We allocate awards directly to businesses and related organisations using an algorithm based on financial contributions to EPSRC-funded research.
Students receive funding for a full EPSRC studentship for four years (full time equivalent). The industrial partners provide additional top up to the project of a minimum of a third of the EPSRC funding which can be used, for example, towards project costs and enhanced stipends. The student must spend at least three months at the industrial partner, who also pays any travel and subsistence costs.
Once businesses have determined their academic partner, grants are issued to those UK universities in the form of Industrial CASE accounts. Further information on this can be found in the Industrial CASE terms and conditions.
ICASE voucher allocation process
The annual £17 million ICASE budget is divided by the estimated cost of a four-year PhD, giving the total number of vouchers available for that year. The budget has remained static for a number of years, while the cost of studentships increases annually, meaning the total number of available vouchers decreases each year.
EPSRC uses project partners’ approximated yearly cash and in-kind contributions to the EPSRC portfolio to determine how many ICASE vouchers each partner will receive. Each grant’s total contribution from a partner is divided by the grant’s duration in months and then multiplied by 12 to give an approximate annualised contribution value.
After discounting instances where a partner’s annual contribution to a grant is less than £100, we add together all of a partner’s annualised contributions to determine their investment over the previous year.
From spring 2022, only contributions to grants which are funded from EPSRC’s Core budget will be considered. In previous rounds, partner contributions to cross-council opportunities such as ISCF and GCRF, were included, but are now omitted due to a change in grant data ownership.
Partners are then ranked by their algorithmic number. This number is obtained by first multiplying the number of grants to which an industrial partner contributes by 10,000 and then adding this to their total annualised contributions.
The total number of ICASE vouchers is divided approximately equally across five bands:
- 10 vouchers each for organisations in Band 1
- eight vouchers each in Band 2
- six vouchers each in Band 3
- four vouchers each in Band 4
- two vouchers each in Band 5.
This determines how many organisations fall into each band.
Organisations are then placed into the bands based on their ranking, starting with highest ranked going into Band 1.
If there were 200 vouchers in total, then 40 vouchers would be available in each Band (200 divided by five ). The 40 vouchers in Band 1 would be allocated to the four highest-ranked organisations, which would each receive 10 vouchers. The 40 vouchers in Band 2 would be allocated to the next five highest-ranked organisations, which would receive 8 vouchers each, and so on.
To avoid organisations’ ICASE allocations varying too much from year to year, we apply a movement rule which stipulates that an organisation’s initial allocation cannot increase or decrease by more than two vouchers per year.
An industrial partner in receipt of Industrial CASE vouchers may involve one additional UK-based industrial partner (such as an SME) on a project.
The industrial partner that was allocated the Industrial CASE vouchers becomes the lead industrial partner, and in line with the standard Industrial CASE requirements, remains responsible for ensuring the minimum cash contribution is delivered and student expenses are covered during visits. Student placements may be with either industrial partner, or both.
The Industrial CASE contact at the lead industrial partner will be the point of contact between the additional industrial partner and EPSRC.
The collaboration agreement between the lead industrial partner, the partnering university and the additional industrial partner should formalise exactly how any contributions from the additional industrial partner are delivered (for example, through the lead industrial partner, or directly to the university). The lead industrial partner and partnering university will be responsible for ensuring the quality and funding of the studentship.
Industrial CASE is not our only scheme where industry can get involved with doctoral projects. Companies can sponsor students and projects supported through DTP.