About KESS 2 (West Wales)

Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS 2) is a major pan-Wales operation supported by European Social Funds (ESF) through the Welsh Government. KESS 2 links companies and organisations with academic expertise in the Higher Education sector in Wales to undertake collaborative research projects, working towards a PhD or Research Masters qualification. Research elements are integrated with a higher-level skills training programme, leading to a Postgraduate Skills Development Award.

KESS 2 involves all universities in Wales, and is led by Bangor University. Following the highly successful KESS project between 2009 and 2014, KESS 2 is now in the second round of funding and will provide 645 scholarships over the course of six years.

The key objectives of KESS 2 are:

  • To increase the research capacity of small to medium enterprises (SMEs) by linking with a PhD / Research Masters project
  • To encourage SMEs to undertake research and recruit researchers
  • To prepare and train individuals to contribute to research as professionals
  • To support the development of key technologies in the Convergence Area of Wales
  • To promote higher-level skills development

WG Grand Challenge AreasKESS 2 projects are unique in that they are tailored to provide exciting and innovative research whilst meeting the needs of an active business or its sector. The research undertaken through a KESS 2 project must fit with one of the Welsh Government’s four Grand Challenge Areas:

  • Life Sciences & Health
  • Advance Engineering & Materials
  • Low Carbon, Energy & Environment
  • ICT & the Digital Economy

As part of the Welsh Government’s ‘Well-being of Future Generations Act (2015)’ KESS 2 ensures that our team and all our partners are able to demonstrate that we are giving meaningful consideration to the well-being of current and future generations in all that we do.

Read more about our commitment to sustainability and the well-being of future generations.

3 Core Components

The three core components of a KESS 2 scholarship.

KESS 2 Facts

  • KESS 2 is a £36 million pan-Wales project supported by ESF funds through the Welsh Government
  • The project is led by Bangor University on behalf of the HE sector in Wales
  • All universities in Wales are participating in the project
  • The project is externally evaluated
  • KESS 2 will provide 645 funded scholarships over 6 years (PhDs: 335, Research Masters: 310)

KESS 2 is unique in the way it uses European Social Funds (ESF) to support higher-level skills development:

Each project has an integrated higher-level skills training and development programme, leading to a Postgraduate Skills Development Award (PSDA).

The project is tracking people who complete KESS 2 studentships so as to gather meaningful destination data for the region via focused case studies.

We have a strong KESS Alumni network, comprising of scholars and company partners, operating through a LinkedIn group. We plan to develop this network for a mentoring programme during the lifetime of KESS 2.

Each project works in collaboration with a company/organisation based in the Convergence Area of West Wales and the Valleys.

Click here to see a Map of the Convergence Area (link opens in a new tab)

KESS 2 Stats

KESS 2 Stats61% of organisations participating in KESS 2 are SMEs

KESS 2 has 380 companies/organisations on its database who have been actively involved with the project

Distribution amongst the priority sectors:

  • 50% Life Sciences & Health
  • 20% Low Carbon, Energy & Environment
  • 17% ICT & the Digital Economy
  • 11% Advance Engineering & Materials
  • 2% Other


KESS 2 Extras

Every KESS 2 scholar attends a residential KESS Grad School to work on business- related training and development activities. Through the European Universities Association (EUA) we’ve established the European Industrial Doctoral School (E.I.D.S.), which means we can work with partner universities across Europe and offer transnational opportunities to our KESS 2 scholars and company partners.

KESS 2 has also established a bilingual doctoral training and development portal through Skills Forge for use by all of the participating universities whereby opportunities can be open to all involved in the project.

Company Partners

company partner mapKESS 2 and KESS 2 East are proud to enable and support excellent standards of R&D for a vast number of businesses across Wales. Want to know how many companies we work with? Have a look at this interactive map of all our company partners, listed A-Z :

View Map