Co-sponsoring a PhD student research project

Our students’ PhD research projects are collaborations with industry and address SLT-related real world business and technology challenges across a variety of application domains.

Companies who have proposed projects and are already co-sponsoring Cohorts 1, 2, and 3 students include Apple, Amazon, 3M, Huawei, Toshiba, Meta, ZOO Digital, and Tribepad.

Proposing a project

Proposing a PhD research project for one of our students is an excellent way to explore an avenue for which you or your company may not have internal capacity. You can work as closely as you like with the student - many opt to be involved in regular technical supervision meetings.

You get to define the theme or topic that will become a student's state-of-the-art PhD research that will benefit your organisation’s activities. It's a highly cost-effective way to drive relevant leading-edge research which you may not have the funding, expertise or equipment to undertake in-house.

Our world-leading academics have a broad range of speech and NLP research interests so it would be highly likely that one or more would be happy to supervise; if you already know one or more of our academics and would like them to supervise, just let us know.


New CDT students undertake intensive cohort-based training in the first six months and only start work on a PhD project in the following April (so, for this cohort, April 2023).

In the months prior to the students starting a PhD project, we gather a range of project topics from our industrial partners from which the CDT students can select their preferred project. An important part of the process is the academics and students working with the companies to refine these project concepts into a fully fledged PhD research project.

We are collating potential PhD project ideas right now - get in contact to find out how to submit yours!

Find out more

To find out more about proposing a PhD project and co-sponsoring a student, please download the brochure or contact Dr Stuart Wrigley (CDT Operations and Business Development Manager) by emailing or calling +44 114 222 1880.

Intellectual Property (IP)

The PhD project is a close partnership between the sponsor and the University. There will be some joint outputs and publications.

We are happy to negotiate IP arrangements, and will follow a reasonable approach to publication (such as sponsor prior approval and removal of sensitive information). You can review our standard agreement templates at any time.

Project sponsorship: costs and process

When you sponsor a student and their project, you will pay less than half of the normal cost of the four-year PhD studentship, with the remainder being provided by UKRI and the University of Sheffield.

We operate a two tier sponsorship approach:

  • Tier one sponsors propose specific PhD projects, have significant input into their design, make their application the focus of the research, have the opportunity to host internships for the student, and have bespoke agreements for IPR. Total cost is £46,000 for the entire four-year studentship (just £11,500 per year).

  • Tier two support is associated with projects with a low level of input and less claim on the student’s time. The total cost is £23,000 for the entire four-year studentship (just £5,750 per year).

To promote cohort cohesion we apply a uniform funding model for all students (same stipend, same training budget) regardless of the sponsorship approach adopted by the industrial partner with whom they work.

If you are a UK taxpayer, you may also be able to claim Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credits. Sponsorship can be made in a single payment or via a payment schedule.

To find out more about proposing a PhD project and sponsoring a student, please contact Dr Stuart Wrigley (CDT Operations and Business Development Manager) by emailing or calling +44 114 222 1880.

Other ways to engage

As an alternative to sponsoring a student (or as well as), there are additional ways in which you can get involved with the CDT.

You can engage with the CDT through conferences and seminars, by making data available for research, and participating in the Industrial Sponsors’ Forum.

Support in the form of guest lectures, hosting of visits, teaching, technical training, bespoke hardware, software or data, mentoring, supervision would also be beneficial – please get in touch.

Non-student related financial contributions such as provision of travel awards, or supporting annual workshops are also very welcome.

Becoming a member of the Centre will open up a wide range of other engagement opportunities with our students, researchers, academics, and the wider group of sponsoring companies.

To find out more, please contact Dr Stuart Wrigley (CDT Operations and Business Development Manager) by emailing or calling +44 114 222 1880.

Industrial partners


Amazon Research

ZOO Digital


VoiceBase / LivePerson

Meta (formerly Facebook)

Microsoft Research








Ieso Digital Health




Tech Nation

Therapy Box


Signal A.I.


NHS Digital




SoapBox Labs

Jam Creative Studios


Sheffield Digital

King’s College London