Internship, Environmental Sustainability Knowledge Transfer Network – Natural Environment Research Council

The Environmental Sustainability Knowledge Transfer Network, on behalf of the Natural Environment Research Council, invites existing researchers to apply for internships of between one and six months, based in businesses and third sector organisations.
Interns will explore and demonstrate how business or third sector partners can make use of scientific knowledge, data and valuation tools to understand and manage their impacts and/or dependencies on ecosystem services. The internships offer appointees excellent opportunity for extending their research experience into business, industrial or other settings.
The objectives of the scheme are to:
  • Initiate collaborations between academics and business or third sector organisation partners, leading to the application of ecosystem services approaches in longer term self-sustaining activities undertaken by partners
  • Generate evidence and case studies of how businesses and other organisations have used or could use ecosystem services approaches, in collaboration with academics, to introduce innovation into their business
  • Provide evidence concerning the effectiveness of policies intended to facilitate the development of ecosystem services approaches by businesses and third sector organisations.
Projects must identify clear examples of where ecosystem service approaches could be used to make a real difference to business decision-making, starting from a clear articulation of the user needs and drawing on existing science and expertise.
Projects must identify how the ecosystem services approach can feed into business tools and processes, or into the way ecosystems are currently managed, identifying current gaps and potential future science needs.
This call defines the ecosystem services approach as:
1.         The exploitation of new market opportunities generated by the Natural Environment White Paper and other changes in environmental policy at either national or European level (e.g. payment for ecosystem services, ecosystem restoration and biodiversity offsets)
2.         The valuation of environmental consequences and cost-benefit analyses of business partners’ choices, with a special focus on comparing those technologies reliant on ecosystem functions with approaches based on more traditional engineering. More generally, this includes comparison of the implications for ecosystems of different management choices open to the business partner (including resource saving approaches). Cost-benefit analyses of environmental policies may also be included, if they could be used to inform policies for the development of an ecosystem services approach, or better management of the environment by business and third sector organisations.
3.         The assessment of the dependencies of companies on services provided by the environment, and the risks that environmental change poses to them.
4.         The engagement of stakeholders in non-monetary evaluation of ecosystem services.
Each project will involve at least one business or third sector partner, and one or more researchers, working collaboratively to ensure that the business partner makes maximum use of the knowledge and data provided. The focus must be a topic where ecosystem service approaches have potential to affect decision making. NERC anticipates a varied range of projects involving different economic sectors.
All researchers currently employed in the UK on topics within NERC remits are eligible, including PhD students (provided they are at least in their second year of research). For details on eligibility criteria, please refer to the rules set for NERC Fellows handbook and NERC Studentships
These two documents also establish the general principles for internships for matters not specified here, but the present call shall prevail in case of discrepancies.
Duration of the internship
Internships may last for a period of between one and six months. Appointees may work either full time or part time on the project, and the time to be committed to the internship should be spelled out clearly in the proposal.
Interns are generally expected to spend between 50 and 100% of their allocated time in the partner organisation’s premises; the exact proportion to be agreed with the partner (and the intern’s supervisor, when he or she is a PhD student). Some projects may require time to be spent at other locations in the UK or abroad. An outline of the anticipated time to be spent at different locations should be given at the application stage and evidence concerning this agreement must be provided in the supporting letter.
Conditions of work
All interns must adhere to their employer’s and the host organisation’s requirements of independence from direct commercial interest. Interns will need to undertake to respect a confidentiality agreement specifying that data which is the property of the business partner organisation, and matters of internal debate, will not be disclosed without prior written agreement of the partner organisation.
At the end of the project, a case study will be required summarising the activities undertaken, the impact achieved, the learning from the project and any follow-up activity. Business partner organisations must be willing for this information to be disseminated as appropriate; confidential matters will be respected, as above.
Process and time scale:
This call will open on 24th April 2012. The closing date for applications is 15th June 2012 at 5pm.
NERC funding up to £20,000 is available for each project, with the total available funding amounting to £100,000.
Applicants should complete the application form downloadable from the ESKTN Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services website and return it directly to Anna Baginska at the ESKTN at the address at the bottom of this call.
Proposals should provide a detailed breakdown of direct costs, as detailed in the NERC Grant Handbook (e.g. these include salary plus travel and subsistence costs). Up to 40% of indirect costs may also be included. Details of the company contributions should also be included, both direct financial support (if any) and in-kind support, plus a detailed plan of the time that will be committed working in the business/remotely.
Similar NERC internship programmes have previously been undertaken with policy makers and through the PURE network. Case study examples can be found at
You may contact ESKTN for an informal discussion by e-mailing the Administrator, Anna Baginska on  or telephoning 01865 610505.
Applications should be addressed to:
Anna Baginska, Administrator,
Environmental Sustainability Knowledge Transfer Network
University of Oxford
Begbroke Science Park
Yarnton, Kidlington
Oxford OX5 1PF

Read more about the position here.