NEWS8 December 2020

2020 agency of the year: BritainThinks

Awards News UK

BritainThinks won Research Live agency of the year at the 2020 MRS Awards.


BritainThinks was set up in 2010, growing from three founders (pictured) and a fee income of £314,000 to a team of 48 and an annual turnover of £5.7m by 2020.

The company started out with a handful of clients, most of which remain, and has since grown its client base to 85 organisations across the public, private and third sectors.

No single client accounts for more than 15% of its income, with three of its top five spending clients having been with BritainThinks for more than three years.

BritainThinks focuses on strategically essential projects and building deep relationships, which means that even during a worldwide pandemic, it is ahead of its target for 10% growth in earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) in 2020.

Last year, BritainThinks became employee-owned, and has become a registered B-Corporation. It is a MRS company partner, and 80% of its senior team is female.

The company’s work includes reaching vulnerable, low incidence audiences and researching complex topics. Its next venture is developing a virtual reality platform for online deliberation.

BritainThinks has also invested in its own research on major issues of the day, running Brexit and coronavirus diaries projects. Its research has led to more than 70 media appearances this year, often making headlines with its qualitative and deliberative insight.

Its ethos has helped it working with major organisations, from delivering twice weekly debriefs to 10 Downing Street and the Department of Health and Social Care, to developing a Home Office campaign for EU citizens to register to stay in the UK after Brexit, or to help healthcare firm Abbott position its insulin testing product. BritainThinks has also helped organisations such as Camelot and WWF develop post-Covid-19 strategies.

Staff at BritainThinks have access to flexible working and paid sabbaticals for five years’ service, and around 50% of staff came through the company’s living wage internship scheme. Staff retention is at more than 80%.

Ben Shimshon, founding partner at BritainThinks, said: “We are so proud to have been named best agency 2020 on our tenth birthday. The team that we’ve built at BritainThinks are truly extraordinary, and it’s wonderful to see their intelligence, creativity, teamwork and dedication recognised in this way.

“I want to thank everyone who works at BritainThinks and all our brilliant clients, many of which have been with us since we set up shop 10 years ago.”

The MRS Research Live Awards judges said: “This award is won on the last 12 months’ performance and, alongside the financials, BritainThinks’ strong retention rates and extraordinary levels of media coverage were particularly impressive. This is an example of an organisation having an impact and doing it in the right way.”

The full awards winners can be found here.

Pictured – Deborah Mattinson, Ben Shimshon and Viki Cooke.