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BDC partners with University of York and industry in PhD pilot

Employees from regional and national industries could study for PhDs under a new £1m pilot scheme to be introduced at the University of York in the area of circular, sustainable manufacturing.

Up to eight funded places will be available for employees from partner businesses working in chemical and biochemical industries to work with York academics in the Departments of Chemistry and Biology.

Equality and diversity

The new scheme allows staff to combine work and study, supports equality, diversity and inclusivity and career mobility by reducing barriers for people who have industry experience, but might not have traditional qualifications for PhD study.

The scheme, the first of its type at the University of York, was announced today by the Government as part of a £179m funding package to support the next generation of research and innovation leaders. It is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) – part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

York is one of only four UK pilot projects. The first group of students will begin their studies at York in autumn 2020.

Dr Avtar Matharu, from the University’s Department of Chemistry will lead the project, he said:

This is a new model of academic-industry partnership that offers a pathway into doctoral study for employees who have industrial experience, but may not have traditional academic qualifications. Our approach is very personal and respects the needs of the employer, employee and academic supervisor. Doctoral training opens up options for further career advancement – but it also offers benefits for industry in terms of increased productivity and the introduction of new, more sustainable manufacturing processes to support a more sustainable, circular economy.


Industry partners

Partners in the York project include Nestle, Unilever, speciality chemicals company Croda and FujiFilm Diosynth Biotechnologies (FDBK). Other partners include University of York subsidiary the Biorenewables Development Centre (BDC); BioVale and the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership.

 University of York Vice-Chancellor Professor Charlie Jeffery said: 

We are delighted to be part of the pilot project to open up our doctoral training to people working in industry. This project enables us to share our considerable research expertise in a way that benefits individuals – but also benefits the wider regional and national economy by opening up new insights into productivity and sustainability.

York has also been awarded £2.6m by EPSRC to fund a further 33 PhDs in engineering and the physical and mathematical sciences.

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