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Data Case Study: NERC Consultancy Innovation Programme

ECCI’s NERC Consultancy Innovation Programme connects businesses, SMEs and third sector organisations with a NERC-funded PhD student, to undertake meaningful research projects connected to climate change.

A total of 13 internships were successfully delivered in 2022/23, matching PhD candidates with a range of industry partners in NERC priority areas.

Climate change data

With a focus on geosciences, the students' areas of expertise included: mapping and modelling, extreme weather events, climate risk and adaptation, land use and agriculture, global food systems and behaviour change – and a significant number of the placements were focused on reviewing, refining, processing and interpreting data connected to climate change.

PropEco - an SME that generates in-depth assessments of UK homes to determine its energy efficiency, upgrade options and current and future risk exposure – worked with Lokesh Jain, of the Cryosphere Research Group, at the University of Edinburgh's School of GeoSciences, to undertake a review of flooding research and flood modelling methodology. Chris Hardman, Founder of PropEco, said: “The PhD placement was incredibly positive, with high-quality outputs that exceeded our expectations.”

Whereas, Yazhini Vinoth Kumar, from the Institute of Infrastructure and Environment in the University of Edinburgh's School of Engineering, worked with Wave Energy Scotland to produce a report on data collection recommendations for Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) accounting of the carbon emissions of wave energy devices. Set up by the Scottish Government in 2014, Wave Energy Scotland (WES) is tasked with driving the search for innovative solutions to the technical challenges facing the wave energy sector.

Mark Howie, Chief Engineer at Global Surface Intelligence, also sought the skills of a NERC PhD candidate. GSI provides satellite data analytics as a service to measure forestry, agriculture and land across the world - the placement was focused on a literature review of remote sensing technologies that may be applicable to assessing small trees.

The NERC Consultancy Innovation Programme provided a way for us as a company to progress some early-stage R&D in an efficient and effective manner. The process was light touch and appropriate for this level of work. Our PhD student was excellent. I would not hesitate to use this programme again.” - Mark Howie, Chief Engineer of Global Surface Intelligence
“I had a great experience - working behind upcoming wave-energy technology that has potential for hugely positive environmental impact. The placement provided me with good exposure and an opportunity to use technical skills at an industrial scale.” - PhD candidate Yazhini Vinoth Kumar

Submit project proposals

Are you a start-up, SME or third sector organisation? Looking for some PhD student support at no cost?

As well as data analysis, placements can include any research, consultancy or development activity connected to climate change which draw on the expert skills of PhD students within the The Edinburgh Earth, Ecology and Environment Doctoral Training Partnership (E4 DTP), led by the School of GeoSciences.

  • All internships are fully funded, with no cost to the business, and run from November 2023 - May 2024.
  • Placements may be conducted in parts remotely.
  • The placement duration is 10 days over maximum 10 weeks.

Complete the simple online application by Tuesday 7 November.