SEPnet’s Doctoral Training Network for Small to Medium Size Enterprises

Funding a PhD with a university can be a highly effective way of conducting research & development but the cost of research for knowledge-based SMEs can be prohibitive. By building an SME Doctoral Training Network (SME-DTN) we are creating a critical mass of research to support both regional industries and national science priorities.

We recruit PhD students from diverse backgrounds to carry out industry-relevant research in areas such as:
• condensed matter physics
• numerical modelling
• gaming
• AI
• data science
• quantum technologies
• medical imaging
• photonic materials & devices
• sensors.

Companies will share costs of each PhD studentship with a SEPnet university partner and work with academics to shape projects in line with each company’s business strategy. The first PhD students will be recruited in October 2021.

Do you have an industry-relevant research project? We want to hear from you! To discuss your project, email:

See here for SEPnet’s successful pilot scheme in Radiation Detection (RADnet).

Testimonials from students, employers and academics

Kerri Loughney, RADnet Surrey PhD student

“Being part of RADnet as a student means that I’ve got close contact with the industrial partners, I’ve got an understanding of the industrial benefits to the work that I’m doing and the rewarding feeling of knowing that the work I’m doing will be of benefit. Along with the research there’s the benefit of resources, whether its knowledge or access to equipment as well as the potential to improve other personal skills such as time management and communication skills from keeping the sponsors up to date with work and arranging meetings.

I previously studied Applied Physics at St Mary’s University in Twickenham then continued there to complete a Master of Research (part time) on the application of cosmic ray muons for the imaging of railway tunnels using scintillation detectors. I applied to the RADnet PhD out of interest in the topic, the links with industry and it felt like a natural progression from the work undertaken during my MRes. It’s a huge benefit to have active industrial supervisors, being able to work with them and bounce ideas off them is a great resource to have during a project like this.”

Nicolo Tuccori, RADnet Sussex PhD student

“I graduated at the University of Padua, working at my master thesis at the Center for Nuclear Sciences and Technologies in Lisbon. I chose the Radiation Detection Doctoral Network 2019 PhD Studentship at the University of Sussex because it offered me work in a stirring collaboration between academic world and leading multinational companies and to apply radiation detection and measurement to an interdisciplinary application, close to everyday life.

To date I feel that I have benefited greatly from this project. I had the possibility to increase rapidly my scientific knowledge and professional skills thanks to university modules and workshops. Moreover, I can also discover the companies’ world and plan the future work of our collaboration, starting to think how to exploit efficiently for this purpose the university research excellence.”

Jim Telfer, Hilger Crystals (SME partner)

“Hilger Crystals see great benefits in working in collaboration with SEPnet on the RADnet scheme. This allows a SME to interact with academics and specialists in the field of radiation detection.  One benefit is the access to various software modelling packages which can not only enhance the performance of current products but also assist in the development of products for future requirements.”

Professor Paul Sellin, RADnet PhD Supervisor, University of Surrey

“The current RADnet pilot doctoral network has confirmed the success of the “industrial collaborative” funding model. The model relies on universities and industrial partners working together around collaborative research topics, which are essentially pre-commercial and provide under-pinning science and technology that supports the network’s theme. In 2019 we have 2 PhD projects running within RADnet, each funded by 2 industrial partners. We have successfully set up the over-arching framework agreement between the network’s university partners and we have produced individual project agreements which are used within each project by the host university and the two industrial partners. We have demonstrated that contractual and IP arrangements can be developed which meet the needs of all parties concerned and which support the collaborative nature of the overall research network. The IP arrangements for the network have been developed from the Government’s Lambert Model D consortium agreement. Overall, the RADnet pilot network has developed the necessary contractual and collaborative framework and demonstrated its success for use in this type of collaborative doctoral research.”

Professor Simon Peeters, RADnet PhD Supervisor, University of Sussex

“The technical detector developments in particle physics have huge potential to benefit local industry. Nevertheless, linking the knowledge in universities to industry can be challenging. However, during our first meeting of the RADnet studentship it became immediately clear that we can translate many successful ideas from my field to improve existing products in radiation detection.”

For a list of our projects for October 2021-22 see here.

RED (Research England Development) funded.