Sheffield Hallam University joins London consultants to form new advisory and impact social enterprise

Sheffield Hallam University has become a partner in a new community interest company designed to support public, private and third sector organisations to have a positive social impact across the UK and internationally.

Sonnet Advisory & Impact is a community interest company (CIC), a type of social enterprise, that has been formed as a partnership between the Advisory & Impact (A&I) team previously operating from within Bates Wells solicitors and the University, building on a long standing relationship between Jim Clifford OBE, the founding principal of Sonnet Advisory & Impact and Sheffield Hallam’s Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR).

The Sonnet A&I team is a research and strategic consultancy with specialisms in mergers and acquisitions, and the design and reform of impact-based organisations and interventions.

The new CIC has been set up to expand the team’s impact capabilities as it continues to grow its client base amongst socially-minded and impact-focussed organisations who are working to achieve lasting positive impact in their sector or community.

In line with its social values, the company has made a commitment to apply 65% of its profits to funding innovation and pilot projects in areas of social change that might not otherwise happen, including partnerships with key national and international charities and funders.


The move sees the team departing from Bates Wells – its home for more than five years – but Sonnet will continue to work with the London-based law firm on shared client projects and initiatives, ensuring a full range of legal and advisory services is available to clients.

The link with Sheffield Hallam provides the CIC with extra research expertise as well as insight into areas of social, economic and environmental challenge that affect many of the team’s current clients.

CRESR is a leading policy research centre carrying out applied research and evaluation in areas of social policy including welfare reform, housing, vulnerable groups and the charity sector.

Peter Wells, Professor of Public Policy Analysis at Sheffield Hallam and Sonnet Director said: “Sonnet Advisory & Impact is an exciting new venture for Sheffield Hallam University and allows us to support more public, private and voluntary organisations to create as well as demonstrate and deliver social impact.

“Sonnet Advisory & Impact builds on SHU’s long-standing collaboration with Jim Clifford and his team of outstanding staff.”

The partnership will also bring a range of benefits and opportunities for students at the University including placements and guest lectures by the A&I team.

Jim Clifford OBE, founder and leader of the Advisory & Impact Team, and now Director of Sonnet A&I said: “Sonnet Advisory & Impact is a fantastic opportunity for us and SHU to collaborate more closely in our efforts to bring about positive social impact. We have wholly complementary skillsets and a shared vision for what can be achieved in some of the most challenging sectors of society.

The new CIC puts us in a strong position to benefit from combining our advisory expertise with the world class research and insight that SHU brings to the partnership.”

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