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Zinc PhD Student Innovation Internships 2024



Posted over 30 days ago...

Seize the chance to transform your PhD research into impactful startup innovation with Zinc's mission-driven internship


icon Salary

No salary declared 😔

icon Location

London United Kingdom

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98% Remote- UK

icon Expires

Expires at anytime

Organisation summary

Zinc is a launchpad for mission-led startups tackling significant societal challenges. Engaging in fields such as mental health, healthy ageing, financial resilience, and environmental protection, Zinc fosters ventures from inception through a venture-builder program, followed by an acceleration phase with continued support. Their unique ecosystem blends research with entrepreneurial action, making real-world impacts and offering a dynamic environment for interns to thrive in.

Role Summary

  • Engage in a 3-month internship with early-stage startups.
  • Apply and enhance your research skills in a practical, entrepreneurial setting.
  • Contribute to startups with a strong social mission aligned with one of Zinc's four missions.
  • Experience part-time or full-time placement flexibility.
  • Participate in a collaborative, research-rich development team.

Role Requirements

  • Must be a UK PhD student with funding arrangements allowing for industry placement participation.
  • Strong interest in one of Zinc's mission areas: mental health, future of work, healthy ageing, or environmental sustainability.
  • Ability to design and conduct high-quality research independently.
  • Outstanding communication skills and the ability to synthesize information effectively.
  • Flexibility in a dynamic startup environment and a proactive team player attitude.
  • Passionate about making a meaningful contribution to society through innovation.

Application Process Details

  • Indicate your preferred start date in your application.
  • Submit a CV and a personalized cover letter by 12pm on August 25th, detailing your interest in the internship, relevant skills, research expertise, and chosen mission area.
  • Include an overview of your funding circumstances.
  • Expect a response within 2 weeks after submission.

Applications are open for our innovation internships, where UK PhD students join a 3-month internship to get first-hand experience of working with 1-2 mission-led, early-stage startups. This is an exciting opportunity for PhD students who want to apply their research skills and knowledge to work with entrepreneurs and ventures, and to learn what it takes to build and run a commercial start-up with a big social mission. Researchers will be 'matched' with 1-2 Zinc startups and have the opportunity to apply and advance their skills with these early, entrepreneurial teams.

Applicants must have a strong interest in one of Zinc’s broad missions to:

  • Improve physical and mental health of people and support healthy ageing
  • Improve health of planet and reduce environmental harms
  • Tackle challenges relating to the future of work and improving financial resilience

We expect placements to be full-time but will accommodate part-time working where possible. Candidates should indicate in their application when they would prefer to start a placement with us, and we will take that into account where possible.

Important eligibility note: We are only able to host interns whose funding arrangements will cover the costs of their involvement in this placement (e.g. Research Council placements funding), as we do not currently fund students' placements ourselves. Self-funded students may also apply, as long extending their studentship by participating in this sort of placement will not negatively affect them.

What are these Innovation Internships?

Innovation Internships are three-month placements with Zinc, available to anyone whose funding includes provision for a period in industry as part of their studentship. Our Innovation Internships allow students to spend time working closely with founders in one of several Zinc portfolio companies. These Internships offer PhD students a chance to get a different sort of industry experience, an exciting alternative to joining a big corporate organisation or public sector body.

Innovation Internships are open to students interested in any one of our mission areas. Students will be matched with 1-2 ventures with whom they will apply and advance their skills, as well as having support and guidance from Zinc.


Innovation Internships are open to any PhD student whose funding arrangements cover time spent on this placement. For the Innovation Internships, we can accept applications from students including from both SHAPE and STEMM disciplines. You might have expertise in data science or computer science; you might bring skills in design, or qualitative research, or psychometrics.

Passion for one of our missions is paramount and we are especially keen to hear from students whose research is in a field relevant to the mission they are interested in and/or who have relevant professional or voluntary experience in this area. We are also looking for students with a strong interest in learning more about how research can be used in evidence-based, mission-focused early-stage innovation.

Beyond this, we will look for evidence of the following skills and attributes:

  • Ability to help design and deliver high-quality research: You'll have experience in designing and implementing research projects from scratch and feel comfortable with the idea of doing that in a new context (with support, of course!).
  • Excellent communication skills: You’ll need to have outstanding written and oral communications skills and be comfortable initiating and holding conversations with people at different levels of seniority, and with people from different personal and professional backgrounds.
  • Information synthesis and report-writing skills: You’ll need to be able to process and synthesise information from different disciplines and fields, and to report key findings clearly and succinctly.
  • Flexibility and ability to respond positively to changing circumstances: You can plan and execute research in a fast-paced, agile environment, working to tight deadlines.
  • Team player: Although much of your work will be self-directed, you’ll be part of Zinc’s growing Research & Development team and will join a cross-disciplinary cohort of Innovation Internships placed across Zinc and our portfolio ventures. An interest in and ability to work with people from different backgrounds is important to the role.
  • Effective, positive and proactive: You are organised and hands-on, and able to use initiative to make decisions. A positive, “can-do” attitude is essential.


This is an exciting opportunity for PhD students to:

  • Get a different sort of “industry” experience. This is a chance to gain commercial experience in a supportive, research-led environment where the primary focus is on addressing complex societal challenges.
  • Develop knowledge and understanding of early-stage innovation and the role of research within that. At Zinc, we believe that the best way to learn is by doing. Being immersed in the work of an early-stage start-up will give you a deeper and richer understanding of research in innovation than any amount of theoretical training could confer.
  • Gain experience in translating research and research-based expertise into clear information resources for use in commercial contexts. Develop your ability communicate research findings and research-related insights in a clear, concise and accessible way that is useful in the context of early-stage commercial innovation.
  • Broaden your network in a multi-disciplinary, cross-sectoral environment. Zinc team members, venture founders and our wide network of expert Visiting Fellows come from diverse disciplinary and sectoral backgrounds. You'll have a chance to engage with people across our network and, in doing so, to build your own network.
  • Benefit from the support of our in-house Research & Development team. You’ll have access to Zinc’s in-house R&D team, all of whom have come from research backgrounds like yours and can provide help and advice.
  • Make a meaningful contribution to the development of new products and services in areas you care about. We want you to do something that feels important to you while you're with us. By joining a company that works in an area you care about, you'll have a chance to input to the development of products and services that you believe will deliver positive impacts in an important mission area.

Background on Zinc

Zinc builds research-rich, mission-focused start-ups that respond to big societal challenges. Our start-ups create new products and services intended to improve the health of people and planet.

Start-ups are created through our venture-builder programme, which brings together people from diverse communities and professional backgrounds in a full-time programme of content, support and development here in London. Founders receive six months of intensive support and have a chance both to meet an extraordinary co-founder within their cohort, and to receive investment in their new venture once they incorporate.

At the end of the six-month venture-builder programme, Zinc invests in new companies created during that programme, who stay with us for ‘Accelerate’ - a further six months of personal and business development support with a focus on understanding user needs, developing their product and defining their value proposition.

As well as supporting founders within any given venture-builder and Accelerate cohort, we provide ongoing support to our portfolio of existing companies, created during previous Zinc venture-builders.

Research is central to our work. Our growing in-house Research & Development (R&D) team helps founders to connect with researchers and use existing research, as well as to design and implement high-quality research of their own. Away from the venture-builder, we promote work at the intersections of research and innovation through things like our delivery of the UKRI Healthy Ageing Catalyst Awards, by running independent research and development programmes, and by creating new opportunities (including these Internships!) for researchers to explore the world of early-stage innovation.

Additional information

Modes of work: We encourage in-person work where possible, but there is plenty of scope for a hybrid work model, including remote work where that is preferable.

Diversity and Inclusion: Diversity is important to us, and our founders come diverse personal and professional backgrounds. We are similarly committed to supporting individuals from diverse backgrounds to participate in our Innovation Internships and encourage applicants from any and all backgrounds to apply for this opportunity.

Supervisory Approval: Please do talk about this opportunity with your PhD supervisor(s) and/or DTP team before applying. You will be required to confirm that you have supervisory approval for your participation in the Zinc Innovation Internship Programme before we can accept you onto this programme.

Please note: This is an unpaid internship. We are only able to host interns whose funding arrangements will cover the costs of their involvement in this placement (e.g. Research Council placements funding). It is applicants’ own responsibility to check that their registration and visa status are compatible with the requirement of this internship before they apply. Please indicate your funding circumstances in your cover letter. Please note that, at present, these internships are only open to UK PhD students.

When you apply, you will be asked to submit a CV and a cover letter. You should use your cover letter to tell us why you're keen to join us as an Innovation Intern, what you think you'd bring to Zinc and what you hope to get from this experience. Please include an overview of your disciplinary field and area(s) of research expertise and make sure you tell us which of Zinc's missions you're interested in and why you're passionate about that mission. Please also indicate your current funding circumstances, including whether you have funding for an industry placement.

Once we have received your CV and cover letter, we aim to be in touch within 2 weeks.

For informal queries or additional information please email [email removed - click apply for more details]


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