KESS 2 Company Partners

KESS 2 and KESS 2 East are providing funded PhD and Research Masters opportunities across Wales until the end of December 2023. Both programmes are supported by European Social Funds (ESF) through the Welsh Government and involve all universities in Wales, led by Bangor University. Following the successful first KESS programme (2009-2014), KESS 2 and KESS 2 East will provide over 645 scholarships during their operational periods.

KESS 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 which are: Life Sciences & Health; Advanced Engineering & Materials; Low Carbon, Energy & Environment; ICT & the Digital Economy.

“The KESS 2 grant was an excellent opportunity for us to bring on board a young researcher. It brings enormous benefits. We’re made aware of opportunities, new pieces of equipment, new elements of funding, changes in legislation and changes in the way the Welsh Government approach things. We become aware of these simply by the interaction.”

Dr Andy Pitman, Lignia Wood

For business owners and managers one of the greatest benefits is being able to focus skills towards a research area related to their business – something that is often not possible without costly additional resource. The positive publicity and associations around KESS 2 projects often mean that businesses have had an excellent return on their investment long before the research results are published, or their impact felt. Feedback from previous participants show that companies really value the link they build with the universities, and this has often led to other collaborations.

The benefits of KESS 2 for companies

KESS 2 projects are a valuable opportunity to have a postgraduate researcher work on an area specific to a business. There are many benefits for KESS 2 company partners including:

  • Developing a research culture within their organisation
  • Positioning their organisation as a voice of authority and market leader in their sector
  • Testing claims, perceptions and experiences regarding their product, service, or brand
  • Establishing and maintaining valuable links with their local university
  • Attracting and supporting the development of new researchers in their company
  • Taking advantage of the very low entry cost for the potential return the project could bring

Company partners across Wales

A range of companies and organisations can participate in KESS 2, including Micro Companies, SMEs, Large Companies, Third Sector and Social Enterprises. KESS 2 has 453 companies on its database who have been actively involved with the project and 61% of organisations participating in KESS 2 are SMEs. Our recently collated Company Partner Map illustrates the broad coverage of company partners we have collaborated with from across Wales to-date, with this number increasing as new projects are conceived and initiated.

What is expected of a KESS 2 company partner?

  • That the company has an operational base within the Convergence Area of Wales (click to view map) for KESS 2 (West) projects or in East Wales (areas not included in the Convergence Area) for KESS 2 East projects.
  • That a company supervisor is able to participate in quarterly progress meetings and complete progress reports.
  • That the company can provide a minimum of 30 days placement per year for the postgraduate researcher at the company, subject to agreement between the company and academic supervisors. This can be flexible depending on the project.
  • That a company representative can supervise the postgraduate researcher whilst they are on placement within the company.

There is no obligation to employ your KESS 2 scholar at the end of the research, although this would be an excellent outcome for the project.

Who owns the Project Results (IPR)?

In order to demonstrate compliance with State Aid rules, project IPR results and any Intellectual Property arising from a KESS 2 project will be owned by the relevant university. Background IP used in connection with the KESS 2 project will remain the property of the party introducing it and will be subject to confidentiality obligations. The relevant university will grant the company partner the first option for either an exclusive or non-exclusive licence to use the Intellectual Property or other IPR generated through the project as negotiated between the parties involved.

Higher-level skills training for the postgraduate researcher

All KESS 2 scholarships have an embedded integrated higher-level skills training programme for the participating student, leading to a Postgraduate Skills Development Award, which addresses any knowledge or skills gaps identified.