PhD Studentship – Industrial Strategy to deliver Absolute Zero

The UK has recently had a passive approach to Industrial Strategy, largely based on the belief that the market will find the best solutions, so government intervention is not required. That has led to a rapid decline in industrial production in the UK, and hence limited the opportunity to capture value from UK innovation. However, our recent work in the UK FIRES programme, summarised in the ‘Absolute Zero’ report that was debated in the House of Lords on 6 February 2020, reveals an extraordinary opportunity: a proactive national industrial strategy could stimulate rapid domestic growth in the industries we will certainly need to meet our legal zero emissions commitments. Our emissions targets are cutting edge, and could be the basis for a significant industrial renaissance, provided government policy is sufficiently pro-active to support the private sector in rapid re-tooling and transformation.

Based on comparative evidence of governmental interventions in industrial strategy in the UK and elsewhere, and in collaboration with the academic and industrial partners of UK FIRES, this PhD will attempt to develop a model of the features of government actions that are politically acceptable, industrially meaningful and compatible with zero emissions. The aim of the PhD is to provide the basis for a stream of politically achievable recommendations from the UK FIRES programme to support profitable responses to the zero emissions commitment.

Research Objectives include: -A comprehensive review of industrial strategy in the UK and at least two comparative countries with related contexts but different outcomes (eg Germany, Finland or South Korea). -Two or more policy case studies where past policy has had little effect in the UK but more effect elsewhere, to allow interview-based evaluation of opportunities for different approaches. -Pro-active work with the UK FIRES industrial partners, to frame new approaches to policy in priority areas. Specific Case Studies could include: -The Green Investment Bank, and opportunities for reducing the cost of capital for large industrial investments in new processes fit for zero emissions production -Organic food, and other cross-border standards, as a basis for exploring how new forms of trade agreement could create a level playing field for zero-emission innovations in the UK without facing cost disadvantages with high-emitting trading partners -Net Present Value assessment of policy actions to test their robustness to external change such as pandemics or climate impacts.

This funding is only available for UK/Home and EU students.

Applicants should have at least a good 2.1 degree in a subject related to industrial strategy and policy. This could include economics, policy, engineering or management. Prior experience of industrial strategy or policy dialogue would be a significant advantage.

To apply for this studentship, candidates must apply through the University’s Graduate Admissions application portal not later than 16 September 2020. The portal is at: and there is a £65 fee for PhD applications.

If you would like an informal discussion about the position, please send your CV and a letter setting out your suitability to “” but note that this does not constitute an application. We will not respond to enquiries sent by applicants who are ineligible for the funding.

The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society.

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