Funding opportunity: ADR UK welcomes applications for research grants using Northern Ireland business data

Researchers will be able to use business data from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) – the Business Data for Research (BDR) Northern Ireland database – for policy-relevant research.

The call is now open for applications and will close on Thursday 16 June 2022 at 16:00. 

A webinar was held on Wednesday 25 May, during which representatives from ADR UK and NISRA discussed the funding opportunity and answered questions. Watch the recording.

Research focus 

Research using Business Data for Research (BDR) must meet a development need or challenge and aim to support research priorities of the Department for Economy (DfE) NI economic policy, specifically the DfE’s 10X Economy - An Economic Vision For A Decade Of Innovation. 

NISRA de-identified trade and business data has been routinely used for some time by Department for Economy (DfE) statisticians in support of monitoring, evaluation and research conducted by the department. Business and trade data are of importance to a range of policy and research areas including: 

About the data

BDR is currently available on a restricted basis for analysis by government researchers, and NISRA would like to widen its use and make it available to ADR UK researchers. You can read a summary of the de-identified business surveys on the NISRA website. The release of data to researchers is for three main datasets: 

  • The Northern Ireland Annual Business Inquiry (NIABI) 2014-2020 collects both financial and employment information from businesses and other establishments and covers around 66% of the economy. This includes the production, construction, distribution and service industries in Northern Ireland, but mostly excludes public sector activity.  
    The NIABI provides a number of high-level indicators of economic activity, such as the total value of sales and work completed by businesses (turnover); the value of the purchase of goods, materials and services; and total employment costs. The contribution of different industries to the overall value of economic activity can be assessed, and because estimates of employment are collected at the same time, it is also possible to measure value added and costs per head. This allows better comparison between different sized industrial sectors. 

    The NIABI is designed to provide the best estimates for Northern Ireland, as well as providing information that is used at a later stage to inform UK National and Regional Accounts estimates. In 2011, questions relating to the value of trade were added to the NIABI questionnaire, and as such the NIABI also includes data used to produce a number of trade-related measures within the Broad Economy Sales and Exports Statistics (BESES). BESES is a National Statistics annual measure of local businesses’ sales to and purchases from markets outside Northern Ireland. 

  • Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES) 2014-2020: The BRES collects employee job figures by gender and working pattern from public and private sector businesses in Northern Ireland. The data is collected at local unit level (individual business sites) which allows for disaggregation of the employee job counts by Northern Ireland geographies. The business description is collected, which allows disaggregation of the employee job counts by industry.  
    The BRES collects information at a local unit level that is used to update the Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR). The data collected includes contact details including email address and business address, business operational status and business activity. The business register information obtained from the NI BRES is processed within the Economic Labour Market and Statistics Branch (ELMSB) within NISRA. This data is used to update the NI element of the IDBR which is used as a sampling frame for business surveys. 

  • Earnings and Employees Study (EES) 2011: The Earnings and Employees Study (EES) 2011 links together variables from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) 2011 with variables from the Census of Population and Housing 2011, and Capital Value data from the Land and Property Services. The dataset takes the form of one pre-linked table.  
    The ASHE is a UK-wide survey that provides data on hourly, weekly and annual earnings by gender, work patterns, industry and occupation, including public versus private sector pay comparisons. The sample used comprises approximately 1% of all employees in NI who were covered by Pay As You Earn (PAYE) schemes, and the EES contains 5,770 distinct ASHE records which have been linked to Census records. 
    The Census of Population and Housing collects information every 10 years about people and households in Northern Ireland. It is used by central and local government, health authorities and many other organisations to plan and provide future services. It is hoped that research involving the EES data will help to inform the development and monitoring of public policy and provide an evidence base for decision making. There are a number of potential EES research themes. These include, but are not limited to, factors influencing variation in median pay, graduates and the workplace, disparity in pay and migration, public versus private jobs, and geography and pay. 

Funding and eligibility 

Researchers can apply for a research grant of six months in duration, up to a maximum of £65,000 at 100% full economic cost (FEC). ADR UK will fund 80% full economic costs subject to the Economic and Social Reseach Council (ESRC)’s funding policy. The following additional conditions apply to this call: 

Key dates 

  • Deadline for initial applications: 16:00 on 16 June 2022 

  • Decisions: week beginning 1 August 2022 

  • UK Statistics Authority Research Approval Panel (RAP) application: August-September (if successful) 

  • Full Je-S application: August (if successful) 

  • Latest start date: 1 October 2022 

  • Expected project end date: 31 March 2023. 

How to apply 

You need to submit the initial application form via Je-S by 16:00 on 16 June 2022. When applying select: 

  • council: ESRC 

  • document type: Outline 

  • scheme: Outline proposal 

  • call/type/mode: ADR UK NISRA Business Data for Research outlines 2022. 

The completed BDR brief application form and CVs are the only required attachments. The BDR brief application form should be uploaded as attachment type: case for support. 

Your proposal must draw on relevant business research literature, concepts or approaches and include significant research expertise within the remit of business research. 

You will need to show how your research provides impact for the DfE’s 10X Economy - An Economic Vision For A Decade Of Innovation throughout the application. You should especially highlight this within Section 1 of the form. 

Full applications (if successful)  

If your initial application to this call is successful, you will be required to submit a full application using the joint electronic submission (Je-S) system for us to administer the funding.  We anticipate we will only require a more detailed budget breakdown and justification at this next stage. Additional project information may be requested by the funding panel. 

The scheme will close to applications on 16 June 2022 at 16:00. 


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