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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

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.

2023/23 programme

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

Feedback was very positive, with all PhD participants confirming that the internship will be useful for their future career and 90% reporting that they learned new skills (including report writing, writing case studies, data management, time management, software analysis, organising an event, programming, networking and presenting).

“Taking part in the NERC E4 DTP Consultancy Innovation Programme allowed me to experience an environment where science with a real world impact is created." - PhD candidate

All the host organisations agreed that the placements added value to their business and almost all would host another placement in the future. Placements included:

Craft Prospect

A space technology practice, developing novel spacecraft systems in the areas of artificial intelligence and quantum technology. The aim of the placement was the creation of a framework for developing forecasting models using artificial intelligence, with the focus on forecasting wildfire.

Global Surface Intelligence

GSI provide forest analytics using freely available high-resolution satellite imagery over large spatial scales. The placement investigated the potential of remote sensing to monitor forest plantations less than 15 years old.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Kew Gardens is a botanic garden in southwest London. Their mission is to understand and protect plants and fungi, for the wellbeing of people and the future of all life on Earth. This placement focussed on researching Malagasy grassland orchids to help understand and conserve Malagasy grassland ecosystems.

Wave Energy Scotland

Wave Energy Scotland is driving the search for innovative solutions to the technical challenges facing the wave energy sector. The placement provided input to WES on how carbon emissions calculations and life cycle analysis can be included in the project assessment process.

“The NERC 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.” - Host organisation

What E4 DTP offers

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.

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

Want to know more?

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