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.


Research projects must 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


Project proposals need to be scoped by a Aberystwyth University academic and a company partner – with the project focusing on addressing a company need.

To be eligible for ESF funding projects must adhere to the following criteria :

  • Be scoped in partnership with a company partner.
  • Project activity must be in the convergence region of Wales or East Wales.
  • The company partner will have to contribute an annual cash contribution (cash contributions are subject to VAT):
    • West MPhil/MRes: £3,750 - £4,750 (depending on company size).
    • East PhD: £5,500 - £7,000 (depending on company size)
    • East MPhil/MRes: £5,500 - £7,000 (depending on company size)
  • Projects must fit within one of the WG grand challenge areas.
  • Must lead to a Masters by Research; MRes or PhD qualification. A student must not already hold a degree at this level beforehand.
  • Must be completed in 3.5 years for PhD; 1year 3 months for Research Masters.

Once proposed projects have been approved, a scholarship will be offered.


The scholarship offers the eligible participant (student) :

  • A monthly stipend in line with RCUK rates : 3 years of funding @ £14,628 per year for PhD; one year funding @ £11,702 for Research Masters.
  • University tuition fees are waived by Aberystwyth University.
  • An opportunity to access a suite of higher level skills training and attendance at a residential KESS Grad School. All participants must complete the KESS Postgraduate Skills Development Award.
  • A minimum of 30 days a year working with the company partner on their allocated project.
  • Standard KESS budget for other research project related costs (travel, consumables and equipment).
  • Student must complete and submit their thesis in 3.5 years for PhD; 1year 3 months for Research Masters.

Applicants should be resident in the relevant region of Wales on appointment, and should have the right to work in the region on qualification.


What is the next deadline for Project Proposals?

East Wales MPhil and MRes project applications are open.

No Further PhD places are available for West Wales. West MPhil and MRes applications can be submitted at any time.


What are the benefits of KESS for University Departments?

The University Departments will benefit through additional PhD and Research Masters Students. A larger pool of Research Masters students will create a larger number of students available to apply for PhD's within the department. In addition to this by forging successful links with local companies could lead to future collaborations and research projects.

KESS II company fact sheets are available as follows:

KESS 2 Company Factsheet (West)  KESS 2 Company Factsheet (East)


 KESS2 & Sustainability 

The KESS2 project is comitted to operating in a sustainable manner. We are working towards ensuring that our team, students and all of our partners are able to demonstrate that we are giving meaningful consideration to the well-being of current and future generations in all we do, so that we can live, work and create a Wales we all want. For futher details, please visit the Sustainability pages of the KESS2 website.



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