His professional background was in academia (Anglo-Irish Studies) and in Business Journalism in London. During his . career he has worked in External Relations on financial assistance programmes in the former Yugoslavia, public administration reform in Central and Eastern Europe, and on Poland's accession to the EU. Dr Bell was a member of the Cabinet of Commissioner David Byrne with responsibility for enlargement, food safety, tobacco control, public health and global health security issues, including bioterrorism. He was Head of Cabinet to European Commissioner Meglena Kuneva on Consumer Affairs. As Head of Cabinet to Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn on Research and Innovation, he was responsible for developing and funding Horizon 2020, mainstreaming innovation, financial investment and simplification.