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PhD projects

Corporate Digital Responsibility
Data and Digital Ethics
Financial Inclusion
Sustainable Finance
Responsible innovation


Research activity per year

Personal profile


Professor Karen Elliott is Chair of Practice in Finance and FinTech at Birmingham University Business School and Co-Director of the FinTech MSc Degree Programme. She has been named as ‘Standout #35 Women in FinTech Powerlist by Innovate Finance’ for Policy and Governance 2019, 2020 and listed for the new Hubs (governance) category in 2021. Furthermore, part of the Kalifa Review commissioned by HMT to drive the future of Financial Services and FinTech. Karen co-leads FinTrust, Agency, and the UKFin Network+ projects (£1.2m/£3.5m/£2.5m EPSRC/UKRI) with Prof van Moorsel to optimise trustworthy, responsible, and ethical AI, engineered to deliver citizen transparency, fairness, and inclusion. Likewise, co-led Finclusion (Gates Foundation/Turing Institute £100k), which explored verifiable credentials for vulnerable groups, focusing on dementia in the digital economy following her mother’s diagnosis. Prior to joining academia, she worked as a project, change, and programme manager across public, private, and voluntary sectors. She has publications in international journals including IEEE (4*), ACM (4*), IJOPM (4*), CHI (3*), ERM (3*), Springer Nature: Society (3*), JOCM (2*), Big Data and Society (2*), Technology in Society (2*), whilst on the Editorial Board for the Journal of Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies (JEEE) and reviewing for several journals and UKRI grants. She forms part of The IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems, (“The IEEE Global Initiative”) establishing ethical and social implementations for intelligent and autonomous systems and technologies inspiring the creation of Standards (IEEE P7000™ series and beyond). A member of the Prime Minister’s Champions Group for Dementia, Corporate Digital Responsibility, ForHumanity, Radix, the IEEE Global Initiative Planet Positive and an Ambassador for the Digital Poverty Alliance, Karen creates a fusion of academic and practical ethical considerations at the individual and societal level, seeking to find balance for an equitable digital society while protecting and sustaining the planet.

Research interests

FinTech is one of the major growth industries in the UK. Such companies create new, cheaper, and faster financial processes and services utilising the latest technologies―cloud, mobile and blockchain. To succeed, underpinning the use of technology is a prerequisite of how to gain customers trust when the financial industry mortgage crisis (2008-9) remains fresh in consumers memories. FinTech organisations need to gain human and technological trust as advances are rapidly changing the financial services landscape via machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) innovation. In addition, hacking and cyber security data breach events are continuous features of the news. Karen and Prof Aad van Moorsel (Computer Science) have formed a successful socio-technical partnership evidenced by their track record of research awards, FinTrust (£1.2m EPSRC), Finclusion (£100k, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation/Turing Institute) and Agency (£3.5m EPSRC) working with Atom Bank (Durham) towards optimising FinTech services. ‘FinTrust’ examines the issue of socio-technical trust in FinTech organisations, specifically, increased automation of processes and services in using ML and AI. In short, trust engineering where the use of algorithms present challenges to consumer trust via digitalisation of financial services. Likewise, ‘Finclusion’ uses responsible innovation in digital technologies to explore identity verification for what the FCA terms ‘vulnerable’ customers to permit open and equal access to financial and Fintech services across society. ‘Agency’ utilises interdisciplinary scientific methods, techniques, technology, and collaborative societal approaches to provide people with the freedom to interact online by exploring, identifying, and addressing complex digital harms in our digital world.  The ongoing research will demonstrate how to reduce complex online harms (via digital tools), and societal fears of such harm.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals

Education/Academic qualification

Machine Learning Course, London School of Economics and Political Science

1 May 202130 Jul 2021

Award Date: 30 Jul 2022

Doctor of Social Science, ‘Policy implementation as a wicked problem: A study of the horse-world’ , University of Durham

1 Oct 200615 Jun 2013

Award Date: 5 Nov 2013

Complex Adaptive Systems within the image of the Centre for Arts and Humanities in Medicine, University of Durham

1 Oct 200415 Jun 2006

Award Date: 19 Jan 2007


  • HG Finance
  • H Social Sciences (General)


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