improving both efficiency and quality of service for citizens.

“Mark has really been an opinion leader in the UK on this sort of digital transformation policy,” Mak says.

Researchers at the University of Surrey, London School of Economics and Bath Spa University also collaborated on the research.

Building sustainable growth in social enterprises

In 2014, the Cambridge Centre for Social Innovation (CCSI) founded Cambridge Social Ventures, an incubator for social enterprises seeking to address societal problems. It is the only such incubator based inside a university.

“This is obviously one of our jewels in the crown, because not only were we one of the first business schools to have a Center for Social Innovation, but we also have a master’s degree in social innovation. We really are pioneers in this area,” Guillén says. “And, we believe in the power of entrepreneurship; it is a defining feature of the school. We want to support social enterprises as a way to solve problems.”

Cambridge Social Ventures provides incubator support to entrepreneurs and enterprises working on a range of social and environmental issues around health, transport, housing, aging and education and others. It has supported more than 170 enterprises so far, securing more than £31 million in funding. More than 80% of them are still working two years after joining the incubator.

One of Guillén’s favorite ventures to get incubator support is Prison Voicemail, which makes it easier for prisoners to connect to and engage with family. Now, 90% of UK prisons use the system. Supporting research for the venture shows that prisoners who maintain stronger relationships with family and friends outside the institution are less likely to reoffend once they leave.

“For me, this is like the best possible example of a social enterprise,” Guillén says.

Nurturing and scaling startup businesses

Research from Judge’s Entrepreneurship Centre examined the entrepreneurial lifecycle – from startups to scale-ups – to not only help small and medium enterprises get their startups off the ground, but to help them scale up to sustainability.

The center’s Accelerate Cambridge program has supported 253 companies which have raised nearly £230 million in grant and venture capital funding and created hundreds of jobs.

“The numbers here are quite staggering,” Mak says.

One such startup to garner center support is Simprints which uses fingerprint technology to create a form of identification to people in developing countries. The service now helps deliver healthcare to 1.1 billion people with no formal identification. Simprints was founded by Cambridge Judge PhD graduate Toby Norman and was one of the first startups supported by Accelerate Cambridge.

“We are a school that really emphasizes entrepreneurship and we have been trying to nurture this mindset among our students,” Mak says. “We try to help people with interesting, original ideas get a foothold in the world of business and to develop into a successful venture – and often to bring benefits to the world as well.”

Developing tools to measure commercial exposure to cyber threats

Founded in 2009, the Cambridge Centre for Risk Studies (CCRS) is a cross-disciplinary research group working in cyber risk insurance products and management.

Research from the case study provides companies with ways to think about systematic risk and identifies mitigating actions to take against those risks.

“The solutions that the center has produced are actually being used in industry,” Guillén says. “Lloyd’s of London, for example, uses some of these tools to help them manage financial risk reporting of its syndicate members.”

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