• United Kingdom

    Accepting PhD Students

    PhD projects

    Innovation; Intellectual Property; Technology Adoption; Standards; Business Performance; Productivity; Applied Microeconomics

    Personal profile

    Contact Details


    Cher Li joined Aston Business School in 2023 as a Professor of Economics. She has an extensive background in higher education, having previously worked at Nottingham University Business School, Imperial College Business School, the University of Strathclyde, and the University of Glasgow. 

    A recognised expert in the economics of innovation, Cher serves as a rover/chair of the UKRI Interdisciplinary Assessment College (IAC), the government Expert Peer Review Group (PRG) as well as the Council of Experts of UKRI Innovation and Research Caucus (IRC) - a leading think tank to provide thought-leadership as well as inform innovation policy and practice. Cher is also a member of the Innovation Growth Lab (IGL) Research Network - a global policy initiative led by Nesta, Innovate UK, BEIS and other partners. 

    As an economist by training, Cher's research primarily centres on innovation, intellectual property (IP), technology standards, and productivity. She has successfully secured funding for her research projects from organisations such as the ESRC, UK government departments (e.g., BEIS, UK Trade and Investment now the Dept for International Trade, Scottish Enterprise), and international organisations. Most recently, Cher is a Co-investigator on the 2 million GBP UKRI project - Transforming Productivity: Coordination and Evidence Hub (2020-2023, funded by ESRC). This project aims to convert academic insights on productivity into practical solutions and designs interventions to address the UK's productivity challenges.

    Cher's expertise has led her to consult widely for various government offices, independent agencies, and private businesses, often serving on steering groups for many UK government projects in innovation, IP, internationalisation, and productivity. Her policy reports have contributed to the evidence base used in shaping the UK's industrial policy, including the 2014 BEIS Foresight initiative on the Future of Manufacturing. In 2019, Cher received the prestigious BSI Standards Makers Awards for Education about Standardisation from the British Standards Institution, in recognition of her exceptional teaching and research in standards, innovation, and productivity. Recently, Cher has provided in-depth advice on the evaluation of the following programmes -

    • Help to Grow: Digital
    • BEIS Business Basics Programme
    • GO-Science (BEIS) Covid-19 Recovery Group (Local and National Growth ARI)- BEIS
    • BEIS Energy Entrepreneurs Fund
    • National Measurement System (NMS) Measurement for Innovators Programme

    PhD Supervision

    Cher's primary areas of research focus on innovation, digital economy, technology and management standards, intellectual property, and firm performance indicators such as productivity. She is keen to supervise PhD candidates whose research interests align with these domains. Cher has successfully supervised various PhD students through to completion, many of whom have secured lectureships at leading institutions, including Alliance Manchester Business School and the University of Santiago, Chile. She warmly welcomes applications from prospective PhD students in these fields.


    • Professor of the Economics of Innovation, Nottingham University Business School (NUBS), 2023
    • Associate Professor in Industrial Economics, Nottingham University Business School (NUBS), 2013-2023
    • Senior Research Fellow, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Group, Imperial College Business School, 2009-2013
    • ESRC Research Fellow, Department of Economics, University of Strathclyde, 2007-2009

    Membership of Professional Bodies

    • Deputy Chair of the UKRI Policy Fellowships Panel, 2023
    • Council of Experts of UKRI Innovation and Research Caucus (IRC), 2023-present
    • DESNZ Expert Peer Review Group (PRG), Dept. for Energy Security and Net Zero, 2023-present
    • BEIS Expert Peer Review Group (PRG), Dept for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (now Dept for Business and Trade), 2019-2023, (assessing evaluation projects of government-led business support programmes)
    • UKRI Manufacturing Made Smarter (MMS) Network+ Commissioning Panel, 2021
    • BEIS GO-Science (BEIS) Covid-19 Recovery Group (Local and National Growth ARI), 2020-2021
    • Member of the Innovation Caucus (leading think tank funded by ESRC and Innovate UK to provide thought leadership and inform innovation policy and practice), 2017-2023
    • Special Issue Editor of Small Business Economics journal (on green entrepreneurship), 2017
    • Steering group for the UK government’s ‘FDI and UK IP’ project, UKTI (now Department for Business and Trade), 2010-2011
    • Steering group for the UK government’s ‘Trade in Services’ project, UKTI (now Department for Business and Trade), 2009-2010

    Available PhD Studentships

    PhD studentship with Prof Cher Li (ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership programme) on Advancing Business Competitiveness Through Management Standards and Certification: As part of the Midlands Graduate School, we are excited to invite applications for a fully funded Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Doctoral Studentship in collaboration with project partner United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS), to commence in October 2024. More details on the project and how to apply here

    Education/Academic qualification

    PhD, Economics, University of Glasgow

    Award Date: 15 Jun 2009

    MSc, Financial Economics (Distinction), University of Leicester

    Award Date: 1 Mar 2005

    External positions

    Research Associate, the Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence (ESCoE)

    Expert Peer Review Group (PRG), Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

    Innovation Growth Lab (IGL) Research Network Member, NESTA

    Interdisciplinary Assessment College (IAC), UKRI

    Research Fellow at Nottingham Centre for Research on Globalisation and Economic Policy (GEP), University of Nottingham


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