Co-sponsoring a PhD student research project

Call for Industrial PhD Project Proposals for the academic year 2023-24 is now open.  

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, 3, and 4 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 2024).  

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 for our Sept 2023 starters (who will begin working on their PhD projects in April 2024) - get in contact to find out how to submit yours!

Submit a proposal

It's very easy to submit a proposal for a PhD research project. Simply complete the PhD project proposal pro forma and send it to Stuart Wrigley (the CDT's manager) before mid-December 2023

There’s no need to complete every section - the core elements are the description of the project, its anticipated outcomes, and the associated data. It’s up to you how detailed these are. Even if you only have a broad idea of the area and outcomes, this is fine - it can be worked up into a fuller project description later. 

Even if you only want to sponsor a single project, we welcome multiple project ideas - this allows for a richer selection of projects for the students, and increases the likelihood that a student selects one of your projects.

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. 

Download the brochure:

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:

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.


Many of our students are keen to undertake placements in SLT-focused companies.  These usually take place in the student's third or final year so they will already have a lot of research experience under their belt so it will beneficial to both parties.

In-kind support

There are many other ways in which you can support our students: hosting of visits, offering technical training, gifting / loaning bespoke hardware, access to software or data, and mentoring or co-supervision are invaluable to us.

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

Guest lectures

You can also engage with the CDT through our conferences and seminars series. 

The CDT runs two seminar series focused on Industrial R&D and Entrepreneurship and Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) as well as organising keynote talks at our Annual Conference (2021, 2022). 

Please get in touch if you wish to give a talk (in-person or online) to our students and staff

Get in touch!

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


WS Audiology






Ieso Digital Health



Tech Nation

Therapy Box


Signal A.I.


NHS Digital




SoapBox Labs

Jam Creative Studios


Sheffield Digital