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NERC Consultancy Innovation Programme

Part of the Edinburgh Earth and Environment Doctoral Training Partnership - funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

ECCI delivers the business and public policy-facing component of the programme.

NERC Consultancy Innovation Programme logo

Based at the University of Edinburgh, NERC E4 DTP brings together 28 partners and more than 200 supervisors. Collectively, their research expertise spans the full spectrum of earth and environmental sciences.

What E4 DTP offers

The programme is led by the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences, and offers the following:

  • An outstanding research environment with world-leading researchers and research facilities.
  • A multidisciplinary and collaborative approach.
  • The promotion of transferable skills, with access to internships, facilities and training.
  • A concentration of resources in the Edinburgh region.


As an E4 DTP student, you can get a fully-funded PhD studentship for a minimum of 3.5 years (42 months). It covers stipend and fees as well as research costs.

“The project has helped me to see the advantages of doctoral training in solving a range of critical problems outside of an academic context.”' Andrew, NERC E3 DTP student

ECCI’S NERC Consultancy Innovation Programme

As part of our work with NERC, ECCI delivers the NERC Consultancy Innovation Programme. It aims to generate industry and policy engagement, while making the most of innovation opportunities.

Focused engagement with business and policy

E4 students are matched with entrepreneurs and various other research users, including government teams, working in NERC priority areas.

Training and skills in impact and innovation

We give E4 staff and students a good overview of UK innovation systems. We also deliver skills and industry workshops, designed to boost their confidence when engaging with non-academic partners.

Provision of sector knowledge to support impact and end user experience

We help E4 staff and students grasp the big issues as well as research-related/career opportunities in NERC priority areas.

“I learnt a lot of skills that I can use in my PhD, especially in communication/research presentation. Skills that will help me get a job!” Lauren, NERC E3 DTP student

Host a PhD student with expert research skills

Are you a start-up, SME or third sector organisation looking for PhD student support?

ECCI has just launched its successful innovation programme again for 2022/23 - the NERC Consultancy Innovation programme.

Results from the 2021/22 cohort

Host organisations included Cloudforest, OnGen, SilviBio, Kinetic Hydro, AstroAgency, Environment Systems, Scottish Carbon Capture & Storage Finished, Waterwhelm and Seawater Solutions.

Feedback was very positive:

  • The students confirmed that the internship will be useful for their future career and this programme gave them an opportunity that would have been difficult to find elsewhere.
  • The duration and timescale of the placements worked well for them, especially the flexibility to work around their busy study and fieldwork schedules
  • All the companies agreed that the placements added value to their business.
  • Most of the companies registered interest in hosting a placement in the future.

Quotes from students, 2021/22 programme:

“This was an excellent opportunity! I was able to put myself out there and try something I know little about. This was also a great time to do this internship, as now I can look into developing the skills I learned over the next few years to mean that I could pursue a career in this area, something I had not considered before.”

“I enjoyed working on my project a lot. It helped me to make new contacts, learned new skills and gained experience working with a startup company.”

“The NERC Innovation Programme gave me a valuable opportunity to my skills in a new and interesting context and allowed me to engage with policy review for the first time.”

Quotes host organisations, 2021/22 programme:

“Our intern from the NERC Innovation Programme proved to be a real asset to our business by providing specialist knowledge and insight during a large project. They quickly became a valued member of our team and offered a valuable outside perspective on our work.”

“We couldn't have asked for more from our NERC student internship. The project was very easy to setup in the first instance, and when (student) came on-board she worked independently and efficiently and produced work of an excellent quality. The research that she delivered will be of lasting value to the company.”

“Our NERC intern brought fresh eyes and good time management and responsive delivery to our project.”

“The internship programme was a valuable experience that helped de-risk the exploration of novel satellite lidar datasets. The student brought valuable insights to our business, and, in return, we helped them understand how scientific data and knowledge can be utilised outside of academia.”

Want to know more?

To find out more about NERC E4 DTP, have a look at the University of Edinburgh website.