Economic Futures

Economic Futures is a placement programme that provides opportunities for undergraduate economics students, graduates and early career academics to apply what they have learned in the real world. In Summer 2023 @Adith Srinivasan joined BiGGAR Economics for an eight week placement as part of the Programme. In this blog post, he reflects on his experiences.

University/Business Collaboration

Collaboration with businesses is a central feature of universities’ engagement strategies and constitutes a great share of higher education institutions’ impact on their local, regional, and national economies. But how can the economic impact of these services to business be measured and assessed and what factors must be accounted for when estimating economic impact? These were the questions I was asked to consider as part of my placement project.

My project involved investigating the rates of return accruing to businesses participating in collaborative research with universities. To do this I looked at evaluations of previous and ongoing university-industry collaboration programmes from around the UK, as well as academic literature. The objective was to estimate an average rate of return (or range) that could be used to estimate the potential returns to business investment in collaborative research projects in the future.

The research found that the economic impact of collaboration between businesses and universities varies considerably across projects. The characteristics of the universities and businesses involved, the nature of their collaboration and the innovation ecosystems within which collaborations occur all make a difference. As a result, the challenge of estimating the economic impact of services to business is in appreciating the context of the collaboration and accounting for the variety of factors that might influence the scale of impact.

After researching what factors are likely to cause variation in impact the project yielded a new methodology for assessing the economic impact of knowledge exchange activities. BiGGAR Economics is now refining the method so it can be used its future work with universities.

A Practical and Enriching Experience

My placement at BiGGAR Economics was as enriching as it was educational. The team were welcoming, friendly, and always open to my flurry of questions. Interactions in the office were always pleasant, and everyone enabled me to make the experience my own. As a student looking to learn more about consulting and economic development, everyone helped ensure I learnt as much as I possibly could over the few weeks I was there.

The placement was also a practical education in real-world economics. Not only was it an opportunity to apply my economics education to real cases, clients and contexts, it was a chance to learn more about what “meaningful impact” actually looks like from a company that takes this seriously.

“What became clear from my first week in the office was that ‘impact’ is not a token word at BiGGAR Economics – it is a serious mission that guides the projects we work on, the companies we work with, and the clients we work for.”

As an adventure into a career in economics, I could not have asked for a better placement than with BiGGAR Economics.

As a testament to my time at BiGGAR Economics, following my placement, I was offered a part-time position during my fourth year, with the opportunity to stay with the company as a Research Economist upon my graduation in Summer 2024. I accepted the role and have been working with BiGGAR Economics as a Student Economist since September 2023, working on a variety of projects, including university impact assessments, wind farms, and more.

I am incredibly grateful for all the projects that I have been able to be involved in, and all of the learning that those have come with. I am very much looking forward to what’s to come, as I finish up my undergraduate studies and venture onwards. For students looking to learn more about economic development and policy, and work for an impact-based consultancy, I could not recommend a placement with BiGGAR Economics more.

Find Out More

We loved working with Adi during his placement and are looking forward to welcoming another placement student later this year. If this sounds like something you would be interested in you can find out more at

BiGGAR Economics is always keen to hear from people who share our aim of making a positive impact on the economy and society so whether you are a recent graduate or a seasoned professional, if this has piqued your interest please get in touch:

Posted 09.05.24