Our Associates

Iwona Borowik

Economist, Entrepreneurship and Innovation Policy, The World Bank

Iwona is an economist with 13 years of international policy experience at the World Bank, the European Commission, the London School of Economics and Political Science, NGOs and the private sector. Iwona has been working with governments in Europe and Central Asia, in particular, on reforms and programs targeting entrepreneurship, public research commercialisation and private sector competitiveness including formulation of innovation strategies, institutional capacity building, development of executive agencies supporting private sector innovation, design and supervision of the implementation of programs for financing innovation. Iwona holds a PhD in economics from Warsaw School of Economics in Poland in collaboration with George Washington University, USA.

In her thesis, Iwona investigated innovation and learning patterns across sectors of the West Midlands region with implications for the region’s innovation policy.

View Iwona’s LinkedIn profile here.


Dr Zhaoya Gong

Lecturer in Human Geography (Big Data), School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham

Dr Zhaoya Gong is a quantitative human geographer and Geographic Information Scientist. His research interests centre on two interwoven themes, namely leveraging computational and data sciences to advance geographic information science, and dynamic processes of urbanisation and complex modalities of spatial structures generated at various scales, as articulated by interactions of land use and transportation/mobility systems, with respect to the social, economic, and environmental sustainability of resulting urban settlements.


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Dr Catherine Harris

Research Fellow, Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, Coventry University

Catherine HarrisCatherine Harris is a Senior Research Fellow within the Birmingham Business School. She currently works for City-REDI. Her PhD investigated the experiences of Polish migrant entrepreneurs in the West Midlands region of the UK and is the first large-scale study of its kind. Her key areas of interest include enterprise, ethnic entrepreneurship and EU labour migration.

Methodologically, Catherine’s interest is in qualitative and ethnographic research. Catherine’s research has attracted interest internationally and has been disseminated in both the print and broadcast media.

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Professor Geoffrey J.D. Hewings

Emeritus Director, Regional Economic Applications Laboratory, University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign

Geoffrey HewingsWe are also pleased to work with Professor Geoffrey J.D. Hewings who is Director of REAL; the Regional Economic Applications Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign.

He has received Fulbright and Woodrow Wilson awards and was Executive Director of the Regional Science Association International which recognized him with an award for Service to Regional Science.


View Geoffrey’s full profile.


Dr Charlotte Hoole

Research Fellow, Urban Studies and Planning, University of Sheffield

Charlotte HooleCharlotte joined City-REDI as a Policy and Data Analyst in October 2016. Her core research explores place-based leadership and governance in the context of devolved power structures, fiscal austerity and city-regions, with a methodological focus that centres on qualitative techniques. After completing her PhD in Urban Studies and Planning in March 2018, Charlotte won an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Sheffield that will begin in October 2018. She will remain an associate of City-REDI and will continue her collaboration with the Institute.


View Charlotte’s full profile. 


Dr Peter Lee

Reader, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham

Peter’s research and teaching focus on the relationship between people and place based social exclusion, how policies are designed to reduce exclusion and increase competitiveness whilst reconciling the uneven trajectory and function of places.  He has led on a number of housing market, regeneration and planning related research and consultancy projects for a diverse range of clients and funding bodies including the Department for Communities and Local Government, The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (UK), the Economic and Social Research Council, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the European Commission and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. Peter has worked on a number of consultative projects for regional agencies, local authorities and third sector agencies across the UK including the West Midlands and North East regional assemblies, Sheffield and Leeds City Regions and Liverpool and Birmingham City Councils. He was instrumental in delivering the current West Midlands Regional Housing Strategy and Birmingham City Council’s Housing Strategy and his research informed the establishment of the £2 billion Housing Market Renewal Pathfinder Programme (2003-2011).

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David Marlow

Chief Executive, Nottingham Building Society

David is an experienced, visionary Chief Executive (of a metropolitan local authority, a Regional Development Agency, and now his own company), Chair/NED, and economic development professional.

Since 2008, David has become one of England’s leading advisors on local economic growth. He has worked widely on devolution agreements, city and growth deals; on leadership, governance and institutional development at national, city-region and local levels; strategic economic plans and European (ESIF, H2020 etc) programmes; industrial strategy; Futures/ Foresight exercises; and university-place relations.

In the last two years, he has completed projects with national government, the two largest new Mayoral Combined Authorities, all tiers of England local government at the most senior levels, LEPs, both a Russell Group and a small specialist University on anchor institution developments, and a range of national intermediary and business bodies. He even led the UK government’s strategic recovery planning team to the British Overseas Territories in late 2017 in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria.

View David’s LinkedIn profile


Allan Mayo

Innovation and Smart City Strategist

Allan MayoAfter a recent retirement from a senior position at the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), Allan joins the University as an Honorary Professor and brings his extensive knowledge of Whitehall, local government and the European Commission and member states.

His area of expertise aligns closely with CityREDI, including understanding cities and urban transformation, understanding urban economies and environments, and policy aspects of Smart Cities, including the development of the Government’s strategy in this area, which was published in October 2013, and BSI’s strategy for developing a suite of smart city standards. He has been a member of Birmingham City Council’s Smart City Group and was instrumental in the development of the Greenwich Smart City Strategy, which was published recently.

View Allan’s LinkedIn profile.


Dr Max Nathan

Max Nathan

Max is Associate Professor, Applied Urban Sciences at the UCL Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, and is a Deputy Director of the What Works Centre for Local Economic Growth.

He is an economic geographer with a background in public policy. His research focuses on urban economic development, in particular, the economics of immigration and diversity; innovation systems and tech clusters; and public policy for cities, especially policy design and evaluation.

Max has over 15 years’ public policy experience in think tanks, consultancy and government, including at DCLG as an ESRC-DCLG Senior Policy Adviser. Max also co-founded the Centre for Cities, where he ran the research programme for the Centre’s first three years.

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Dr Amir Qamar

Lecturer/Assistant Professor in Strategic Management, University of Birmingham

Amir joined City-REDI as a Research Associate in October 2016 and is currently looking to better understand the relationship between the regional economy and specific firms. This research includes investigating multiplier effects within certain supply chains, the employment footprint of MNEs, R&D initiatives, and productivity levels.

Amir has a background in Economics and International Business, but his more recent work has focused on Operations Management and Supply Chain Management as his PhD research investigated the performance and contextual trade-offs between lean and agile organisations within the automotive industry in the West Midlands. Amir has experience of teaching a wide range of modules in the domains of business strategy and operations.

View Amir’s LinkedIn profile.


Dr Laura Reynolds

Postdoctoral Research Associate at Welsh Economy Research Unit, Cardiff University

Laura Reynolds is a Postdoctoral Research Associate within the Welsh Economy Research Unit at Cardiff University.  Her role involves providing expertise on the Welsh economy and regional economic analysis in a manner that engages the academic community and Welsh businesses. Before returning to Cardiff, she worked as a Policy and Data Analyst within the City-REDI team. Laura completed an ESRC-funded PhD at Cardiff University in 2018, investigating stakeholder governance in a decentralised place branding process. In particular, her research addresses the opportunities and challenges for stakeholders when participating in the presentation of cities and regions. Her research interests include city and regional governance, stakeholder engagement, place branding, small business governance and business innovation.

View Laura’s LinkedIn Profile.


Will Rossiter

Associate Professor of Regional Policy and Development, Nottingham Trent University

Will is an experienced research practitioner with a track record of research linked to local and regional economic development and industrial policy. As an economic development practitioner (2001-2011), Will was responsible for the design and delivery of a large scale multi-disciplinary research programme designed to inform regional and local economic development strategies and plans in the East Midlands. Since moving to NTU in 2011,

Will has undertaken a wide range of contract research, evaluation studies and academic projects/publications. Will’s academic research interests relate to local and regional economic development, industrial policy, the policy process, economic and institutional path dependence. Current projects include a comparative study of craft-based manufacturing in India and the UK, an exploration of cultural quarter initiatives in the Midlands and work on local economic governance in England.

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Mark Sheldon

Research Associate, Institute of Applied Health Research, University of Birmingham

Mark is a Research Associate within the Institute of Applied Health Research (IAHR) at the University of Birmingham. His current work primarily consists of supporting the British Heart Foundation with the production of key statistics and analysis. He has previously worked as a JSNA Officer and Knowledge Exchange Facilitator at the University, a role which combined working in a local authority public health information team, with researching epidemiology and health geography in the Institute of Applied Health Research at the University of Birmingham. He has a wealth of experience in data analysis following a number of roles across various public sector organisations including the NHS, local government and the regulatory sector. Mark has a particular interest in health geography i.e. visual and spatial epidemiology, and the use of GIS.

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Dr Emmanouil Tranos

Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, University of Birmingham and Fellow at the Alan Turing Institute

Dr Emmanouil Tranos is an economic geographer focusing primarily on the spatiality of the digital economy. He is a Lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Birmingham and has published on issues related with the geography of the internet infrastructure, the economic impacts that this digital infrastructure can generate on cities and regions and the position of cities within spatial, complex networks. His research in this area led to a monograph on “The Geography of the Internet: cities, regions and Internet infrastructure”. Emmanouil has also a strong interest and expertise on the use of new sources of big data, such as data from mobile phone operators, as a means to improve our understanding of the complexities of cities and urban systems. Currently, he is doing research on (i) the role of online social media as a medium for knowledge transfer and (ii) the evolution of the digital economy in the UK by utilising the wealth of archived web data.

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Professor Stephan Weiler

Professor of Economics at Colorado State University and Director of the Regional Economic Development Institute (REDI@CSU)

Stephan Weiler is the Director of REDI@CSU, a research institute based at Colorado State University which aims to understand, analyse, and inform economic development strategies, particularly in struggling regions in both rural and urban areas, especially in Colorado. He holds the William E. Morgan Endowed Chair as Professor of Economics at Colorado State University. Stephan’s research, teaching and mentoring have spanned a variety of development and labour market issues in Africa, Appalachia, Europe, and the American West. His current work focuses on regional economic growth and development, particularly in rural and inner-city areas, combining theoretical, empirical, and policy analyses on topics such as information, innovation, industrial restructuring, land use, public/private partnerships, immigration, entrepreneurship, and the environment.

City-REDI is working in partnership with REDI@CSU to provide fresh, timely, and cutting-edge information to enhance economic growth and development prospects for regions across the globe.

View Stephan’s full profile.