Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research (SSF) Industrial PhD Student Program

The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research (SSF) is investing SEK 39 million in the Industrial PhD Student Program to support 12 doctoral students in research and postgraduate training. The program aims to enhance collaboration between academia and industry while ensuring the students attain their doctoral degrees.

Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research (SSF) Industrial PhD Student Program
Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research (SSF) Industrial PhD Student Program

This initiative focuses on promoting research in natural science, technology, and medicine, which are priority areas for SSF. By having joint doctoral students from industry and universities, the program aims to increase cooperation, drive innovation, and produce highly attractive candidates for the Swedish industry.

The program is open to individuals who have not yet started postgraduate studies. During the grant period, the doctoral students must conduct research and be at least 80% employed by a company. They must have two supervisors, one from the university and one from the company, and the institution must be based in Sweden.

The program with a grant amount of SEK 3.25 million, aims to cover approximately half of the typical cost of a doctoral student project. It aims to facilitate collaboration between academia and industry, allowing doctoral students to work on research projects that are relevant to industries. This program focuses on strategic areas such as advanced manufacturing, information technology, life sciences, energy, and transportation.


The application deadline for SSF is May 21, 2024.

Benefits of Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research (SSF) Industrial PhD Student Program

The grant is SEK 3.25 million, roughly half the typical cost of a doctoral student project.

Eligibility Criteria 

Eligibility Criteria:

  • The grant supports research and postgraduate studies in natural science, engineering, or medicine for an industrial doctoral student, involving collaboration between industry and academia.
  • At least two qualified supervisors must oversee the doctoral student: one from a higher education institution (HEI) and one from a company. Both supervisors should be established within their organizations and form the project’s steering group.
  • The main applicant, serving as the HEI supervisor, is responsible for reporting to SSF. The main applicant must work at a Swedish HEI, be employed at least 80% of the time, and administer the grant.
  • The co-applicant, serving as the company supervisor, must work at least 80% of the time at a commercially viable company capable of supporting the doctoral student’s work. The company should benefit from and contribute to the project’s knowledge, ideally based in or near Sweden.
  • There should be no questionable personal ownership ties between academia and business. If clinical research is involved, the industrial party can be a hospital instead of a company. Industrial research institutes cannot represent either party.
  • The industrial doctoral student must not be enrolled in doctoral studies at the application time but must be admitted to the program and employed by the company before the project begins. The student must be at least 80% employed by the company throughout the grant period, dedicating four years of full-time work to the project, with up to 20% allowed for other activities funded by the HEI.
  • An applicant can only submit one application, whether as a main applicant or co-applicant. Main applicants with ongoing SSF industrial doctoral student grants cannot apply if there’s an overlap in grant periods.

How to Apply for Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research (SSF) Industrial PhD Student Program

When applying, make sure to include:

  • A research plan (up to 5 pages) jointly developed by the company and the HEI, covering planned activities between them.
  • CV and list of publications for both applicants.
  • Letters of intent from the academic and industrial parties, expressing commitment to the project and signed by the department head (or equivalent) at the HEI and the research director (or equivalent) at the company. Ensure practical arrangements are in place and that supervisors have necessary support and time allocated.
  • Brief description of the prospective doctoral student and required qualifications.
  • Strategic relevance and expected societal impact over a 10-15-year period.
  • Explanation of how intellectual property rights will be handled contractually.
  • Budget details.
  • Description of the company, including corporate ID number, employee count, turnover, business activities, and a link to the website.
  • Any existing or past dependencies between the company, doctoral student, HEI, and supervisors.

Visit the Official Website:

The official website for SSF is: https://strategiska.se/en/call-for-proposal/apply-for-ssf-industrial-phd-student-2024/

Evaluation Process for Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research (SSF) Industrial PhD Student Program

The Industrial PhD Student Program will be evaluated by a committee of experts from academia and industry. They’ll consider:

  • The scientific quality of the proposed research.
  • The strategic relevance and expected impact on industry and society.
  • Mutual commitment declared by both parties.
  • The qualifications of the supervisors.
  • Ensuring no inappropriate financial or personal dependencies exist between the company, doctoral student, HEI, and supervisors.


The SSF Industrial PhD Student Program offers a valuable opportunity for doctoral students to engage in impactful research that bridges academia and industry. By meeting the eligibility criteria, submitting a strong application, and adhering to program priorities, applicants can maximize their chances of success in this competitive and rewarding program.


Are international students eligible for the program?

The program is primarily aimed at Swedish companies and institutions. However, international students may be eligible if they meet all other criteria and are affiliated with a Swedish host company.

How long is the program duration?

The duration of the program can vary but typically spans the duration of the PhD studies, which is usually around four years.

Can I apply if I already have a PhD degree?

The program is designed for doctoral students pursuing their PhD degrees. Applicants who already hold a PhD degree may not be eligible.



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