The Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships KESS2 scheme will partner over 500 businesses with academics and postgraduate research students to develop innovative research projects aimed at driving business growth.

The £36m EU-backed scheme to develop post-graduate research and innovation skills in partnership with small and medium-sized businesses has been announced by the First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones.

The map for the area that is eligible can be​ found here​.  Please note the map also illustrates other assisted areas in the UK, however only the West Wales and the Valleys (in blue/grey:  noted as 'a' areas) is eligible in this project. 


Please read the factsheet below for more information for businesses, companies and organisations: 


To be eligible for ESF funding sub projects must adhere to the following criteria:

  • ​Be scoped in partnership with a company partner.

  • Project activity must be in the convergence region of Wales.​

  • The company partner will have to contribute an annual cash contribution between £3k - £4k +VAT (depending on company size).

  • Sub projects must fit within one of the WG grand challenge areas : Life Sciences & Health; Low Carbon, Energy & Environment ; ICT & Digital Economy; Advanced Engineering & Materials.​

  • Must lead to a Masters by Research; MRes or PhD qualification.​

  • Must be completed in 3.5 years for PhD; 1year 3 months for Research Masters.​


Once proposed sub projects have been approved, a scholarship will be offered.

​The scholarship offers the eligible participant (student) :​ 

  • A mon​thly stipend in line with RCUK rates : 3 years of funding @ £14,002 per year for PhD; one year funding @ £11,313 for Research Masters.

  • University tuition fees are waived by Cardiff Metropolitan University,​

  • An opportunity to access a suite of higher level skills training and attendance at a residential KESS Grad School. All participants must complete the KESS Postgraduate Skills Development Award.

  • A minimum of 30 days a year working with the company partner on their allocated project.​

  • Standard KESS budget for other research project related costs (travel, consumables and equipment).​

  • Student must complete and submit their thesis in 3.5 years for PhD; 1year 3 months for Research Masters.​​

  • Applicants should be resident in the convergence area of Wales ​on appointment, and should have the right to work in the region on qualification

​Due to the limited time remaining for the completion of the KESS2 Project:

  • There will be no call for Expressions of Interest, instead all applications will proceed straight to full application form (this form is unchanged from previous calls)
  • A scholar is to be named on the application form (please seek advice from if this is not possible)
  • All sub-projects will be expected to start in April 2018 (the correct level of stipend for a PhD is shown using the drop-down box on the Budget form: Oct 17 – Sept 20.)

KESS2 - Application forms for sub projects (Cardiff Met Staff Only)

 ​> KESS2 Project Application Form

 >​ KESS2 Budget Form (Section C) - Please note this is an un-editable Pdf version, to have access to the Excel editable version please contact

 > KESS2 Project Application Guidance Notes

A 3rd call will open from 14th December 2017 until midday on 14th February 2018. Interested parties are to complete the full application form and submit to

The final date for queries to the KESS2 team regarding sub-projects will be Friday 2nd February 

KESS2 - PhD Scholarship Vacancies

Please see our open applications for KESS2 Scholarships, please ensure you have checked the eligibility criteria prior to applying which can be found in the above dropdown list.  

> Hand hygiene compliance in food manufacturing: food safety culture and intervention development

Deadline: 27th November 2017

The ZERO2FIVE Food Industry Centre (FIC) is an internationally recognised centre for food safety research and is a partner in Food Innovation Wales with substantial links to the Welsh food industry with long-term projects funded by the Welsh Government and European Union. Castell Howell Foods Ltd. is a large food and drink, manufacturing and processing business (FDMPB) that supplies low and high-risk food products to major retailers and food service outlets across Wales. This 3 year research post, based within the ‘FIC Food Safety Research Group’, provides an exciting opportunity to achieve a PhD and obtain invaluable industry experience working with a successful food manufacturer.

Hand hygiene is reported to be the single most effective way to prevent the spread of pathogens and communicable diseases and is essential in FDMPBs to ensure food safety. Food handlers can cause contamination of the food production environment through the transmission of pathogens from hands to surfaces and food products. Although data exist detailing hand hygiene at food retail, information detailing the hand hygiene practices of food handlers in FDMPBs is lacking. Factors that can affect the implementation of adequate hand hygiene practices in FDMPBs include the role of management in providing suitable and appropriate facilities for hand hygiene practices, the food safety culture of FDMPBs and the food safety knowledge and attitudes of food handlers. Cognitive research structured using concepts defined by food safety culture, is required to explore potential factors that influence hand hygiene behaviours, including identification of differences between hygiene/engineering staff and food handlers and identification of the potential barriers that exist for staff to adequately implement hand hygiene practices. This, combined with observed the hand hygiene behaviours can be used to inform development of bespoke training mechanisms and interventions tailored to specific company needs.

For more information click here.

> KESS2 PhD Scholarship: Implementing and evaluating evidence informed interventions to reduce self-harm behaviours and increase health and well-being in prison settings.

Deadline:  20th November 2017

Self-harm behaviours, suicide, violence and drug taking are at an all-time high in prison settings in the UK.  This has happened at a time when staff-service user ratios are at the lowest they have ever been.  The strain of staff is evidenced by record levels of staff turnover and sickness, specifically sickness related to mental health issues.  This impacts on service user and staff safety, health and well-being. There is an urgent need for prisons to address these issues and create environments that improve the well-being and the health of staff and service users. One prison in South Wales has created an action plan to embark on a strategy to improve the health and well-being of service users and staff.  This project would work alongside that strategy to evaluate a variety of interventions that the prison is introducing.  

The primary concerns for the prison are: Self-harm and suicide behaviour. The prison has a number of interventions aimed at reducing the risk of self-harm and suicide behaviours.  The project would aim to evaluate these interventions to explore the impact they have on observable behaviour (self-harm etc.) and on health and well-being (measured using psychometric assessments and offender accounts of their experiences of the interventions). The study will also provide some cost analysis of the interventions in order to demonstrate which interventions may be more cost efficient and to target resources on these appropriately. 

For more information click here. 

​Application forms and Guidance notes