Future Focus: Innovation and
academic research with
The University of Exeter

Bespoke Business Research to give your business a competitive edge

Are you interested in the relationship between your business and the environment? 

The University of Exeter and Unlocking Potential have joined forces to deliver Future Focus. The ERDF funded programme for Cornwall and Isles of Scilly with fresh ideas, new thinking and inspirational people combined to enable established businesses to identify opportunities, trends and threats.

As part of this programme, the University of Exeter aims to help Cornish businesses explore the relationship between business and the environment, to move to a more environmentally sensitive, ethically responsible and circular way of running your business.

Through the programme, we’ll provide the hard facts about how a business can change it’s impact for the better through academic lead workshops; engaging events on sustainability, the environment, net zero and circular economy; funded research and development unique to each business and one-to-one support plus grants, jobs support and more.

The University of Exeter (Penryn Campus) can offer support with:


  • Business Breakfasts with industry and academic speakers on a variety of topics, such as: Circular Textiles and Fashion, Cornwall Tourism and a new Breakfast series starting in Autumn on Onshore Renewables
  • Engagement with an Impact and Partnership Development Manager who can help with jobs, grants and coaching as well as diagnostic and data collection
  • University Led Workshops over 2021 with our University of Exeter Academics, complimented by Academic Workshops using the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® materials and methodology, to help you take new thinking and apply it directly to your business
  • External Events such as Drapers Sustainability Conference and Mining Conferences being held virtually
  • Uber Visits – exclusive business trips to meet other industries and thought- leaders outside of Cornwall
  • Research from Business Research Fellows on topics such as: Sustainability/Circular Economy and materials and assessment, SME innovation, Networking and Collaboration

To start a conversation with the University of Exeter team, complete our contact form and a member of our team will be back in touch soon

Meet our Academics


Professor Allen Alexander – Senior Lecturer in Innovation

Allen is a senior researcher, investigating the role that innovation and knowledge-based capabilities play in enabling a transition toward the Circular Economy, in particular focusing on Circular Acceleration. His prior engineering career provides him with unique skills and has enabled him to team up and research alongside colleagues in the Marine & Maritime Renewable Technologies, Transport & Mobility and Construction.

Professor Steffen Boehm Professor in Organisation and Sustainability

Steffen’s research focuses on a range of social scientific analyses of problems of environmental sustainability and circular economy. He is currently working on a number of projects including applying his knowledge to; food systems, climate policy and carbon markets, and other environment-related work. He has written over 25 articles in The Conversation, reaching over 200,000 readers worldwide.

Professor Fiona CharnleyAssociate Professor of Circular Economy and Co-Director Exeter Centre for the Circular Economy

Fiona has a background in Industrial Design and has established herself as a thought leader in the Circular Economy, working at the interfaces of Design, Innovation and Manufacture. She has extensive experience of working with organisations from across sectors to identify new approaches to design, innovation, manufacture and business modelling to transform resource use and value creation. In 2018 Fiona was recognised as one of the Top 50 Women in Engineering by the Women’s Engineering Society and the Telegraph for her contribution to Circular Economy research and education.

Dr Ruth CherringtonBusiness Research Impact Fellow

Ruth has several years experience supporting research and development projects in collaboration with industrial and academic partners. In her previous role she was responsible for several industry funded research projects which focused on the environmental, social and financial implications of the materials and manufacturing processes within sectors such as automotive, energy and aerospace.

Dr Xiaoyu Yan Senior Lecturer in Energy and Environment

The overarching aim of Xiaoyu’s research is to develop quantitative analytical models and tools to help governments, industry and the public make more informed decisions with respect to environmental sustainability. He works closely with Prof Steffen Boehm whose research focuses on a range of social scientific analyses of problems of environmental sustainability and circular economy. The addition of Dr Xiaoyu Yan will help to strengthen the Future Focus offer on Circular Economy, Net Zero and Sustainability related work through a range of workshops, one-to-ones and bespoke research.

Professor Stefano PascucciProfessor in Sustainability and Circular Economy

Stefano is an applied economist who developed an interest for sustainability as connected to organization theories, innovation management, and value chain analysis. His research focuses on agribusiness, sustainability and circular economy. He is particularly concerned about how to analyse the interplay between sustainability, collaborative (open) innovation and value chain configurations.

Dr Laura PhilipsLecturer in Management

Laura’s research interests lie in the impact of digital and immersive technologies on the customer experience and business model change and innovation. Alongside Future Focus, she is also working on VISTA AR, which is a £7.8m INTERREG project that explores visitor experience at cultural heritage sites, creating new VR and AR digital interpretations and exploring the new business models they enable.

Dr Bill RussellSenior Lecturer

Bill is a senior lecturer and specialist in innovation and marketing at the University of Exeter Business School. He teaches Strategic and Responsible Innovation Management, B2B Marketing and Strategic Innovation Management. Organisations of all sizes and missions are facing growing pressure from cost conscious and eco- aware customers, employees and governments, who are demanding affordable, sustainable and high-quality products that work in the digital era. His work addresses these challenges through integrating innovation, the creation of value from ideas, and entrepreneurship, the skills and ideas to make innovation happen.

Professor Erno Tornikoski – Professor of Entrepreneurship, Director of the Centre for Entrepreneurship

Erno’s research interests involve the application of psychological and sociological theories, and both qualitative and quantitative methods to entrepreneurship to investigate how enterprising individuals transform entrepreneurial ideas into value creating new activities. Erno has a particular interest in gestation activities, decision-making logics, the construct of control, and qualitative process studies. In addition, he is exploring new research ideas connecting entrepreneurship and the following topics: sustainable value creation, community-based resilience, and frugal innovations.

The Future Focus 2 programme is receiving £2,509,399 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regeneration.

Future Focus logo lock-up with Exeter