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Case study: Quorn

Our funded PhD studentship with Quorn Foods developed a strong evidence-base for the nutritional value of mycoprotein, a key protein found in meat-free products.


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Kath Maby - Industrial Studentships Manager (Innovation, Impact and Business)

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Industrial Studentships

Industrial Studentships

What is an Industrial Studentship?

An Industrial Studentship is a form of doctoral funding (e.g. PhD, MbyRes) awarded to a student with relevant academic merit - often a recent graduate or a company employee. The funding is attached to a specific project which is determined by the industry partner. Through Industrial Studentships industry partners gain access to the knowledge and expertise of university staff, students and facilities.

What are the benefits to industry?

Industrial Studentships are a collaborative and usually early Technology Readiness Level (TRL1-3) research partnership between an industry partner, the University of Exeter and a Postgraduate Research (PhD) Student.

During an Industrial Studentship:

  • The postgraduate student researches a challenge directly relating to the needs of the industry partner.
  • Our industrial partners gain in-depth insight allowing them to develop and innovate their organisation.
  • Develops new and existing relationships, and enhances the impact of research.
  • Provides a recruitment opportunity following project completion.

Frequently Asked Questions

A full-time Industrial Studentship lasts either 36, 42 or 48 Months, depending on the project scope and the needs of the organisation. The period should allow around 6 months ‘writing up’ time for the thesis.

Industrial Studentships can be arranged as part-time with any FTE between (0.5-1FTE). This will extend the period of the studentship.

The student is usually based at the University, but they can be located or co-located with the industry partner either on a regular or placement basis.

The student is supervised by two academics, and can also have a Company Supervisor.

Due to its charitable status and position as a government funded organisation, the University is governed by ‘state aid’ law. The University’s IP positions must comply with this:

  • Partially funded Industrial Studentship: the University and industry partner will agree the ownership and licensing of the arising foreground IP on fair and reasonable terms, for example with Exeter owning any changes or improvements to the methodology and the company owning the research findings and applications in the sector.
  • Fully funded Industrial Studentship: the industry partner may own all of the arising foreground IP for commercial and/or non-commercial purposes. The University will still need to retain a non-exclusive license to the arising foreground IP for teaching and non-commercial research purposes.

Unlike some other pathways for research collaboration (e.g. consultancy), students must be able to publish a thesis based on their project work at the end of the project. If necessary, the published work can be nuanced to protect commercially sensitive information – e.g. the results being presented from models developed using generic data rather than the partners.

Under some circumstances, the industry partner may arrange a delay in publication of the thesis of up to 6 months following the project’s completion to make arrangements for the protection of any valuable foreground IP arising.

The University recruits a student, often a recently qualified graduate or employee at the company, to undertake an early TRL research project.

If the company has already identified a candidate they can be named in the contract rather than recruited. All students will need to apply for the programme through the University website.

September 1st is the usual student start date as from May-August is the best time to recruit students, however the University can enrol students throughout the year.

The total cost of delivering a 3-4 year Industrial Studentship varies between £90-£140k for a UK student and £130-£200k for an international student due to higher international student fees.

Funding must cover the fees, stipend, and research training support grant (RTSG) associated with a studentship. The company may also provide the student with additional funding as part of their agreement with the student.

Costs may be matched by the University on a case by case basis.

The company can either pay in instalments annual, biannual or quarterly, or in-full up front.

For any general enquiries, contact Kath Maby - Industrial Studentships Manager in Innovation, Impact and Business at the University of Exeter. Email: