Innovation Placement Fund

The National Productivity Investment Fund for PhD Innovation Placements is available to students at King’s College London who are funded by the MRC. Innovation Placements aim to encourage and facilitate knowledge exchange via academic and industrial partnerships, by giving PhD students the opportunity to work with industry partners. These placements will provide talented individuals with the transferable skills that will aid transition between Higher Education and industry sectors and enhance employability.

General guidelines:

  • Available for MRC PhD students (supported by any route of MRC funding) who are currently completing their PhD. Applications from MRes students will not be considered.
  • Applications will be considered for placements scheduled between thesis submission and viva.
  • Year 1 students must have passed their MPhil/PhD upgrade to be eligible for the fund.
  • The placement must be unpaid and not directly related to the research project. The student’s registration must be interrupted for the duration of the placement.
  • Length of placement: up to a maximum of 12 months for current student applications.
  • Types of placement: applications will be considered for placements with a non-academic partner if they can provide the student with distinctive research training and experience not available in an academic setting. Examples of placements funded include charities, pharmaceutical companies, a science equipment company, a fellowship programme and more.
  • Applicants can apply for a maximum of £8,000. Applications above the maximum limit are welcome and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
  • All placements need to be completed by the end of March 2020.
  • The MRC DTP Team will monitor allocations to all successful applicants closely.

How to Apply:

Please submit a complete application form to by Monday 4th November 23:59. All applications will be considered by an academic panel. Application outcomes should be expected by the end of November.

Further Information:

Please direct any enquiries to

Recent Awardees

Sophie Carruthers

3 month placement at the Cabinet Office

Amount awarded: £4,194.25

Kylie Glanville

3-month internship with a pharmaceutical firm specializing in psychiatric and neurological disorders                                                                

Amount awarded: £4,344

Hannah Pickard

3-month placement at Autistica, the UK’s largest autism research charity

Amount awarded: £4,594.24

Tegan Penton

5-month placement at Rogue Resolutions

Amount awarded: £7,190.40

Lucy Livingston

Internship with the NAS Research team

Amount awarded: £3,914.62

Alice Vickers

6-month fellowship programme with Merck Ventures  within their Healthcare Fund at their headquarters in Amsterdam

Amount awarded: £6,340

Mattia Ficarelli

3-month placement at placement at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) plc.

Amount awarded: £5,836.50

Laura Riddleston

3-month placement at MQ, the UK’s first major charity dedicated to mental health research

Amount awarded: £4,594.24

Impact Statements

We aim to collect impact statements from all our Innovation Placement Fund awardees to demonstrate the breadth of it’s use and how it can be used to support research and training activities; this section will be updated as our awardees complete their placements.

Sophie Carruthers

Cabinet Office Open Innovation Placement: a summary report

In September 2018, I started a 3-month secondment in the Mental Health policy team in the Department of Health and Social Care. The placement had been organised by the Open Innovation Team, based in the Cabinet Office. Specifically, I was seconded to the team working on the Independent Review of the Mental Health Act, a report commissioned by the Prime Minister in October 2017. The Review was set up to address rising detention rates, racial disparity in the use of the Act and concerns about human rights and dignity. It was chaired by Professor Sir Simon Wessely.  I joined the team in the final 3 months of the Review process. My main responsibilities included:

  • Supporting the service user and carer group; twelve individuals who had either previously been detained under the Mental Health Act or cared for someone who had been. The group were a core part of the Review team; emerging recommendations from the Chairs and Vice Chairs were discussed with them for feedback and, in response, the group devised a summary of recommendations that they felt were missing. I also worked with the group to draft a letter to the Prime Minister, calling on the government to accept the recommendations in the report.
  • Developing policy recommendations focusing on improving the experience of families who experience the death of a loved one who is detained under the Act. This involved meeting with many stakeholders, discussing different options and reviewing the associated resource implications and impact of such proposals.
  • Logging and summarising evidence (academic and personal accounts) as it was sent into the Review. Reviewing and selecting key evidence for including in the final report.
  • Appraising and finalising the proposals for the sections covering Patient Safety and Dignity.
  • Editing, proof-reading and formatting the 300-page final report.

Two weeks before we were due to publish, it was announced that the Brexit vote was due to clash with our launch date. So, with 13 days to go, we lost 6 as the launch was pulled forward. Some late nights later, the report was successfully launched on the 6th December.  I learned a significant amount over the course of the placement. Working within the civil service gave me an insight into how government works, how policy and laws are developed and reformed, and how Ministers work. Supporting the service user and carer group taught me the realities of the mental health detention system and reinforced the importance and value in making those with lived experience an integral part of any policy or research process that impacts them. In addition, I worked alongside individuals from charities, research units, legal teams, social care teams and mental health clinicians. I gained an insight into their range of perspectives, their different competing priorities and challenges, and how they worked towards a common goal of improving the experiences of those detained under the Act. The style of work during this time was different to the daily experience of my PhD. The pace at which the project moved required work to be completed quickly. Prioritisation happened on a daily basis and the team worked closely through a series of quick-fire meetings each morning to assign and redistribute tasks and monitor progress. Such ways of working were engaging and productive. It was the evidence of how frequent assessment of progress and priorities, team work, a bit of pressure

and clear deadlines can make for very effective work. All things that one tries to emulate during a PhD; yet isn’t always achievable at the scale evident during the Review.  I am so pleased that I had the opportunity to complete the secondment. I experienced a completely different work environment: the methods, culture, styles of management and team dynamics were all a contrast to my PhD. This not only introduced me to new ways of working that I enjoyed, but also made me appreciate the aspects of my PhD and research that I really value and sometimes take for granted. Ultimately, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the experience to other students. I now have a better understanding of policy and how, as a researcher, I can engage with policymakers to further the impact of my work, and guide my research through the framework of policy priorities.

Kylie P. Glanville

Statement of outcomes from MRC PhD Innovation Placement Fund support

The MRC PhD Innovation Placement Fund provided me with the opportunity to spend three months on an industrial placement with H. Lundbeck A/S in Copenhagen, a pharmaceutical firm specializing in psychiatric and neurological disorders including schizophrenia, depression, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. The experience has been enormously rewarding, and helped to develop both my analytical training and leadership skills.

During the placement I had the unique opportunity to work with data from a recent clinical trial for schizophrenia treatment. My primary objective was to investigate the role of common genetic variation in treatment response, focusing on the utility of polygenic risk scores to explain variance in trial outcomes. This project allowed me to translate the methodological training I’ve received at KCL to an applied setting. This provided insight into practical challenges relating to small data sets, understanding and resolving real-life data challenges at source, and how to translate research into industry objectives.

As lead analyst on this project, I was responsible for educating stakeholders from around the business on the proposed analytical approach, and obtaining agreement on the primary goals of the project. The project culminated into a half-day genetics symposium with a wide business audience and talks from senior academics, where I had the opportunity to present the project results and discuss further collaboration between academia and industry.

I cannot overstate how valuable this placement has been for my professional development. The experience has inspired a new chapter for my PhD thesis, which will focus on how genetic analysis of complex traits can be practically implemented in an industrial setting. The exposure to industry has helped to clarify my long-term career goals and the steps needed to realize them.