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A People-led digital supply chain hub to transform the manufacturing sector in Northeast of England (RDF23/MOS/SHOKRI)

   Faculty of Business and Law

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  Dr Alireza Shokri, Dr Adrian Small  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Transforming UK manufacturing through digitally empowered supply chains that are resilient, sustainable, and efficient is the future of the manufacturing sector. One mechanism in achieving this goal is the creation of a knowledge hub and support network. Convening stakeholders across the UK manufacturing landscape requires a digital innovation ecosystem to advance and accelerate the understanding and inclusion of digital technology in UK supply chains. Digital supply chain hubs across UK will be the platform that enables stakeholders to co-convene their digitally transformed supply chain in a more transparent and sustainable way, using advanced technologies. The digital supply chain hubs address contemporary supply chain challenges such as supply chain risk and resilience; supply chain sustainability and Net Zero; End-to-End supply chain visibility; circular economy; supply chain finance; and last mile logistics. The regional establishment of digital supply chain hubs is necessary to facilitate better national supply chain connectivity, visibility, coordination, transparency, and efficiency. The Northeast of England, however, is lagging even with the significant investment of automotive, renewable energy and food manufacturing sectors in this region. Our Marketing Operations and Systems (MOS) department is currently working with its partners including National Digital Supply Chin Testbeds and Made Smarter Innovate centres to develop the first Northeast digital supply chain hub. Despite the existence of some digital supply chain hubs and national digital supply chain testbeds, there is no specific research found to assess significant factors in launching, development, and smooth operation of these digital supply chain hubs. Our aim is to investigate the current digital supply chain and innovation landscape of the manufacturing sector in northeast of England, future aspirations in digital supply chain, strategic barriers, opportunities and key success and failure factors in launching and managing the digital supply chain hub. The question we will answer in this research project is:

“How does a people-led digital supply chain hub need to be launched, developed and operated to maximise supply chain resilience, sustainability and efficiency in the manufacturing sector of Northeast of England?”

The project will start with a multi-disciplinary review of existing literature including digital supply chain management, supply chain collaboration, efficiency and resilience that will lead to the development of a conceptual framework. This is followed by participant observation and mixed method data collection where the researcher will participate in launching and the development of the digital supply chain hub with a critical lens, while collecting data through survey questionnaire, interviewing potential stakeholders, and focus groups facilitated by National Digital Supply Chain Testbeds, Advanced Manufacturing Forum (AMF) and Supply Chain Directory database. The integration of digital supply chain with manufacturing maintenance has recently been studied by us through an Innovate UK funded project and recent journal paper submission (Shokri et al., 2022). The outcome of this research project is a validated practical framework for the digital supply chain hub stakeholders and participants. Our result contributes into Technological-Organizational-Environmental framework (TOE) theory (Srivastava et al., 2022), and Socio-technical system theory (Sony and Naik, 2020).

Academic Enquiries

This project is supervised by Dr Alireza Shokri. For informal queries, please contact Dr Alireza Shokri ([Email Address Removed]). For all other enquiries relating to eligibility or application process please use the email form below to contact Admissions. 

Funding Information

Home and International students (inc. EU) are welcome to apply. The studentship is available to Home and International (including EU) students and includes a full stipend at UKRI rates (for 2022/23 full-time study this is £17,668 per year) and full tuition fees. Studentships are also available for applicants who wish to study on a part-time basis over 5 years (0.6 FTE, stipend £10,600 per year and full tuition fees) in combination with work or personal responsibilities).  

Please also see further advice below of additional costs that may apply to international applicants.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
  • Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
  • Applicants cannot apply for this funding if they are already a PhD holder or if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

Please note: to be classed as a Home student, candidates must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or
  • have settled status, or
  • have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
  • have indefinite leave to remain or enter.

If a candidate does not meet the criteria above, they would be classed as an International student.  Applicants will need to be in the UK and fully enrolled before stipend payments can commence, and be aware of the following additional costs that may be incurred, as these are not covered by the studentship.

  • Immigration Health Surcharge https://www.gov.uk/healthcare-immigration-application
  • If you need to apply for a Student Visa to enter the UK, please refer to the information on https://www.gov.uk/student-visa. It is important that you read this information very carefully as it is your responsibility to ensure that you hold the correct funds required for your visa application otherwise your visa may be refused.
  • Check what COVID-19 tests you need to take and the quarantine rules for travel to England https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-to-england-from-another-country-during-coronavirus-covid-19
  • Costs associated with English Language requirements which may be required for students not having completed a first degree in English, will not be borne by the university. Please see individual adverts for further details of the English Language requirements for the university you are applying to.

How to Apply

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see


For applications to be considered for interview, please include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words and the advert reference (e.g. RDF23/…).

Deadline for applications: 27 January 2023

Start date of course: 1 October 2023 tbc


Shokri, A. Toliyat, S. Skoumpopoulou, D. Hu, S. Li, G. and Ojra, A. (2022), Assessing integration of spare part inventory management and predictive maintenance as a digital supply chain solution: multi methods in automotive supply chain. International Journal of Production Research (under review)
Sony, M., Naik, S. (2020). Industry 4.0 integration with socio-technical systems theory: A systematic review and proposed theoretical model. Technology in Society, 61
Srivastava, D., Kumar, V., Ekren, B., Upadhyay, A., Tyagi, M., & Kumari, A. (2022). Adopting Industry 4.0 by leveraging organizational factors. Technological Forecasting And Social Change, 176, 121439. DOI: 10.1016/j.techfore.2021.121439

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