PhD Researcher Training

REALab is a field-leading model of doctoral training and research consultancy that brings early career researchers and business partners together to co-design solutions able to tackle business and societal challenges.

Benefits for Researchers

Within an interdisciplinary team-work environment, the programme is a great opportunity for early career researchers to:

  • Receive comprehensive training and coaching for each stage of the process, from project development to completion and dissemination of results.
  • Work remotely as part of a multisector project team and master the contemporary art of cloud-based collaborative working.
  • Manage a project throughout its full lifecycle, from initiation to delivery and evaluation, with the support of state-of-the-art tools and techniques.
  • Build your profile as “Research Associate Consultant” and complete a 70-hour paid consultancy project to make a difference beyond academia.
  • Work on the programme training and project on a part -time basis, alongside your PhD.
  • Get expert communication support to disseminate your project’s findings.

The programme

The programme develops in two main stages, starting with a series of training workshops in the Project Development stage, followed by a dragons-den style Pitch session which introduces project teams to the Project Delivery stage, where teams are supported with coaching until project completion.


A series of four skills development sessions designed to give you the essential skills you need to successfully deliver a research consultancy project in collaboration with your business partner. See full programme here.

Co-design workshop with partners

Apply the training on consultancy and stakeholder engagement to consult with your partner and shape the project in the right direction.

Pitch your project plan

Pitch your preliminary research and project plans to the partner and gain approval to move your project to the delivery stage.

Project delivery stage

Deliver your project with coaching support until project completion. You will work as part of a team (Business Challenges) or independently (Researcher-Led REALab), following a structured project management process, with the help of the latest cloud-based tech to stay on top of your workflows and deadlines. You will be provided with tested templates to format your final research package in the most professional way.

Disseminate your findings

On project completion, we support you to effectively communicate the results of your project to help you deliver your project’s aims and demonstrate the success of your work. See previously completed projects (here).

Researchers feedback

I loved being part of the programme, and I would definitely recommend fellow researchers to take part. This was an excellent opportunity to meet other researchers, enhance skills (and learn new ones), and use my research skills to support a local business, which I believe is extremely important, as I think research needs to be able to translate into the real world, and provide solutions to real-life problems. The coaching received during the programme was extremely useful and the level of skills and knowledge shown by the coaches was very high. I felt the feedback was constructive, clean and directed to improve our work.

Andreina Carrillo Espinoza
Global Development Institute, University Of Manchester (Collaboration Labs 2020)

Participating in this programme was a fantastic experience. Being part of a highly interdisciplinary team, I benefited from being exposed to a variety of methodologies, learning from all my teammates and developing new skills along the way. This experience was extremely enriching for my personal and professional development and I would highly recommend this programme to all PhD students.

Marta Riccardi
School Of Arts, University Of Liverpool (Collaboration Labs 2020)

The programme is a great chance to step outside what can be a bubble of academia, but also a chance to see that your skills are valuable, even in settings which you wouldn’t immediately link. I’ve benefitted from the training which has improved my ability to communicate research with a business audience. Finally, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working in an interdisciplinary team – I’ve learnt a lot from my team mates, and equally learnt about my own working style and role within a group.

Alina McLellan
The University of Manchester, School of Arts, Languages and Cultures (Collaboration Labs 2020)

The relationship between the business and academic worlds is complicated, with mutual scepticism and distrust commonplace, so this was a great opportunity to learn more about how they don’t have to be so far apart and can indeed form a mutually beneficial symbiosis. In an uncertain world we all want to keep as many doors open as possible, and the programme’s coaches were very supportive in suggesting future work pathways and approaching the research consultancy work you do in a way that can be built upon in the future. Sharing skills and gaining knowledge is ultimately what academia is all about, and Knowledge Exchange is about broadening one’s horizons regarding how far this can go.

Jack Adler-McKean
Royal Northern College of Music (Collaboration Labs 2020)