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Engineering: UKRI EPSRC CDT EngD Scholarship: The Formulation of Recombinant Collagen Materials as Coatings in Medical Devices

   School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

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About the Project

Sponsor Company: ProColl

Funding Provider: UKRI EPSRC CDT Studentship

Subject Area: Functional Coatings

Project start date:  

  • 1 October 2023 (Enrolment open from mid-September) 

Project Supervisors:

Aligned programme of study: EngD in Materials, Modelling and Manufacturing

Mode of study: Full-time

Expected Interview Date: March-April 2023


ProColl is a supplier of bovine and recombinant collagen for application within medical devices, cell culture, tissue engineering, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics. The company was founded as a spin out from Swansea University in 2018 to bring to market the improved scale production of collagen with exceptional quality and purity. The company then developed techniques to produce recombinant collagen to answer the market need for animal free collagen that is more biocompatible, ethically robust and removes the risk of interspecies transfer of disease. 

Collagen is the most abundant protein within the human body and plays a central role in the maintenance and repair of all organs and tissues. Collagen has a structural role as the glue that anchors and houses cells within the extracellular matrix of tissues. Thus, it is one of the most industrially important proteins with applications as a functional, structural material in medicine, cosmetics, and food. Within medicine and cell research collagen is predominantly used as a gel or a coating; the collagen is used to coat cell culture materials to allow adhesion and subsequent development of the cells. Through collaboration with Swansea University, ProColl currently produce recombinant human Type I collagen molecules with the view to expand this to other collagen types.

The research of the project will develop advanced materials in the form of new recombinant collagen materials and novel collagen formulations that are optimised for the coating of surfaces and application within cell culture, tissue engineering and wound healing. The recombinant collagen will be produced through fermentation in a sustainable process that removes the need for bovine sources and their accompanying impact on the environment. In addition, alternative raw materials for the fermentation will be investigated to further improve sustainability. The collagen surfaces will be characterised in terms of coating film morphology, biocompatibility and mechanical resilience using advanced techniques including atomic force microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, dynamic and fatigue testing systems, and cell culture. The project will examine different coating methods such as layer by layer, lyophilisation, spray coating, casting and electrospinning to control the morphology and functionality of the collagen coatings.

Project Aims:

The outcomes of the project will be the creation of new and improved processes for the manufacture of recombinant collagen. A range of novel surface coatings will be developed that are optimised for application within research and medicine. The research needed to achieve these outcomes will provide comprehensive and novel insights into collagen materials which is of interest to the academic community and will be published. The research will also be disseminated at key international conferences. ProColl will commercialise the new processes and products creating industrial impact and benefit to Welsh and UK economies. ProColl also envisage that on completion of the EngD the student will be highly qualified with relevant experience with the aim to be employed by the company to commercialise the processes and products of the research project.

The project requires a person who is able to work at the interface between the life sciences and engineering. You will be expected to spend at least one day a week undertaking their research at the ProColl’s energy positive site in Bay Technology Centre, Baglan Energy Park. You will also be required to travel to conferences and workshops to disseminate the findings of the project.


COATED M2A recognises applicants have a variety of backgrounds with different educational and research experiences. We do not expect applicants to be proficient users of any techniques/equipment mentioned, at the time of application. Our focus is to upskill our participants and training will be provided.

COATED M2A in the Faculty of Science and Engineering is a Swansea University initiative which provides postgraduate research training in partnership with industry, providing access to world class laboratories and a wealth of academic and industry expertise. COATED M2A is committed to providing top quality research opportunities within an inclusive environment, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Swansea University and Industry partners.

Interwoven through the research study are business, technical and entrepreneurial courses, designed to support and prepare participants for a senior role in industry or academia, on completion of their studies.

The Athena SWAN charter recognises work undertaken by institutions to advance gender equality. The College of Engineering is an Athena SWAN silver award holder and is committed to addressing unequal gender representation. Applications from women and other under-represented groups are particularly welcomed. 

All applications will be anonymised prior to short listing.


Candidates must normally hold at minimum (or expect to obtain by the start date) an undergraduate degree at 2.1 level (or Non-UK equivalent as defined by Swansea University), or a combination of degree and equivalent experience to the same level. 

English Language requirements: If applicable – IELTS 6.5 overall (with at least 6.0 in each individual component) or Swansea recognised equivalent.

Studentships for October 2023 entry are open to candidates of any nationality; however, please note:

  • International students (including EU countries) can apply, but due to UKRI funding rules, no more than 30% of the Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Functional Industrial Coatings projects can be allocated to international students. Once the cap is reached, studentships will only be open to applicants eligible for tuition fees at the UK rate, as defined by UKCISA regulations.
  • Further details about eligibility, including information about the ‘international cap’ can be found at: Eligibility (identifying if you are a home or international student) – UKRI.

Funding Notes

This studentship covers a full award and includes a tax-free stipend (currently £22,000 per annum) and tuition fees, each for a period of four years, subject to meeting University progression requirements.
Also, a generous budget is available to support training, project costs, industry placements and travel to enable you to network and showcase your research at an international conference.

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