Cliff has operated as a freelance consultant since 2004. He does research, authors reports and is a facilitator and trainer. While at Heriot-Watt University he was also involved in contract research.

He has worked on numerous projects:

  • With Spatial Foresight GmbH ( ) to deliver research-based reports for the ESPON Co-ordination Unit on European territorial development and policy.
  • With the Royal Town Planning Institute ( to deliver the UK National Contact Point for the ESPON 2013 programme. 
  • As an external expert for the Royal Town Planning Institute on transnational projects within the ESPON 2013 programme.
  • For the ESPON 2013 Co-ordination Unit as a peer reviewer on Sounding Boards for research projects.
  • On European Union INTERREG projects.
  • On other European projects.
  • On Commonwealth, international and global projects.
  • On UK projects.  
Thursday, 07 January 2016 11:24

Chance for local authorities to get customised research for free

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ESPON is inviting local and regional authorities to put forward ideas for research that they would like done on development and governance in their area. The call extends to all 28 EU countries, plus Iceland, Leichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Six of the proposals received by 9 March will be funded, and there will be further rounds after that

The only cost to the successful councils will be in the staff time they provide to support the work by providing local data, inteviews with local officals or elected members, for example, plus any travel costs (though there would not necessarily be any of these). ESPON will pay all the costs of the research team in each chosen project.

The key to a successful bid is to connect  local issues to a wider European perspective. This allows for many possible kinds of topics to be researched, e.g. flood risk planning and management, future of town centres in small towns, strategies for SME growth in a sub-region, local impacts of migration on essential infrastructure etc. etc.

Similar projects operated in the previous ESPON programme, though there needed to be at least three local authorities from three different ESPON countries involved in the proposal. This restriction has now been dropped, and a single council can make a proposal. This is likely to faciliate the development and submission of a proposal, but the need to set the local issue in a European context remains crucial. Similarly, the proposer needs to be clear on how the research findings will be used in practice.

To see more and to access the application form click here. To see examples of projects supported in the ESPON 2013 proposals click here. If you have further questions feel free to contact me.      


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