Author:
Kaspar Koolmeister

Industrial doctorate

The industrial doctorate is a cooperation between the university, the partner organisation and the doctoral student. In industrial doctorate, the student's research proceeds from the needs of the partner organisation.

Below, you will find information about cooperation negotiationsstages of work and contacts, as well as the organisation of admission

Objectives of industrial doctorate:

  • promoting the university's cooperation with businesses, public- and third-sector bodies;
  • enriching the university's doctoral studies and training top-level professionals to meet labour market needs;
  • increasing the applicability of research and its relevance to the needs of society;
  • increasing the share and capacity of R&D in businesses and institutions;
  • diversifying doctoral career paths and increasing the share of PhD holders in companies and institutions.

News and media

Cooperation negotiations

Industrial doctorate refers to cooperation between the university and a partner organisation that does not grant doctoral degrees. Partner organisations may include companies, public-sector bodies and R&D institutions.

Partners' agreements are laid down in the cooperation agreement, which the doctoral student follows in their activities. Negotiations on the cooperation agreement should start early, already before applying for funding (from the measure) and for the student place at the university. It will take at least 1.5 to two months from the start of negotiations until the entry into force of the cooperation agreement. 

Pay attention to the following topics in the cooperation negotiations:

  • organisation of admission;
  • organisation of work between the university and the partner, e.g. participation in the work of the assessment committee;
  • principles of information exchange;
  • the doctoral student's activities at the university, incl. participation in introductory events, courses and training, supervision by the university, etc.;
  • location of research and distribution of resources;
  • questions related to confidential information and intellectual property rights.

The success of a doctoral project depends on the partners’ capability to supervise the research and their smooth cooperation.

The research topic may be proposed by the partner organisation or the university.

One of the supervisors must have an employment contract with the University of Tartu: that person is the supervisor in charge under the Regulations for Doctoral Studies. An exception can be made if the partners agree in the cooperation agreement that the supervisor from the partner organisation will be the supervisor in charge.

The supervisor must hold a doctoral degree. In justified cases, a leading practitioner in the field may be appointed as one supervisor regardless of holding a doctoral degree.

Read more

If the supervisor needs to be changed, the other party to the cooperation agreement must be informed in good time. 

The progress of an industrial doctoral student is assessed on the same basis as that of other doctoral students.

Read more

The partners agree on covering the costs of doctoral studies, research, and creating the job position.

The university advises dividing the costs into three parts:

  • the doctoral student's salary costs, calculated based on the university's minimum salary rate for junior research fellows and the projected salary increase for the total period of study;
  • the university's fixed costs related to the organisation and delivery of teaching. 20% of overhead is calculated on the fixed costs;
  • variable costs related to the doctoral student's research, workplace and work equipment, and travel within Estonia and abroad.

The cooperation agreement sets out who will cover which costs. The coverage of the student's salary costs and variable costs depends on the agreement between the parties, the student's workplace and the specifics of the research. The partner organisation can cover the university's costs based on an invoice or a grant agreement. If the university issues an invoice to the partner for covering the costs, a VAT of 22% is added to the amount.

See the possibilities for partial coverage of costs in the chapter "Applying for funding".

In the research collaboration between a university and a partner organisation, intellectual property and confidentiality issues are important and need to be discussed in good time. For example, answers should be found to the following preliminary questions.

  • Is the source information provided by the partner an idea or the result of development work?
  • How can the parties use the intellectual property they already own?
  • Is there a flow of data between the partners? If so, who is the data controller?
  • Who owns the results of the research collaboration?
  • What will be done with the results belonging to the partner organisation?
  • How to publish the research results that the university expects from the doctoral student?

Guidelines on intellectual property and avoiding conflicts of interest can be found on the intranet. If you have any questions, please email reet.adamsoo@ut.ee or call 737 6202.

What is intellectual property?

In the context of an industrial doctorate, intellectual property is defined as intellectual assets created in the course of teaching and studies, research and development; for example, research project results, reports, technological know-how, software, presentations, scientific articles, doctoral theses, etc.

The issues of intellectual property rights depend to a large extent on whether the doctoral student is working at the university or in a partner organisation.

Doctoral student works in a partner organisation

  • The economic rights to the intellectual property created in the course of contractual tasks belong to the partner organisation.
  • The economic rights to the doctoral thesis as a work belong to the doctoral student. If the doctoral thesis contains research results belonging to the university, the doctoral student may transfer the economic rights to the partner organisation only with a prior agreement with the university.
  • The supervisor at the University of Tartu must ensure that the intellectual property belonging to or created by the university does not pass to the partner organisation without a relevant agreement:
    • If the doctoral student participates in a development project of the university and creates intellectual property, the doctoral student must sign a deed of assignment, whereby they assign to the university the economic rights to the results of their development project and the authorisation to use the moral rights of the author;
    • If the doctoral student wants to use the university’s intellectual property in the doctoral thesis, the partner organisation and the university must make an additional agreement specifying whether the partner organisation wants to use the university’s intellectual property and to acquire the economic rights to the doctoral thesis from the doctoral student.

Doctoral student works as a junior research fellow at the university

  • The intellectual property created in the course of contractual tasks belongs to the university.
  • The economic rights to the doctoral thesis as a work belong to the doctoral student. If the doctoral thesis contains research results belonging to the university, the doctoral student may transfer the economic rights to the partner organisation only with a prior agreement with the university.
  • The supervisor at the University of Tartu must ensure that the intellectual property belonging to the university is not passed to the partner organisation without a relevant agreement.

An industrial doctoral student is generally an employee of the partner organisation whose main duty is research and development activities related to the doctoral thesis. The parties can also agree that the doctoral student works at the university as a junior research fellow. 

The employment contract is concluded with one employer for the entire period of doctoral studies. The employer ensures the availability of work premises and equipment, compliance with health and safety requirements, reimbursement of business travel costs, etc.

Research and development activities related to the doctoral thesis must account for the bulk of working time, 75–80% depending on the requirements of the funder or employer. Tasks under the employment contract must align with the doctoral student's individual plan.

The job title of the doctoral student at the university and the research and development institution is junior research fellow. In another partner organisation, the job title is chosen according to the organisation's recruitment principles.

The period of the employment contract depends on the standard period of study and the conditions of the funder. Working full time, one can complete doctoral studies in three to four years. The period of study of a doctoral student, including suspensions of doctoral studies, may not exceed eight years unless the doctoral studies are suspended for caring for a child of up to three years of age or for conscription or alternative service in the Defence Forces.

Read more

Stages of work and contacts

An industrial doctorate is a long-term project that takes time to prepare and requires smooth joint action to be completed successfully. The main stages of the cooperation project, as well as the related key issues and contacts at the university are described below.

Parties to the cooperation agreement

Partner organisation: a private-, public- or third-sector body that does not have the right to award doctoral degrees and whose main contact persons are the doctoral student's supervisor and the signatory of the cooperation agreement (may be the same person). 

Academic unit of the university: institutes involved in the teaching, research and development at the university's four faculties, with the head of the institute and the doctoral student's supervisor as the main contact persons.

Structure of the university

On behalf of the university, the dean of the relevant faculty signs the cooperation agreement.

 

Industrial doctoral student 

An early-stage researcher willing to carry out research for a partner organisation. The parties to the cooperation agreement must inform the person interested in applying to the programme of the admission requirements and the doctoral student of the terms of the cooperation agreement. 

 

Support services within the university

Office of Academic Affairs: a support unit whose specialists and legal consels advise on the general organisation of admissions and doctoral studies and prepare a draft cooperation agreement.

Centre for doctoral studies: a faculty-level centre that coordinates activities related to doctoral studies and pools information on cooperation agreements. 

Centres for doctoral studies

The Grant Office and the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation: support units that process funding-related cooperation agreements and coordinate project management. The Grant Office pools and facilitates funding opportunities. The Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation provides guidance and support on intellectual property rights and confidentiality issues.

Research question

Generally, the research topic is proposed by the partner organisation with whose needs and activities the project will be linked. In some cases, the initiative may come from a research team at the university, who will find a suitable partner for the topic.

The partner organisation specifies the main objectives and research questions related to the topic, the opportunities arising from intellectual property rights, and which competencies a PhD holder is expected to have.

Supervisor      

The academic unit at the university assesses its supervision capacity within the proposed research topic and finds a potential supervisor, if possible.

Initial negotiations

The partners define the project's initial concept and agree on the principles of organising admission and the preferred time of matriculation. 

Assessment of the suitability of the candidate

If the partner organisation has a suitable candidate, a preliminary assessment of their suitability for doctoral studies can be made at this stage. For that, the candidate's CV must be sent to the academic unit of the university. If the candidate holds a master's degree from a foreign country, copies of educational documents must also be sent. An international candidate must also provide proof of the required level of English. Based on the CV, Student Admissions makes an initial assessment of the candidate's suitability.

If the partner organisation does not have a suitable candidate, the parties agree on organising a public competition.

For more information about organising admission, see the chapter "Finding the candidate and organising admission".

The university's academic unit sends the following information to the Office of Academic Affairs:

  • doctoral programme,
  • specialisation of the doctoral programme,
  • information about the employment contract (choice of employer and workload specified in the employment contract),
  • preferred date of matriculating the doctoral student,
  • place of research (incl. information on whether the doctoral student participates in a development project of the university and/or if the university offers resources related to the research),
  • supervisors,
  • topic of the doctoral thesis,
  • initial agreements regarding the division of costs related to the student place.

The legal counsel of the Office of Academic Affairs prepares a draft cooperation agreement that will be the basis for further negotiations. 

Contact person of the Office of Academic Affairs: Monika Tasa, monika.tasa@ut.ee, 737 6534

The partner organisation and the university's academic unit compile an activity plan for the project, agree on the division of costs related to the student place and prepare the cooperation agreement for signing. 

For more information about negotiations about the cooperation agreement, see the chapter "Cooperation negotiations".

The university's academic unit applies for a non-state-funded student place, after which the assessment and admission of the candidate can be organised. The final version of the cooperation agreement is required to open the student place.

If the partners have agreed that the university employs the doctoral student, also a state-funded student place can be used for the cooperation agreement. 

There are several funding options for the industrial doctorate: 1) funded by the partner organisation itself, 2) the partner organisation applies for external funding, or 3) the university applies for external funding. External funding generally covers only part of the costs related to the student place and workplace (see also the chapter "Funding"). 

The partner organisation can apply for funding from two measures:

  • "Inter-sectoral mobility support" measure from structural funds (application starts on 5 June 2023). More information in the regulations, ERC homepage, RTK homepage
  • grant for the recruitment of junior research fellows at positively evaluated R&D institutions (application started in December 2022).

To apply for funding from these measures, the data and schedule of the research project must be submitted. The university must be ready to matriculate the candidate or organise a competition. It is therefore strongly recommended to agree on the terms of the cooperation agreement before applying. 

Contacts: 

Grant for the recruitment of junior research fellows at positively evaluated R&D institutions : Pille Pikker, Pille.Pikker@hm.ee

"Inter-sectoral mobility support": Kaidi Rekker, kaidi.rekker@etag.ee

For more information about organising admission, see the chapter "Finding the candidate and organising admission".

If you have questions about admission, email phdadmissions@ut.ee or call +372 737 5621.

If it is agreed in the cooperation agreement that the university will receive the money, the signed agreement must be sent to

  • the Grant Office in case of a grant agreement or an agreement concluded with a public-sector institution;
  • the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in case of a service agreement concluded with a company.

The specialist at the support unit adds the project to the grant web, based on which the Finance Office opens the financial account. The budget must be used purposefully. 

Contact of the Grant Office: Annela Oona, annela.oona@ut.ee, +372 737 6539
Contact of the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation: Ülle Jagomägi
ulle.jagomagi@ut.ee, +372 737 4888

Immediately after the start of the project, the doctoral student, the supervisor from the partner organisation and the supervisor from the university attend a kick-off meeting to prepare for future collaboration. The expectations worksheet helps to conduct the first meeting. Within one month of the matriculation of the doctoral student, the supervision agreement is concluded between the doctoral student, the supervisor(s) and the university. 

Read more about the expectations worksheet and the supervision agreement

The doctoral student and the supervisor must proceed from the university's regulations on doctoral studies and the learning outcomes and compulsory activities of the doctoral programme. 

Read more about the programmes

In cooperation with the supervisor, the doctoral student plans the research and study activities for the entire study period in the individual plan to be submitted by the first progress review. The period plan lays down the activity plan for the following semester or year. 

Read more about the individual plan

The institute and the centre for doctoral studies agree with the doctoral student on the time of starting studies. The time of matriculation of an industrial doctoral student does not necessarily coincide with the start of the semester. It must therefore be specified when the university expects the doctoral candidate to be present at the university (information day, introductory course to doctoral studies, field-specific courses, etc.). 

At the University of Tartu, the progress review of doctoral students takes place twice in the first year of study and once a year later on. 

During the project, the following aspects must be considered:

  • the supervisor from the university ensures the quality of the research, and the supervisor from the partner organisation ensures the coherence of the project and its application at the partner organisation. Both the supervisor from the university and other university staff involved in doctoral studies help to monitor the doctoral student's compliance with university legislation and regulations. Changes of supervisors must be negotiated well in advance between all parties to the cooperation agreement; 
  • the doctoral student divides their time between the university and the partner organisation. Arrangements must be sufficiently clear and allow sufficient time for the doctoral student to carry out research and studies and interact with supervisors; 
  • doctoral studies presume getting international experience and building a professional network. The partners must clearly agree on who will fund the doctoral student's travel within Estonia and abroad. The latter must fit in with the doctoral student's individual plan and must not interfere with other study and research activities;
  • the progress of the doctoral student is assessed during the progress review. Partners must agree on whether the partner organisation participates in the work of the progress review committee and how it gets an overview of the student's progress;
  • all parties to the cooperation agreement must inform the others of any circumstances that may affect the progress of the doctoral student; 
  • the employer must inform the partner of amending or terminating the employment contract of the doctoral student.

Reaad more about the progress review

Read more about suspending doctoral studies

The project ends successfully if the doctoral student has fully completed the doctoral programme and defended the doctoral thesis.

In the cooperation agreement, the parties agree on whether the partner organisation participates in the work of the council awarding doctoral degrees.

The thesis of the industrial doctoral student is assessed on the same bases as other doctoral theses. When planning the project, it should be borne in mind that the doctoral student will normally be expected to publish papers. In justified cases, restrictions can be applied to publishing the doctoral thesis.

Read more about applying for the doctoral degree

Finding the candidate and organising admission

If the cooperation agreement specifies the university as the doctoral student's place of work, the university organises a public competition to find a candidate. If the doctoral student would work at the partner organisation, the partner organisation may submit an existing candidate to the university for evaluation or organise a public competition to fill the position. 

The candidate must meet the requirements for applying for doctoral studies at the university: have a master's degree or an equivalent qualification. An international candidate must prove that they meet the language requirements

The conditions for selecting the candidate are agreed upon in the cooperation agreement, proceeding from the university's admission rules for doctoral studies.

Before organising the competition or assessing the candidate, the supervisor from the university must apply for a non-state-funded student place. If the partners have agreed that the doctoral student is employed by the university, also a state-funded student place can be used for the cooperation agreement. University staff can find materials about that on the intranet.

Before the successful candidate can be matriculated, the partner organisation must confirm that it has concluded an employment contract fulfilling the individual plan with the future doctoral student.

The competition is organised by the university or the partner organisation.

Public competition of the University of Tartu

The competition is announced on the open calls page, and admission takes place according to the university's schedule and admission requirements for doctoral studies. 

The candidates will be assessed by the admission committee comprising representatives of the specialisation of the doctoral programme and a representative of the partner organisation.

Public competition of the partner organisation

When organising the public competition, the partner organisation must follow the general requirements concerning the qualifications and language skills of the student candidate. Other conditions for admission and the documents required for application are agreed upon in the cooperation agreement. The supervisor from the university is involved in assessing the candidates. If necessary, the Student Admissions unit of the university is involved in assessing the qualifications.

There are no time limits for organising the competition. It must be considered that  

  • a public competition can be announced only after the cooperation agreement has been signed and the rector has allocated a non-state-funded student place to the faculty;
  • the results of the competition must be known at least 20 days before the start of the employment contract and the study period.

To be matriculated to a doctoral programme, the successful candidate must submit an application for starting doctoral studies at the university, the template of which will be sent to the candidate after the competition closes.

If the industrial doctoral student works at the partner organisation and the partner has a suitable candidate, organising a public competition is not compulsory. In this case, the candidate must meet the general requirements regarding qualifications and language skills.

Other conditions for admission and the list of required documents (incl. the application for doctoral studies on the template provided by the university) are agreed upon in the cooperation agreement. The assessment of the candidate aims to ensure that they are suitable for doctoral studies and able to meet the research objectives. The university may ask the candidate to submit the doctoral thesis project describing the planned research and development or another type of written work and a CV. In addition, the candidate will be interviewed by a committee consisting of both the supervisor from the university and a representative of the partner. 

The following deadlines must be followed:

  • a non-state-funded student place must be applied for at least 30 calendar days before the start of the employment contract and the study period;
  • the admission decision must be made at least 20 days before the studies start.

News and Media

Image
Jaan Vihalemm
Jaan Vihalemm (author: Andres Tennus)

Industrial doctoral student combines work and studies

The industrial doctorate offers a unique opportunity for companies, universities and doctoral students to work together. An excellent example of this is Jaan Vihalemm, an industrial doctoral student at the University of Tartu, who applies the results of his research at the company BiotaTec OÜ. Continue reading

Image
BSc Loodusteadused ja tehnoloogia Science and Technology

University brings top professionals and future technologies to Ida-Viru County

Alongside the creation of new technologies, Ida-Virumaa's transition to a sustainable economic model requires diversified skills and support for the development of research-intensive businesses. Closer cooperation between research institutions and companies operating in the region is a prerequisite for this, according to the opinions exchanged in a recent seminar in Narva between research groups from the University of Tartu and the region's just transition leaders. Continue reading

diplomid

Doctoral Defense: Natàlia Pujol Gualdo "Decoding genetic associations of female reproductive health traits"

Jaan Vihalemm

Industrial doctoral student combines work and studies

Doctoral defence: Üllas Linder "Adam Reinhold Schiewe. Biography of the Founder of the First Estonian Baptist Congregation"

10. juunil kell 16.15 kaitseb Üllas Linder religiooniuuringute erialal doktoritööd „Adam Reinhold Schiewe. Esimese Eesti baptistikoguduse rajaja elulugu“.