Circular cyber-physical product as a service (PaaS) infrastructure

   Dyson School of Design Engineering

This project is no longer listed on and may not be available.

Click here to search for PhD studentship opportunities
  Prof Robert Shorten, Dr Elena Dieckmann  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

A full-time research position (3 years) is available at the Dyson School of Design Engineering, Imperial College London, to participate in a European project with the overall goal of Digital Transition of the Circular Economy.

This project is part of a Marie-Curie Doctoral Network, iCircular3 (Intelligent circular lifecycles of industrial robots, outdoor power products, and electric vehicles). There are seven partners, four industry (KUKA Robotics, Ireland; IOTA Stiftung, Germany; Future Mobility Campus, Ireland and Husqvarna, Sweden) and three academic (University College Dublin, Ireland; Imperial College London, UK; Jönköping University, Sweden), who together, will host 9 PhDs. The successful candidate will be based within the Dyson School of Design, Imperial College London, where the PhD Candidate will be located in the I3-Lab (imperial-IOTA-Infrastructures) within Prof. Robert Shortens research group, seconded at Future Mobility Campus Ireland (FMCI) and Husqvarna (HUS). As part of the Marie Curie training programme, the candidate will spend a secondment period of 3 months at FMCI, Ireland and 3 months at HUS in Sweden.

About the Project

Circularity has opened new markets and business opportunities, domestically and outside the EU. However, opportunities are being missed due to low reuse and recycling rates. iCircular3 creates a cohort of future leaders in research, policy, and business through its innovative training programme focused on the Circular Economy. Three leading universities supported by four industry partners will address the incorporation of circular economy principles using digital technologies throughout the product lifecycle, for three innovative and strategic sectors of the European economy: industrial robots, outdoor power products, and electric vehicles.

Each sector will explore the possibilities of a circular lifecycle through four perspectives:

1.      Product and service design: exploring opportunities for circularity in the design of outdoor power products, electric vehicles, and industrial robots.

2.      Reverse supply chains: understanding and overcoming recovery barriers in these industries.

3.      Users and stakeholders: ensuring stakeholder engagement in the transition towards more circularity, for instance by engaging outdoor power product consumers in the development of Reverse Logistics systems and improving the recycling rates of electric vehicles from a consumer perspective.

4.      Systems: developing digital tools and decision support systems that foster circularity.

 iCircular3 will recruit and train 9 Researchers to conduct sector-specific projects related to circular lifecycle perspectives; combined, the projects will contribute to the development of new guidelines and digital tools for the integration of circularity in industry, as well as the identification of cross-sector commonalities. The strong academic/industry interaction in iCircular3 will ensure the relevance of each research project. Researchers will receive high-level industry-led research training and professional development courses, with a view to opening their career perspectives.

The specific goal of this project is to build a digital tool to enable product as a service infrastructure. This is based on different ownership models, for single-owner goods and shared goods such as outdoor power products or Evs. The digital tool and infrastructure should enable such products and services to be deployed. Issues to be explored include digital notions of identity, ownership, and sovereignty, as well as markets where such goods can be exchanged. Algorithms for dimensioning services, and congestion management, will be developed and implemented as part of our solution. The applicability of the developed tool will be tested based on case studies in FMCI and HUS.


The successful candidate is offered a 3-year full-time contract with Imperial College London. Additionally, they will receive highly specialised training, making them an expert in circular economy and its digital transition as well as being aware of market opportunities. The candidate will benefit from a training scheme developed based on the expertise of academic and industrial partners. This project will reach a new level of understanding of the circular economy of long-lasting products and how circular life cycles and business models can be created, with directly applicable results to European industry.

Qualifications / Expertise:

Applicants must hold a Master’s degree in computer science, mathematical sciences, design engineering, electrical engineering, data science, machine learning or equivalent as appropriate to their specific project topic. This position requires advanced software development knowledge and maths.

·        The candidate should be able to display a strong aptitude and enthusiasm for Engineering Research at postgraduate level.

·        Applications from suitably qualified female applicants are particularly welcome.

Key Responsibilities:

·        To manage and carry out their research projects within 36 months

·        To write a PhD thesis

·        To write articles for scientific peer-reviewed journals

·        To write progress reports and prepare results for publication and dissemination via public lectures, presentations and the web

·        To participate in research and training activities within the iCircular3 network

·        To disseminate their research in the scientific community (international conferences) and non-scientific community, by outreach and public engagement

·        To liaise with the other research staff and students working in broad areas of relevance to the research project and partner institutions.

Funding Agency:

The project is funded by the UKRI.

Start Date:

From January 2023 – June 2023

How to Apply:

To begin the process, please first read the descriptions of the research topic. The topic is not firmly fixed, and it may change as the successful candidate develops their PhD proposal.

Please send your application file (incl. the four points described below) in PDF format using this google form (sign-in required):

If you couldn't get access to the google form, please email your application file in PDF format to [Email Address Removed]

For the Swedish positions (R3 and R4), the application must be also submitted through JU’s recruitment system, Varbi ( 

Engineering (12) Environmental Sciences (13)

Funding Notes

Recruited researchers can be of any nationality and must comply with the following mobility rule: they must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work,
studies, etc.) in the country of the recruiting beneficiary for more than 12 months in the 36 months immediately before their recruitment date.
Search Suggestions
Search suggestions

Based on your current searches we recommend the following search filters.