EPSRC Mobility DTP in Leadership and Excellence in Circular, Resource-efficient, Sustainable Manufacturing

One of a number of pilot programmes aimed at widening participation in Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) doctoral training, specifically those from industry and other non-academic backgrounds.

  • Funding: Four years' fees at the UK rate, maintenance stipend/salary contribution, and a Research Training Support Grant
  • Academic year: 2023/24
  • Open to: Students from the UK; non-UK applicants can also be considered for a limited number of places
  • Qualification level: Postgraduate research
  • Number available: Two

Two 4-year PhD studentships funded by the EPSRC, offered to research in Leadership and Excellence in Circular, Resource-efficient, Sustainable Manufacturing within chemical, biological and allied sciences at the University of York. 

As global population continues to increase from 7.5bn (2018) to 9.5bn (2050), coupled with increased urbanisation and industrialisation, we'll need to better (re)utilise resources to sustain our chemicals, materials and energy needs. In 2015, these concerns were recognised by the UN, who adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to protect the future of our planet and its inhabitants. SDG 12, “Sustainable Consumption and Production”, focuses on better resource utilisation, resource recovery, doing ‘more with less’ and moving from linear to circular economies.

The chemicals sector is one of the largest UK manufacturing sectors, with a turnover of £48.7bn and employs ca. 140,000 people. The UK Chemistry Council’s Chemistry Strategy highlights an emphasis on sourcing renewable raw materials, ensuring products are free from pollutants, and innovating to reduce their carbon footprint. Recent Science Innovation Audits (Northern Powerhouse: Chemical and Process Sector Science and the Bioeconomy in the North of England) highlight the importance of our chemicals and bioeconomy sectors, interconnectivity of chemistry and biology, importance of training, re- and upskilling, and continual professional development in physical and biological sciences.

To protect and enhance our assets, knowledge and infrastructure, businesses will need to transform their current practices, which are often linear and resource-depleting, in partnership with academia to develop leadership and excellence in circular, resource-efficient, sustainable manufacturing. This project explores new, inclusive and flexible pathways to doctoral training to enable mobility from industry to academia through a supportive PhD programme.


Open to students from the UK; non-UK applicants can also be considered for a limited number of places only.

The University welcomes applications from candidates who can demonstrate that they have the ability to succeed in the programme to which they have applied, and that they will benefit from and contribute to the learning, research and social environment at the University.

You can apply if you are:

  • currently employed in industry, or
  • have some industry experience in research and development (eg a Year In Industry, a work placement or previous employment) and plan to begin or return to a career in industry.

We are seeking applications from non-standard entrants (those not typically holding a first or 2.1). We will explore exceptions to academic requirements for applicants not holding at least a 2:1 (or equivalent) from their first degree on a case by case basis. Evidence of relevant work experience in the form of previous and/or current employment is highly desirable.

Students must meet the UKRI eligibility criteria for studentship funding.

We particularly encourage applications from under-represented groups, and from those with non-traditional pathways into academia.

Applicants who are currently undertaking undergraduate programmes, or have graduated with a first degree in 2023, are not eligible.

How to apply

If you're currently employed in industry, start by speaking to your line manager. If you’re not currently employed in industry, consider any industry experience you may have that could help support your application. Regardless of whether you are currently employed in industry, have been at some point in the past, or have some other industry experience such as placements or internships, your next step is to think about what research topics you might like to do, and who you would like to supervise your research (if known).

Complete the online application for a PhD in Chemistry or a PhD in Biology by the deadline. State in your application that you are applying for the EPSRC Mobility DTP in Leadership and Excellence in Circular, Resource-efficient, Sustainable Manufacturing. If you know who you want to work with, you should include the name(s) of the supervisor(s). If not, just leave this section blank.

You should include a research proposal, and a personal statement including your experience, interests and motivation for wanting to work in your chosen area. Upload your supporting documents, including CV, transcript and certificates if available. If you do not yet have these, they can be added after you have submitted your application.

Also include details of your referees - particularly their email addresses. When you submit your application, an automatic email will go to your referees requesting a reference. One reference should be from your current (or most recent) employer, and should comment on your research skills, experience, abilities and suitability for this programme. The other reference should be an academic reference from your school or university. In the event that providing an academic reference is not possible, a second professional reference will also be accepted.

How we allocate
  • Shortlisted candidates will be invited to a panel interview with members of the DTP Management Team
  • If the programme is oversubscribed, offers will be made to those who make the best case and who best fit the DTP’s principles of inclusivity of opportunity for those from non-academic backgrounds with a commitment to innovation in the area of circular, resource-efficient, sustainable manufacturing
  • Candidates will be informed of the outcome by email
Terms and conditions

Studentships are expected to start in 2023/24. A full-time studentship will be at least three (and no more than four) years in duration.

The value of this funding will cover:

  • Four years fees (UK rate)
  • A stipend at the UKRI minimum (£18,622 in 2023/24) which can be used flexibly to reflect each candidate’s circumstances, for example:
    • Paid to the student as a maintenance stipend in the event they are not currently in employment, or
    • Paid to the employer as a contribution to a student's salary if the student remains in employment
  • RTSG (Research Training Support Grant) to cover additional costs of training, eg courses, project costs, conferences or travel

Contact details

Biology Postgraduate Admissions


Chemistry Graduate Office



Victor Zanchi, DTP Researcher

I'm a York Chemistry alum, and after graduation went straight into Industry at Reckitt. My experience has been a mixture of regulatory affairs, including registration of medicines, classification and labelling of products; and computer systems and data to support these, as well as associated business processes. In the last three years, I've been in the Corporate Affairs and Sustainability team, focusing on Product Sustainability across Reckitt's portfolio, and discovered my passion and purpose.

I’ve long wanted to go back and do a Masters or a PhD, and this DTP gives me the opportunity to learn in an area I’m passionate about, while also having an immediate impact by applying my research into my work in driving sustainable product development. More importantly, I hope it will create connections at both a personal and organisational level, and foster collaborative partnerships crucial to solving social and environmental challenges ahead.

Oliver Price (Employer), Global Head of Product Sustainability and Stewardship

It is fantastic that the University of York and EPSRC are piloting new ways to engage Industry scientists to undertake doctoral training via the mobility DTPs. The opportunity for our industry colleagues to partner with thought leaders to further develop approaches to circular, resource-efficient and sustainable manufacturing is of particular interest. At Reckitt, sustainability is central to our purpose to protect, heal and nurture in the relentless pursuit of a cleaner, healthier world. We are delighted that one of our colleagues has been selected in the initial intake to further develop and advance the tools we use to guide sustainable innovation.

Biorenewables Development Centre

Darren Phillips, DTP Researcher 

I graduated from the University of York in 2008 with an MChem in Chemistry, Biological and Medicinal Chemistry. After graduation, I worked in a variety of industry roles ranging from product development, manufacturing and research. In 2013, I began working at the Biorenewables Development Centre (BDC) where I discovered an area of science I was passionate about, the bioeconomy.

My research area is best described as the utilisation of bio-based resources to recover components of value e.g proteins, sugars, flavours and fragrances. My research has explored a range of novel processing technologies to improve process efficiency as well as developing and scaling-up processes from benchtop to pilot scale.

The flexible programme offered as part of this DTP scheme is a fantastic opportunity to gain a greater depth of knowledge in a specialised area of the biorenewables sector and participate in industry-driven, applied research at a world recognised university. The flexibility of the programme allows me to continue to work at the BDC whilst studying for a PhD.

Joe Ross (Employer), Director

The Biorenewables Development Centre is delighted to have a member of staff taking part in the University of York and EPSRC pilot scheme allowing people with an industry background to undertake a PhD. This will benefit the individual involved, our centre and, we hope, the wider University of York doctoral training cohort through the experience we can bring to share with colleagues. 

The BDC is focused upon the bioeconomy, and this aligns very well with the overall aims of the pilot scheme. The flexibility being offered by EPSRC makes the scheme particularly attractive, and we have been able to define a programme of work and other contractual arrangements that work well for the individual and the BDC. We very much hope the pilot evolves into a longer-term strand of doctoral training in the UK.

Anaero Technology

Rashmi Deshpande, DTP researcher

My background is Biotechnology, which led me to be interested in Environmental Sciences. I was introduced to the world of anaerobic digestion when I started working at Anaero Technology Ltd in 2015. In my current role as a Senior Research Scientist at Anaero, I work on a range of projects involving anaerobic digestion of food waste, agricultural residues, agro-industrial waste and other novel feedstocks.

My research interest is mainly focused on exploitation of renewable resources for high-value chemicals and bioenergy production. I intend to use fermentation and anaerobic digestion to afford selected bio-based chemicals and explore the nature and biogas potential of the selected agricultural residues. I am also interested in exploring physical, chemical and biochemical methods to deconstruct selected lignocellulosic feedstock to extract bio-based chemicals and bioenergy.

This DTP programme has given me a chance to apply my acquired experience to address a scientific challenge which not only will maximise the outputs of anaerobic digestion but also advances the field creating new opportunities in bioenergy production and green chemistry. Participating in the DTP programme will help me to equip myself with new knowledge and skills needed to take up leadership roles in my field of work helping me in my overall professional development.

The flexibility of the DTP programme allows me to have one foot in academia and the other foot in industry which gives a fresh perspective to carry out my research. In the future, I hope to make use of this great opportunity the programme has provided to update my knowledge and learn new techniques and continue my passion to learn and explore.

Our Staff

Jen Gibbard, DTP Admin Manager

I’m the admin lead on this fantastic new DTP and will be excited to welcome you if you’re considering becoming involved. I work with prospective applicants and current students, as well as their employers and also liaise with our funding partners and other stakeholders. 

Talk to me about any aspect of this programme; I can help with anything - all the way from pre-application to graduation. You’ll find me in the Graduate Office in the Department of Chemistry, and can reach me on chemgrad@york.ac.uk.

  1. A co-created 'Person-specific doctoral learning contract' (PSDLC) - a personalised learning agreement designed to suit the needs of the individual, employer and academic supervisor. Projects will be industrially driven via our project partners, thereby boosting economic growth.
  2. Support mechanisms that encourage peer learning and reflection. Cohort meetings will be scheduled frequently to discuss issues specific to the industrial students and identify areas for improvement. Similarly, a two-way mentoring scheme (academic student/industrial student) will also be implemented, allowing both students to benefit from the other’s experience.
  3. Flexible, credit-bearing in-house and virtual CPD modules.
  4. Mechanisms that reward accredited prior experiential learning that fast-track MPhil and PhD exit points incorporated in a bespoke PhD programme supported by the university Graduate School and developed with our professional body partners.
  5. Structures and mechanisms that encourage recruitment, retention and progression of under-represented minorities, such as BAME, within the scientific and industrial environment. Equality, diversity and inclusivity will be embedded throughout. Both departments of Chemistry and Biology are Athena Swan Gold Award holders.

The University strives to be diverse and inclusive – a place where we can ALL be ourselves.

We particularly encourage applications from people who identify as Black, Asian or from a Minority Ethnic background, who are underrepresented at the University.

We offer family friendly, flexible working arrangements, with forums and inclusive facilities to support our staff. #EqualityatYork

It is anticipated that most projects will be supervised or co-supervised by one or more of the following academic staff, who comprise the DTP Management Team. Applicants, however, are also encouraged to consider any other appropriate supervisors and co-supervisors in addition to those listed below. Use our Find An Expert resource or search the university website for members of academic staff with research interests that align with yours.

All applications will be considered by the below-named group in the first instance:

Where an applicant has named another member of staff as a prospective supervisor, or when an applicant has been unable to identify someone, help and advice will be provided in order that suitable supervision arrangements can be made.

For more information, please contact chemgrad@york.ac.uk