Over 25 other PhD students from across the 10 universities in SeNSS were funded to engage with businesses on social science topics that benefited both their research and business needs. The business engagements in the case studies here were largely funded through the ESRC’s Business Boost initiative (2018-2019). Though this funding has ended, we continue to support collaborations between PhD students and businesses, and encourage you to get in touch; SeNSS is keen to support industry collaborations with PhD students. Have a look at what has been done:


Heather Taylor, PhD student at the University of Sussex

Case Study 1: Working with Headspace, a mindfulness app

Heather Taylor, PhD student at the University of Sussex, worked with Headspace, a smartphone app for mindfulness. Heather was new to business engagement and though it would be daunting, but she gained research and enterprise experience from working with them.


Aarni Tuomi, PhD student at the University of Surrey

Case Study 2:  Can robots help restaurants?

Aarni Tuomi, PhD student at the University of Surrey, developed a novel business engagement method (Hack Hospitality) with designers, technology developers, and robotics organisations – such as Karakuri – to understand how robotics change the way people work in the restaurant industry.

‘You shouldn’t do a theory for theory’s sake … you should do a theory so that it’s useful for somebody, and more often than not it is, if you engage with the industry’ – Aarni Tuomi


Konrad Maliszewski, PhD student at the University of East Anglia

Case Study 3: Working with small businesses

Konrad Maliszewski, PhD student at the University of East Anglia, piloted a technology and loyalty scheme with small, local shops in Norwich, contributing to his research and aiming to help the small businesses know how to survive in the world of growing large, multi-national shops.

‘From my point of view, I know more about my own business’ – Nick Thornton, owner of Sam’s Local Shopper


The FuseBox based in Sussex

Case Study 4: Residencies in a collaborative tech-space

A collaborative R&D space in Brighton hosted 2 University of Sussex social science PhD students as ‘residents’, something usually only available to small businesses.

Before coming to the Fusebox I hadn’t really considered doing anything but continuing in academia. Being here has demystified the business world quite substantially. – Sam Bernard, University of Sussex PhD student


Further Information

Inspired to pursue a new or existing business collaboration yourself? Please contact your own University’s SeNSS contact, or or email Abigail Shirley, SeNSS Training Manager.