6 - Financing

6.3 - Involving Companies in the financing of Doctorate programmes


Doctoral theses are commonly associated with the early stages of research work and therefore offer an interesting area of opportunity for companies to become involved in research projects from the start. The main aim of this section is to recommend that companies take part in the funding of doctoral programmes in universities as a means of finding new opportunities to enhance their R&D&i potential.

Grants for doctoral theses. Individual companies can create scholarships for doctoral thesis research groups working in fields which offer the greatest potential for increasing their business opportunities. These grants should be designed by taking into account the specific needs of the Company, which can either make its own decisions on the content of the project, as well as the research candidate and the amount of funding, or do so jointly with the University. The University would, in turn, provide the infrastructure, access to knowledge, a team of researchers and the laboratory equipment required to develop the doctoral thesis, whilst the company finances and oversees the work. It is very important that the property rights of the results and methodology used for monitoring the work is managed in a way which is satisfactory for both parties from the onset of the process.

Although thesis projects are usually concerned with the early stages of a research project, during the years which elapse until their publication various other lines of investigation could arise and be pursued in parallel to the core work of the assignment. This alternative work may well lead to new collaborative projects.

Doctoral recruitment programmes. Companies can create specific recruitment programmes for doctors who have just completed their theses, thereby encouraging them to carry out their post-doctoral research projects in-house. These projects often require additional investment from the company, since the costs of employing a Phd are greater than those of a graduate or a student undertaking their doctorate. However, these additional expenses can offer significant benefits in terms of productivity and added value for the Company, since candidates have more experience and expertise in the fields in which they have developed their doctorate.

Awards for theses which solve real problems. With such an initiative, companies could create awards for the doctoral thesis which offers the best approach to solving real problems in a specific productive sector. The award should preferably be granted to a research group or a university as a whole so as to attain a level of involvement which is institutional rather than individual. Any such prize could be complemented by a number of features which are beneficial to the company’s image and prestige, such as sponsorship agreements, institutional events for the award ceremony, or press releases. An example of this practice can be found at the University of Padua (Italy), where the regional Chamber of Commerce offers awards of this kind.

Implementation process

Agents required for implementation

The following recommendation requires an agreement between Universities and Companies.

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  1. Collaborative doctoral education- University- Industry partnerships for enhancing knowledge exchange. (EUA).
  2. Based on an award for theses which offer real solutions to problems in the productive sector.: Benchmarking Industry and Science relationships.OECD)- UK.
  3. www.unid.it/ - Awards for innovative theses.
  4. http://www.vi.camcom.it - Vicenza Chamber of Commerce.