How PhD students can collaborate with your business

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Discover how the South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership is working to help businesses innovate


WELCOME TO BUSINESS BOOST In this prospectus we showcase some of the exciting and innovative research projects being led by students within the South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership.

As the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) outlines, the social sciences have a great deal to offer businesses – from understanding the potential for new goods, services and business models to improving relationships with providers, customers and employees. The training partnership brings together PhD-level expertise from the universities of Brighton, Portsmouth and Southampton, to deliver the latest developments in research method training, supported by funding from the ESRC. This is with the aim of equipping PhD-level students with the skills and expertise they need to tackle tomorrow’s economic and social challenges. As lead partner the University of Southampton is recognised in the UK for the quality and impact of our research. More than 96 per cent of our research environment is rated as ‘world-leading’ and ‘internationally excellent’ (REF 2014) and we’re ranked as one of Europe’s top 100 most innovative universities by Thomson Reuters.

We open our doors to businesses looking to use this world-leading research in a number of ways, as part of a wider portfolio of support, services and facilities we offer to business and organisations. If you’re thinking of taking the first step in finding out more about how university research can help boost your business, please get in touch, we’d love to hear from you. What can the social sciences do for you? You may not think social sciences have value for your business, but they touch everything; let us show you how you can access our social science talent and expertise to boost your business.

Professor Athina Vlachantoni Director of the ESRC South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership




Ways we can work together


Sustainability, environment and resilience: How social science is helping to manage flood risk


Global economies and business innovation: How crowdsourced data could make cycling safer


Global economies and business innovation: How AI is helping to boost good lending


Population change, health and wellbeing: How an interactive website is helping to beat bugs


Learning, knowledge and behaviour: How social science is supporting better animal welfare


The SCDTP five themes: some of the ways you can access our knowledge to boost your business


WAYS WE CAN WORK TOGETHER Where to start If you’re a business or an organisation that’s thinking of working in collaboration with a university, it’s understandable that you may feel a little daunted at first. Who to contact? Which university department? What’s the best subject area?

Problem-solvers We’re a friendly, knowledgeable and approachable team, and we can help. Discover future talent – PhD students are problem-solvers and their research skills can be applied in a multitude of environments to bring fresh thinking and innovation to your workforce.

Recruitment pipeline

Consultancy and collaboration

There is a number of ways you can access any of our students across the collaborating universities in the ESRC South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership and develop a future recruitment pipeline. We find the most successful route is a personalised approach to meet your expectations. All we need is an initial conversation, then we’ll be able to match our expertise, providing a talent solution for your challenge to meet your timeframes and resources.

In addition to providing talented PhD students from the ESRC South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership to work on specific placements or projects, we can help to match you with academic expertise which you can access through a range of consultancy and collaborative research projects or by having a researcher seconded to come to work on a project within your business. We also offer tailored continuing professional development and training opportunities for your staff.

Unlock funding We can also help you unlock funding for research in your organisation by accessing grants only available through a university collaboration.

We offer you a fantastic way to finally get that important piece of research work off to a flying start. Get in touch and we’ll provide friendly, experienced guidance and, together, give your business a real boost.


Sustainability, environment and resilience

MANAGING FLOOD RISK How social science is opening-up new solutions to manage flood risk As flooding continues to bring risk and potential danger to communities, University of Southampton student Kate Rawlings developed a prototype index to identify properties at risk of being cut-off in a flood event, as part of an industry placement. Kate took the placement with Ambiental Risk Analytics, a company that specialises in advanced flood modelling, predictive analytics and machine learning to provide extra insight into managing flooding and flood risk.

local government, and help them to become better prepared for any potential disruption caused by flooding. Kate’s research has therefore brought social sciences know-how to a problem that is typically addressed from a physical sciences point of view.

The project focused on identifying properties at risk of being cut-off in the event of a flood – leading to substantial travel disruption – an issue that is not yet fully integrated into flood risk procedures.

This new research could also open up new commercial avenues for businesses in this sector, such as expanding Kate’s prototype beyond a sample local region to across the whole of the UK, as part of a commercial product set. Find out more about accessing our skills, to give your organisation a business boost.

The information generated from this prototype has the potential to increase awareness of flood risk for homeowners, businesses, and


“ One of the good things about doing an industry placement is having to think about how my academic work could be used commercially and presenting ideas from a commercial perspective.� Kate Rawlings PhD student, School of Geography and Environmental Science, University of Southampton

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Global economies and business innovation

PEOPLE FOR PEDAL- POWER How harnessing the power of crowdsourced data could help support greener, safer urban cycling As a PhD student at the University of Brighton with a background in geography and urban planning, Shaun Williams is researching how crowdsourced data, provided by cyclists, may help to create greener, safer cities of the future.


We regularly read headlines about the increasing relationship between digital technology and motorised modes of transport – such as self-driving cars. But, by contrast, there is relatively little attention paid to the relationship between technology and more active modes of transport, such as cycling; despite the fact that cycling can play a vital role in creating more environmentallyfriendly and socially-inclusive urban design in the future. While apps now exist, such as, to bring together smart, crowdsourced cycling data and transport authorities, there is a distinct lack of any official guidance on how authorities understand and use data in a meaningful way, such as to inform planning and transport policy. For this to have real impact, it will require critical buy-in from

stakeholders – such as digital start-ups, the Department for Transport, and urban planning and policymakers. To that end, Shaun’s mixed-method research involves gathering expert views and recommendations, so that crowdsourced cycling data may have potential impact on urban design in years to come. This includes discussions with the start-up company, Liberty Bell, who use a ‘citizen engagement’ research platform to collect and map qualitative data about the real experiences – both positive and negative – of different groups of people who cycle, see Gaining this insight is helping to inform the best ways to address barriers to cycling for people of different ages, genders and abilities. Find out more about how your company can access our skills, to give your operations a business boost.

“ Research has an important role to play in shaping the future of cycling transport policy, but increasingly new digital disruptors are also playing an important role in delivering more sustainable visions for urban transport – and we need to gain a fuller understanding of the value of their role.” Shaun Williams PhD student, School of Applied Social Science, University of Brighton

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Global economies and business innovation

ANALYSING DATA How AI is helping to boost better lending for SMEs in developing countries PhD student Matt Stevenson is working in partnership with a South American bank, using ‘deep learning’ artificial intelligence techniques, to interrogate the free text data used by bank staff to determine successful loan applications to SMEs. ‘Free text data’ in this case are essentially the words written by bank staff in evaluating the SMEs’ loan applications. For example, words that describe the nature of the loan, plus any supporting information, such as a business plan. As there is a high volume of loans to analyse – automation not only saves significant time and money, but also it enhances the quality and value of the text data. Plus, data can be interrogated more fully, so as to gain a better understanding of the inherent risk involved in each loan decision. This, in turn, reduces the likelihood of the bank making the wrong lending decision, leading to non-payment of loans and bad debt. And that means, if there’s lower risk, and a lower cost of lending, more good loans can be agreed, thus increasing the


chances for more SMEs globally to get the funding they need to help their businesses grow, which is especially important within developing countries. Looking ahead, Matt and his research partners will seek to integrate these analytical methods with more traditional means of credit scoring. Plus, there are plans to extend the focus of the research to determine precisely which words or phrases contribute to successful loan applications. Discover how our data expertise can help boost your business, too.

FOR DECISIONS More ways our cutting-edge research is helping businesses to innovate Artificial intelligence This is a long-established discipline at the University of Southampton, and our world-class researchers are applying their work to fields as diverse as transport, energy, security and even football.

“ I find this project interesting as it gives me the opportunity to work with the latest developments from the field of AI and apply it in a real-world context.” Matt Stevenson PhD student, Southampton Business School, University of Southampton

Network performance Southampton is a lead partner in the £6.1m Airguide Photonics programme, which aims to reinvent fibre optics technology and transform future fibre network performance. Cracking cybercrime We’re playing a leading role in research and education to tackle cybercrime, both today and in the future, by fighting cybercrime and training the cyber security experts of the future.

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Population change, health and wellbeing

HANDWASHING GOES VIRAL How an interactive website is helping to reduce the spread of colds, flu and stomach bugs We all know that handwashing is a tried and tested method of preventing the spread of germs that cause colds, flu and stomach bugs. But now a new interactive website, Germ Defence, co-developed by University of Southampton PhD student Sascha Miller, is also helping in the battle of the bugs. Germ Defence was initially only available to a selected trial group, but it soon had impact in encouraging good hand hygiene, with 53.1% of users taking its advice and washing their hands at least 10 times a day. Data gathered also showed that people using Germ Defence, and those they live with, were picking up fewer colds, flu bugs and stomach bugs. Now, Sasha is leading the roll-out of Germ Defence for use by the general public, supported by health charities, public health networks, pharmacies, and businesses involved with food handling, so its impact has further reach.


It is expected that Germ Defence’s guidance will also help to benefit wider society by reducing dependency on antibiotics, reducing time taken off due to sickness, and helping to avoid serious health conditions worsening through colds, flu or stomach bugs. Sascha is also now working to forge links with businesses and health groups in the UK and beyond to get Germ Defence embedded on corporate websites, as an easy-to-use, helpful tool for training and general wellbeing awareness.

“ I’ve really enjoyed the feedback from people using Germ Defence. Handwashing is something people already do, and understand its benefits, but Germ Defence also provides ideas, that people hadn’t thought of before – such as trying to touch your eyes, nose and mouth less often, to help them stay even more healthy.” Sascha Miller PhD student, Centre for Clinical and Community Applications of Health Psychology, School of Psychology, University of Southampton

NICE ENDORSEMENT Germ Defence is now endorsed by NICE, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, as an ‘educational resource [that] supports the recommendations on handwashing, food handling, childhood vaccinations and preventing airborne infection in the NICE guideline on antimicrobial stewardship.’

Find out more: Visit Germ Defence at Germ Defence is based on the study: An internet-delivered handwashing intervention to modify influenza-like illness and respiratory infection transmission (PRIMIT): A primary care randomised trial. Lancet. 2015;386(10004), Little et al, 2015.

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Learning, knowledge and behaviour

BEARING THE BURDEN How social science is supporting better animal welfare Working in partnership with international animal charity The Donkey Sanctuary, Emily Haddy, a PhD student at the University of Portsmouth, is helping to improve the lives of the millions of working donkeys, horses and mules across the globe, by adding a social science perspective based on local research.


Emily’s work focuses on gaining a deeper understanding of locally relevant cultural, environmental and social dynamics in order to develop a tool that can help to identify and address equine welfare issues on a local level, giving them a greater chance of success. Millions of working people across the world, from southern Europe to South America, depend on donkeys, horses and mules to sustain their livelihoods. Equally, these animals depend on their owners for their welfare. Yet until now, only minimal research exists that integrates social science with the welfare of the estimated 100 million working equines globally. While the issue of low welfare standards of working equines is well-documented in charity reports,

the issue is noticeably lacking in scientific literature or agricultural policy, despite the economic contribution that these animals make. Emily’s research is aiming to change this, through gathering useful data on issues such as the types of work equines perform, owner attitudes, and how communities share animal management practices, so as to document a deeper understanding of local issues, to help more equine welfare initiatives succeed both locally, and globally. Our social science research is helping charities and other organisations make a real difference to animal welfare and communities – get in touch to find out more ways we can help.

“ Equids – donkeys, mules and horses – are hugely important to so many people around the world, and I am passionate about giving them a voice.” Emily Haddy PhD student, Centre for Comparative and Evolutionary Psychology, Department of Psychology, University of Portsmouth

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The South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership focuses on these five themes – from AI to sustainability - these are just some of the ways you can access our knowledge to boost your business.


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Citizenship, governance and security

Population change, health and wellbeing

From transport to energy, and security to sport, if you’re looking to harness the power of technology our expertise can help in a number of ways.

Do you want to understand population change and demographics to set your company’s direction for the next 10 years? We can help.

Global economies and business innovation Are you drowning in a sea of data? Let us do a deep dive and bring your valuable data to the surface.




Learning, knowledge and behaviour

Rigorous social science research can support new policies with evidence – by working with us you can develop new policy to improve lives.


Sustainability, environment and resilience If you want to head towards a greener future, our sustainability expertise can help you meet green goals in practical and effective ways.

Dr Jagannadha Pawan Tamvada

Dr Jane Kavanagh-Lauridsen

Deputy Director ESRC South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership University of Southampton

Business Engagement Manager University of Southampton

T: +44 (0) 23 8059 8968 E:

T: +44 (0) 23 8059 3095 E:

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