Government and manufacturers give £17m for PhD collaborations

Posted on 6 Nov 2014 by The Manufacturer

Companies and universities across the UK are to benefit from a £17m fund for postgraduate students in engineering, physical sciences and mathematics. Nearly 40 companies will be involved and over 200 students.

Announcing the awards in Engineers Week, universities, science and cities minister, Greg Clark said: “Our universities are renowned for producing research and fostering world-leading scientists. The announcements made are further strides in bringing businesses and academia closer. This ensures our scientists and engineers have the support and opportunities they need to unlock their research’s potential.”

Professor Philip Nelson, CEO of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) which supplies the funds, said: “ICASE awards provide PhD students with first-rate research training which brings mutual benefit to both academic and partner organisations.

“The student’s experience is enhanced by giving them access to training, facilities and expertise not available in an academic setting alone.”

Industrial Cooperative Awards in Science & Technology (ICASE) provides funding for PhD studentships directly to businesses, which take the lead in arranging projects with an academic partner of their choice. The awards have been endorsed by representatives for some of the UK’s leading companies.

ICASE works by awarding the company that defines a research project and picks an academic partner. Once the arrangements for the project have been agreed between the company and research organisation, they can recruit a student. Companies may place these studentships with any research organisation that also receives doctoral training partnership funding from EPSRC.

Owen Nicholson, external research programme manager at Dyson Ltd, said: “Dyson has more than 50 live research projects with universities across the UK. With the EPSRC’s support and the ICASE studentships, we are able to support PhD’s in technical areas which we may otherwise not have been able to pursue independently.”

Dr Malcolm Skingle, director of academic liaison at GSK, said: “GSK values EPSRC’s support of ICASE studentships over the past couple of decades. The research undertaken by these students underpins much of the drug discovery process. Many of these bright people will be the research leaders and research directors of the future.”

Tim Embley, group innovation and knowledge manager at Costain plc, added: “Universities provide a vital role in developing talent and addressing industry challenges through research. A strong strategic relationship with EPSRC has been the enabler for Costain to engage with the ICASE scheme. This investment will allow us to develop future business leaders and continue to accelerate valuable innovation to market making a positive impact on our customers’ business performance.”

The scheme hopes to provide a potentially better student experience via the student being part of a larger cohort of individuals working in leading research teams.