31 Scottish industry PhD studentships in chemistry

26 September 2008

In a groundbreaking new initiative, ScotCHEM, Chemical Sciences Scotland (CSS) and the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) today announced the creation of 31 new PhD studentships in Chemistry to work on challenges and opportunities identified by Scotland's 3.5bn chemical industry.

SFC and the seven universities involved in ScotCHEM (Strathclyde, Glasgow, Heriot-Watt, Edinburgh, St Andrews, Dundee and Aberdeen) are investing 1.8 million over 3 years in this collaborative initiative.

This partnership between universities and the chemicals industry provides a unique opportunity for Chemistry graduates, who will split their time between university and industry placements, to understand the needs of industry. The partnership helps to foster closer ties between Scotland's outstanding chemistry research community and its successful chemical industry and contributes to the Scottish Government's purpose of sustainable economic growth.

Prof Chris Gilmore, Director of ScotCHEM commented, "The Chemistry Departments in Scottish universities have a long tradition of working in partnership with industry but this level of commitment from Government and the Scottish Funding Council raises the stakes in a very significant way and the financial model of the grants encourages companies that have hitherto had no university contact to look for academic partners in Scotland to carry out research of mutual interest. I know of no similar scheme anywhere in the western world and it underlines Scotland's commitment to innovation".

Dr Sandy Dobbie, Chairman of Chemical Sciences Scotland, said, "Today's announcement marks a step-change in developing deeper collaboration between our universities and the chemicals industry. By encouraging our research base to focus on industry issues and opportunities, we can improve our global competitiveness and develop new technologies that can be exploited by companies operating from Scotland. We are starting a journey that will have a profound effect and the support from the Scottish Funding Council and the universities for this new programme is superb".

Speaking on behalf of SFC, Mark Batho, Chief Executive, said: "I am pleased that we can support Scottish universities involved in ScotCHEM, a Council 'research pooling' investment. This collaborative initiative with Scotland's chemical industry has much potential for creating innovation and economic growth for Scotland. These studentships demonstrate the commitment universities have to working with industry. The students will benefit greatly from working directly in industry and, in turn, the Universities will benefit from the knowledge the students bring back to the Chemistry departments".

The Scottish Government welcomed the new programme. Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Fiona Hyslop, said, "Ensuring universities are responsive to the needs of industry is central to our purpose of increasing sustained economic growth which will benefit everyone in Scotland - as recently recognised by the Joint Future Thinking Taskforce on universities. That requires more science innovation and collaboration so that knowledge and skills are better used and focused on growth in key sectors - and these new PhDs will do just that. This exciting new initiative will help small businesses prosper and give students a real insight into the needs of the chemical industry as they develop their expertise. It is a great example of what such partnerships can achieve." 

Dr Richard Pike, Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry, also welcomed the funding of the PhD places, saying "Scotland places greater emphasis on good teaching of the mathematically-based sciences than anywhere else in the UK. Having PhD students engage with companies in this way combines the best of this theoretical grounding with the understanding of the longer-term industrial research needs of the country."

Contact and Further Information

Picture of Bristow  Muldoon

Bristow Muldoon
Scottish Parliamentary Liaison Officer
Tel: +44 (0) 131 240 2787