Innovation Internships programme: Towards sustainability


Aspect member: Zinc.

What is the project doing?

This project is now concluded and piloted a new programme to provide PhD Candidates (mostly 2nd year of their doctorate) with an opportunity to complete a placement within an early-stage venture for three months, full-time. The programme emphasised short-term immersion in the world of early-stage innovation with the aim of helping early career researchers to both teach in and learn from research-related engagement with start-up founders. In addition to their placement, they received training and developed commercial awareness; a transferable skill they can take back to their doctorate.

Why is this needed?

The placements programme is specifically intended to facilitate and amplify both the use of existing social science research in commercial contexts and the opportunities for meaningful collaboration between social scientists and early-stage innovators. The project expects both placement holders and venture hosts to benefit from their collaboration during the placements themselves. Furthermore, it is hoped that some placement holders will be inspired by their experience to work with or for ventures in the future.

How can members get involved?

For any future programmes, Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs) across the UK will be contacted with a specific focus on Social Science departments and faculties. Invitations to apply will be distributed via the DTP Programme Manager to PhD Candidates exposing them to the opportunity.

Contact: Dr Sal Malik ( or Rachel Middlemass (

Training & resources

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Zinc offers an Innovation Internships scheme for PhD students to learn about early-stage innovation within placements in start-ups

This is a detailed report available to Aspect members about Zinc’s offerings of the Aspect-funded Innovation Internships scheme that supports students from both disciplines, SHAPE and STEM, for three-month placements outside academia, with mission-focused start-ups to gain commercial experience.

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