PhD Studentship – Industrial Strategy to deliver Absolute Zero

Since Mrs Thatcher’s day, the UK has had a very 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 allowed a rapid decline in industrial production in the UK, and hence limited the opportunity to capture value from new technologies. Considering an industry with ‘Absolute Zero’ emissions presents an extraordinary opportunity, as the rapid change required to deliver a zero emissions economy will require the development and production of different products from different material sources. Potentially, this is a huge opportunity in the UK: 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.

This PhD aims to develop a sound approach to developing implementable industrial strategy. Based on comparative evidence of governmental interventions in industrial strategy in the UK and elsewhere, in the recent and more distant past, the PhD will attempt to develop a model to characterize the features of government actions that are politically acceptable and industrially meaningful. The aim of the PhD is to provide the basis for a stream of politically achievable recommendations from the UK FIRES programme into the ministries most likely to be able to deliver change in practice. Research Objectives include:

  • Comprehensive review of industrial strategy in the UK and at least two comparative countries with related contexts but different outcomes (e.g. Germany and Finland).
    • 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 in areas of direct interest for UK FIRES industrial partners, to frame new approaches to policy in issues of direct interest to members. Industry Case Studies include:
    • The Green Investment Bank, and opportunity 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.

Applicants should have (or expect to obtain by the start date) at least a good 2.1 degree in an Engineering or related subject.

Relevant industrial experience would be an advantage.

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