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MAPS LED research project

Opportunity for supporting field work in the USA for SoBE PhD students on the MAPS LED research project  

The School of the Built Environment (SoBE) at the University of Salford is offering financial support to PhD students in order to allow them to carry out field work in the USA (Boston, Massachusetts, San Diego, California) associated with the Multidisciplinary Approach to Planning of Specialization Strategies (S3) to enhance Local Economic Development (MAPS-LED) research programme (for further details click here).

PhD students can either be already enrolled in a SoBE PhD programme for no longer than 1 year as at 1st April 2017, or in the process of applying for a position as a PhD student at the SoBE through the ordinary process, latest entry point 1st October 2016. Guidance on how to apply can be found here

Priority in the selection of successful candidates will be given to new applicants, provided that the research topic meets the requirements of this call.  

Please note that:

  • All students are expected to cover their tuition fees autonomously: the MAPS-LED funds only cover travel and accommodation expenses up to a maximum allowance of 2.000€ per month (all included). 
  • New applicants are requested to put their application forward through the ordinary web based procedure and to apply for these funds by sending a further application as explained below.  
  • All students will be expected to spend between 6 and 12 months in the USA within their 3 year PhD programme at SoBE.
  • International students participating in the project are not exempt from accomplishing all the requirements for immigration policy: check with the immigration office your eligibility to participate in the program by spending at last 6 months outside the UK before sending your application for the MAPS LED funds.

Field work must compulsorily contribute to achieving the MAPS LED aims and contributing fulfilling its deliverables.  MAPS LED aims at investigating how S3 strategies can be implemented, according to the new agenda of Europe 2020, within a spatial – led perspective approaching the built environment in a wider perspective, capable to incorporate environmental and social impacts.

The main goal of MAPS LED is to identify and examine S3 taking account of local needs and opportunities driving regional policy interventions. Key areas of interest include key enabling technologies, local innovation processes, tacit knowledge, embedded social networks, and innovative milieu. The MAPS-LED programme starts from place-based framework and includes two important drivers: 1) Cluster policy and cluster-based analysis; 2) Innovative milieu in terms of local value chains.

The SoBE unit major task is to build and test a novel assessment tool that allows stakeholders to evaluate the wider impacts of S3 related interventions.  

Possible topics to be selected by the PhD students include:

  • Smart specialisation and innovation clusters in a place- based and spatially- led perspective  
  • Spatial features that support successful innovation clusters and S3
  • Governance systems that facilitate social and economic innovation in cities 
  • Methods to holistically assess the value of social and environmental change
  • The role of big data in creating and supporting shared knowledge
  • The role of cultural heritage in reinforcing S3 oriented strategies

How to apply for MAPS LED financial support


  • Candidates are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. Applications are welcomed in line with the requirement to start the PhD latest on 1st October. 2016
  • Successful applicants are expected to start their secondment between October 2016 and April 2017.


All applicants must complete and submit the following documentation: 

  1. A cover letter, including details whether the candidate is a new applicant or a PhD student already enrolled;
  2. CV;
  3. Research abstract (maximum 1.000 words), including clarification on how the individual research undertaken as PhD makes a significant contribution to the MAPS LED program.

Documents must be submitted as pdf files to the following address: clearly stating in the email subject: MAPS LED application. Candidate: (Name and surname of the candidate)