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Funded PhD Opportunity

i to I - impact to Intelligence

Subject: Business and Management Studies


As organisations respond to increasingly rapid environmental change they seek solutions for faster decision making, efficiency, cost savings, operational management and setting strategic direction.  For many, embarking on this process of business improvement leads to the discovery that they lack the resources to future proof the business for moving forward in a sustainable manner.  Going beyond internal capability, support is often sought from external sources, such as through consultancy, recruitment, and University collaborations.

This project focuses on the role of technology and knowledge transfer from University to Business to ascertain the impact for all stakeholders. Knowledge (technology) transfer projects have gained momentum in recent years to encourage businesses to improve business competitveness and productivity through partnerships with academics and researchers, helping businesses to innovate and grow.  In Northern Ireland funding support is provided by sources such as Invest NI and Intertrade Ireland in the form of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) and FUSION grants.

These grants provide financial, administrative help in forming connections to join organisations with suitable academic partners to enable a business to bring new skills and the latest academic research and thinking to deliver a specific, strategic innovation project.  There are currently 738 live KTP projects in the UK, 62 of which are based in Northern Ireland and 251 FUSION projects (North-South collaborations). The success of knowledge transfer projects is well publicised; however little is known on the long-term benefits as companies who have received this support in the past have been known to struggle in the future with some failing to survive.

This PhD project will seek to address this gap and thus focus on the longer term impact of knowledge and technology transfer with input from current and past participant organisations, academics and graduates employed.  Large scale data sets (of Knowledge Transfer Projects) will be analysed with a range of data analytical techniques employed (such as regression analysis, factor analysis, sentiment analysis, performance metrics) to explore the statistical impact of knowledge transfer.  Based on the quantitative results, a number of stakeholders will be selected for qualitative investigation, to gain rich thick explanatory data thus utilising a mixed methods research methodology.

It is anticipated that this PhD research will provide new insight into the longitudinal impact of knowledge (technology) transfer, beyond the funded timeframe.  Statistical information on the impact immediate to project completion, and longer term (over 5 years, 10 years, 20 years and beyond) supported by stakeholder interviews and commentary will enable us to ascertain the key benefits of the knowledge transfer process which are currently underknown and perhaps underestimated.

Both Invest NI and Intertrade Ireland have outlined support for this PhD project and interest in the results from both a policy and practice perspective.  The findings will also appeal to organisations considering knowledge transfer undertaking, those who have previously engaged and those seeking to maximise impact of University collaborations (including academic partners and Graduates). Long-term impact of knowledge (technology) transfer to optimise business intelligence and promote sustainable operations and strategic direction is an area worthy of PhD research.

Essential criteria

  • Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC)
  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal
  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement
  • Research proposal of 2000 words detailing aims, objectives, milestones and methodology of the project

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • Masters at 65%


    Vice Chancellors Research Scholarships (VCRS)

    The scholarships will cover tuition fees and a maintenance award of £14,777 per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). Applications are invited from UK, European Union and overseas students.


    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £ 14,777 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fees component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided).  For Non EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK.

Other information

The Doctoral College at Ulster University

Key dates

Submission deadline
Monday 18 February 2019

Interview Date
week commencing 11 March 2019


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Contact supervisor

Dr Sandra Moffett

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