Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships

Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS II) is a major pan-Wales operation supported by European Social Funds (ESF) through the Welsh Government which links companies and organisation with academic expertise in the Higher Education sector in Wales to undertake collaborative research projects. Following the highly successful KESS project between 2009 and 2014, KESS II is now in the second round of funding and will provide 645 scholarship over the course of the operation.

What type of organisations can participate?

A range of companies and organisations can participate in KESS II, including Micro companies, SMEs, Large companies, Third Sector and Social Enterprises. To be eligible you must have an operational presence in the Convergence region (West Wales and the Valleys). All KESS scholarships are integrated with a high-level skills training programme for the participating student, leading to a Postgraduate Skills Development Award, which will address any knowledge gaps. Any proposed research project must also demonstrate an on-going benefit to the Convergence area at the application stage.

Why Choose KESS II

Each project is specifically designed to meet your company's needs. The project is then carried out by a dedicated student at Research Masters or PhD level, who is supported by both the company and the relevant University. Here are just some of the benefits of participating in KESS II:

  • The opportunity to test claims, perceptions and experiences regarding your product, service or brand.
  • Research that you can shape, with the support of an academic, to suit your company needs.
  • Position your organisation as a voice of authority and market leader in your sector.
  • A dedicated student, supervised by an academic, to work on a area specific to your business.
  • Very low entry cost for the potential return your project could bring.


Research projects must also fit with the Welsh Government's priority sectors:

  • ICT & Digital Economy
    • Example Project: Global digital tourism practice and economic development for UNESCO World Heritage Sites
  • Life Sciences & Health
    • Example Project: Development of innovative technologies in women's health for clinical diagnosis of infertility and gynaecological cancer
  • Low Carbon, Energy & Environment
    • Example Project: Breeding blight resistant potatoes
  • Advanced Engineering and Manufacturing
    • Example Project: Development of products for controlled releasing topical and transdermal drugs using nano/micro-encapsulation and micro-needles

How much will it cost?

Partner Organisations are required to make cash contributions. Costs will vary depending on the size and type of organisation:

Type of organisationNo. of employeesCash Contribution *
Micro <10 £3.5k
Small <50 £3.5k
Medium <250 £4k
Large >250 £4.5k
Third Sector   Dependent on size
Public Sector   £4.5k

* Cash contributions are subject to VAT

KESSII is part-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) through the European Union’s Convergence programme administered by the Welsh Government.

*The Convergence area covers West Wales and the Valleys, and is made up of the following 15 local authorities: Isle of Anglesey, Gwynedd, Conwy, Denbighshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Swansea, Neath Port Talbot, Bridgend, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Merthyr Tydfil, Caerphilly, Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen.