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PhD Internship Opportunity: Exploring the potential of AI and data technologies in the Service Economy

Applications are invited from highly motivated PhD candidates to undertake a three-month internship to gather and assess evidence to identify new opportunities for project priorities related to the Next Generation Services theme under the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. The successful intern will work closely with the Innovation Caucus, which is an initiative funded by Innovate UK and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), (both of which are part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)). Some key aims of the Innovation Caucus are to support innovation-led growth and promote greater engagement between the social sciences and businesses.

Services account for almost 80% of the UK economy, with financial and professional services alone employing around 2.2 million and valued at £190 billion. As technologies such as artificial intelligence and data analytics become ever more ubiquitous, we need to prime the UK services sector to take advantage. These can help create a more efficient, productive and competitive sector and significantly improve the services that are provided to customers and clients. The next generation is expected to involve highly tailored services, building on the opportunities created by AI, coupled with increasing levels of data and digitisation, to better serve clients.

Next Generation Services (NGS) is a £20m pioneer programme funded under the industrial strategy challenge fund from March 2018 – March 2021. The goal is to help ensure that the UK is at the frontier of the services revolution and to consolidate its leadership position through the responsible use of technologies such as artificial intelligence and data analytics. Common themes throughout all NGS activity are identifying opportunities, removing barriers and understanding how to increase adoption of these technologies. So far, funded activities have focused on identifying opportunities in accountancy, insurance and legal services in the UK. However, there are other service sectors which also have strong potential for these kinds of technologies to have an impact. This internship will identify a shortlist of likely candidate UK industries which can be targeted next.

Person Specification

The intern will need to have:

  • the ability to work with academics and engage with academic debates to identify insights and make connections across research and policy domains;
  • a broad understanding of the social sciences, and appreciation of how the social sciences can contribute to the economy and society via the Industrial Strategy;
  • an interest in how social science disciplines can be applied to generate insights for businesses and innovation.

It is also desirable that the candidate will have:

  • a working understanding of the “service sector” and/or “AI and data technologies” would be an advantage;
  • the ability to synthesize research findings into outputs for non-academic audiences, e.g. using infographics;
  • excellent communication skills and the ability to work in a client-focused role.

Key Dates

Given the time sensitive nature of this project the start date of the project will be 1st July 2019 and will need to be completed by 30th September 2019 unless by mutual agreement. The timetable of key dates is presented below:

Date Milestone
14th June 2019 (noon) Deadline for applications for Internship
21st June 2019 Shortlisted candidates interviewed
w/c 24th June 2019 Successful candidate notified
w/c 1st July 2019 Kick-off meeting with ESRC/Innovate UK in London
30th September 2019 Project completed



The PhD intern will be expected to work remotely from their home institution, although there is scope to accommodate flexible working arrangements and the intern will be expected to attend meetings in London (and potentially in Swindon and Sheffield) on an ad hoc basis.

Funding and time commitment

A total of £4,500 will be paid in equal monthly installments over the agreed duration of the internship (e.g. a £1,500 per month stipend for 3 months). Travel to meetings and other agreed expenses will be reimbursed in addition. The funds will be transferred to the university at which the PhD student is registered and the stipend and travel expenses will be paid by the PhD student’s home institution.

Application Process

Please send a letter outlining your interest in the project and position as a PhD intern with the Innovation Caucus, and details of how your skills and experience make you well suited to undertake the internship. Applications should be sent to by noon on Friday June 14th 2019.

Please ensure that the university at which you are registered agrees to support your application.

For informal enquiries about the focus and requirements for this internship, please contact Professor Tim Vorley, For enquiries about the application process, please contact Dr Katy Wing,