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Durham University

Intensive Industrial Innovation Programme

Intensive Industrial Innovation Programme

North East England’s universities are joining forces under an extension to the £3.9m scheme which initially commenced in October 2018, funded by the European Regional Development Fund, to connect the region’s businesses with research to encourage growth and job creation. Further funding of £3.7m is available to allow 45 SMEs to apply for a position on the programme. PhD students will be commencing their position 1st October 2019.

The Intensive Industrial Innovation Programme (IIIP) will see Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria and Teesside universities work directly with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the region to develop new services and products for the market.

Eligible SMEs will be supported by a dedicated PhD research student for three years, as well as access to senior academic researchers and university research facilities.

The project is targeted at supporting businesses in (or hoping to access) the priority sectors identified in the economic plans of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and Tees Valley Combined Authority.

The ultimate aim of the IIIP is to encourage a culture of innovation that benefits business, leading to greater export opportunities and increased graduate employment, particularly in science and engineering.

Work with industry experts as part of your PhD

Do you want to work with industry experts to apply artificial intelligence to engineering, or help develop new methods to improve how synthetic diamonds are made?

We have a number of great PhD placements where you’ll get the opportunity to work with industry as part of your three year programme.

Innovation, inspiration

The PhD placements are part of the ERDF Intensive Industrial Innovation Programme (IIIP), which encourages innovation by connecting businesses with researchers.

As part of your PhD, you’ll work with and be supported by our world-leading academics on your specialist subject area, as well as with a company based in the North East of England.

The IIIP is a great opportunity to carry out research while gaining valuable industry experience and to see how academic research can help businesses to grow and develop.

Apply today

Placements are currently available in our Chemistry, Engineering and Computer Sciences departments to start in October 2019.

Find out more

UPDATE: October 2019 start date, fully funded (UK/EU) PhD positions available:

  • Durham University, Chemistry Department - collaboration with Applied Graphene Materials - "Control and Optimisation of Graphene Nano-Platelet Modified Films through the use of Stratification''. For further information / how to apply:

  • Durham University, Chemistry Department - collaboration with Dyman Advanced Materials - "Exploring the Formation and Growth of Synthetic Diamond". For further information / how to apply:

  • Durham University, Engineering Department - collaboration with Dyer Engineering Ltd - "Artificial Intelligence in Engineering Management in the Manufacturing Environment". For further information / how to apply:

  • Durham University, Engineering Department - collaboration with Pipeline Innovations Ltd - "Novel distance sensing technologies for harsh subsea environments.". For further information / how to apply:

  • Durham University, Computing Science Department - collaboration with Geospatial Research Ltd - "Machine Learning methods for the analysis of time series of spatial data from GNSS sensor networks". For further infromation / how to apply:

  • Durham University, Chemistry Department - collaboration with G2O Water Technologies Ltd - “Building Resilience into Graphene-Oxide Based Nanofiltration Membranes: New approaches to control platelet structure for sustained performance.” For further infromation / how to apply:

  • Durham University, Chemistry Department - collaboration with Safinah Ltd - "Understanding Solvent Effects on Epoxy Networks". For further infromation / how to apply:

  • Durham University, Computing Science Department - collaboration with Distinctive Publishing Ltd - "Predictive and Prescriptive Analytics for the Media Industry". For further infromation / how to apply:

Alex Osborne (pictured) will carry out a field study in Northumberland to trial Evolto's new technology for 'listening' to rivers. The study will be carried out on Haltwhistle Burn, a rapid response catchment with a history of flash flooding. Alex said, "I'm looking forward to exploring how the sound a river makes can be used to determine channel processes. The collaboration between The Water Hub and Evolto has provided me with this opportunity to work towards a PhD and test out innovative new equipment." Dr Rebecca Hodge, Alex's supervisor at Durham University, said, "This project is an exciting opportunity to collaborate with a local company, and I look forward to seeing how the work develops."

Carissa Lloyd (pictured) will be working on a project involving the development of new synthetic methods and tool to prepare modified and novel peptide based compounds. “The collaboration between Durham and Cambridge Research Biochemicals presents an exciting opportunity for me to gain experience in both sectors, whilst providing a platform for any research completed within the University to be put into practice within an industrial setting.” Associate Professor and Carissa’s PhD supervisor Steven Cobb “Cambridge Research Biochemicals are one of the leading peptide companies in the UK. We have a long standing record of collaboration with them and it is fantastic to further strengthen our research ties with them.” Emily Humphrys, Managing Director of CRB said: “We are delighted to be supporting another PhD student with Associate Professor Steven Cobb as we are fortunate to have his accomplished Peptide Research group on our doorstep and we hope that Carissa will learn industrial techniques from a seasoned Peptide company whilst working on some peptide chemistries to improve routes and yields for commercially attractive peptides for our catalogue and the Disease research market as a whole.”

Laura Midgley is exploring the mathematics behind modern crystal structure determination. This thriving applied research area is developed by chemists and the aim of this project is to investigate it with a fresh mathematical mind. This includes developing new tools for the crystallographic software company OlexSys. Laura comments: "It's exciting to employ rigorous mathematical techniques to experimentally established methods, and we're hoping that with this fundamental viewpoint we'll be able to improve existing and to discover new methods." Her supervisor, Professor Norbert Peyerimhoff says: "Laura is ideally suited to carry out this project due to her wide knowledge in natural sciences, focussing on maths, physics, and computer science. We all enjoy learning together the beautiful maths involved in this topic."

Dr Noura Al Moubayed, academic supervisor for Tom Winterbottom at Durham University stated “Tom has a very strong mathematical and machine learning background which makes him a great fit to this project. Clicksco has shown a serious commitment to the project demonstrating a model for how academia and industry in the Northeast can work together to drive innovation in the region.” Dr Alistair McLean, CTO at Clicksco further added: At Clicksco we are developing Carbon, an intent focussed DMP that supports advertisers and publishers finding opportunities from the analysis of consented data from user browsing. We are excited to be working with Tom on discovering novel methods for combining image & natural language processing to automatically create synthetic visual ad campaigns that create a story over time and present a set of values associated with the advertiser's brand."

Michael Alexander is exploring the use of two protein biomarkers to prognose disease progression in cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma (cSCC) whilst investigating the molecular mechanisms behind changes in the biomarker expression patterns and their functional consequences. Michael said ‘ I am delighted to be undertaking this exciting research and the opportunity to promote the translation of discovery based research’ Professor of Cellular Dermatology and Oncology and Michael’s Academic supervisor Penny Lovat further added ‘ with an urgent unmet need for reliable prognostic biomarkers as well as biomarkers to guide effective surgical excision of cSCC’s, this research underpins the university strategic priorties for discovery, tranalstional and applied health research to drive’ in this case ‘personalised managment and treatment of patients with cSCC”. Marie Labus Chief Executive Officer of AMLo Biosciences said “We are delighted to support Michael as a PhD student which builds on our existing programmes of work with Professor Lovat. This project strengthens our research ties with a world leading group in dermato-oncology, advancing research knowledge in skin cancer whilst developing innovate projects to improve patient outcomes.”

PhD student, Oliver Gray is working on a project with High Force Research and supervised by Newcastle University academic Dr Mike Carroll. “Oliver's project involves working towards the development of novel diagnostic probes for use in PET imaging. This will involve looking more specifically at new synthetic methods for introducing PET labels into complicated architectures, such that novel drug-like species can be identified. Dr Neil Sim, Head of New Projects at HFR said 'High Force Research have a long-standing relationship with Newcastle University's Chemistry department, and the IIIP has provided us with another opportunity to support a graduate student in the imaging and diagnostics sector-an area in which HFR have vast experience. We are hopeful that Oliver will benefit from a project that has relevance in both an academic and industrial setting.'”

Lizzie Ruddy will be working on a research project that uses the cutting edge in-silico modeling approach developed by HexisLab to identify the extrinsic and intrinsic influences on skin aging with its ethnic-specific manifestations. Lizzie said “I am lucky to be able to work with both Newcastle University and Hexis Lab, which enables me to gain experience in both sectors. Being involved in fascinating research which aims to develop products for the “clinical luxury” market category is exciting as it will provide such a large benefit to many.” Dr Sola Idowu, CEO of HexisLabs said: “The project will enable us to gain an understanding of a significant aspect of the skincare industry that is currently underserved by major cosmetic companies. The results of this project will give us a unique competitive advantage, enabling the company to position itself as a pioneer in developing stratified and personalised skincare solutions to serve the emerging new market “clinical luxury” categories.” Prof Mark Birch-Machin, academic supervisor said: “This PhD project provides an opportunity to substantially build upon the increasing interaction which has taken place over the last few years between my research group and Dr Idowu of Hexislab.”

Pete Daykin, CEO,Wordnerds, "What do you do if the skills you need for your nascent AI business haven't been invented yet? Wordnerds combines Machine Learning with Advanced Linguistics to give brands an understanding of what their customers really think about them. However, automating the understanding of unstructured text is difficult and relatively young as a discipline. "When we reached a brick wall in how we could better find and display patterns in a corpus of text we spoke to our friends at Durham University. We'd already partnered with them on some funded projects and Noura Al-Moubayed - Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science - suggested that the specific area we were looking at was so new that it would be ideal for a PhD study. "Enter Durham graduate and - now - PhD student, Dean Slack (or PhDean, as he's known in the Wordnerds office), who has been pointing his massive brain at finding new ways of extracting hierarchical linguistic features from text data, with the aim of improving tasks such as sentiment analysis. It's early days for the relationship, but it's been an encouraging start and we're hopeful that his work will, relatively quickly, allow us to uncover relevant data sources and categorise them in our software. Doing so would be transformational after only a few months' work; imagine what we - and Dean - can achieve after three years!" Noura Al-Moubayed from Durham University added: “Wordsnerds is a unique company in the northeast in terms of their offering, approach to text understanding, and commitment to advance research in the field. Dean comes with outstanding technical abilities and an in-depth understanding of the literature, putting him in a unique position to work with Wordnerds and make significant contributions in NLP and AI.”

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