Postgraduate Enterprise Summer School

The Postgraduate Enterprise Summer School (PESS) is an intensive week-long programme developed specifically for postgraduate researchers and delivered by the University Graduate School.


Participants work together in small inter-disciplinary teams to create an innovative business solution to solve a real life strategy challenge being faced by the industry partner.

Due to the Coronavirus situation we have decided to postpone the 2020 Postgraduate Enterprise Summer School until 2021.

PESS 2019 participant

“I would thoroughly recommend taking part in PESS, as it presents a unique opportunity to apply some skills that are picked up from postgraduate research, but within a business context, and to develop further transferable skills that will be relevant to any post-PhD career path.”


What is the Postgraduate Enterprise Summer School?

PESS gives postgraduate researchers the opportunity to apply their knowledge and expertise to a real life challenge, develop new skills, collaborate with fellow researchers from a variety of disciplines and compete to create the best innovative solution.

Alongside a comprehensive programme of interactive professional skills training sessions, participants meet their client (the industry partner), undertake research and develop proposals to address the organisation’s requirements. On the final day each team presents their findings to a panel which includes the organisation’s representative/s.

The course provides top quality training alongside a fantastic opportunity to work on real strategic issues. No previous experience is required and participants from all subject areas are welcome.

2019 participant quote

"This was a thoroughly challenging but enjoyable week that allowed me to gain new skill sets, while solidifying others, and importantly teaching me how to showcase these skills in future career applications. It therefore covered a lot of the qualities within Vitae’s Researcher Development Framework and was all in all a very valuable experience".

Is the PESS for me?

  • Are you a postgraduate researcher looking to enhance your personal and professional development?
  • Do you want to gain enterprise skills which can give you the edge in any career, whether it's private enterprise, academia or third sector?
  • Do you want the opportunity to gain transferable skills to take your research and future career forward?
  • Do you want to give 'consultancy' a try in a safe and controlled environment?

PESS course dates and how to register 

PESS 2020 was scheduled to take place Monday 29th June - Friday 3rd July.  Unfortunately, due to the Coronavirus situation, PESS 2020 has been postponed.  We plan to run PESS in 2021 with enough spaces for all PGRs who registered for 2020 to attend, as well as a new intake.

The programme is open to doctoral researchers from the University of Birmingham and there are a limited number of places available to doctoral researchers from other universities.

No previous experience is necessary and participants from all subject areas are welcome. All training materials, lunches and refreshments will be provided. Places are limited and will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

You will need to ensure you are able to attend the full course as you will be working in teams throughout the week and your full support to your other team members will be required.

PESS training programme

Sessions (example timetable)

Monday - Introduction; team work training; challenge revealed by client; value proposition training; business modelling training

Tuesday - Creative problem solving training; fact-finding mission/site visit

Wednesday - Finance training; Career impact workshop

Thursday - Presentation and pitching skills training

Friday - Pitching competition followed by feedback, awards and closing remarks

Time commitment

  • The week’s training is intensive and you will be required to attend approx. 9am - 5pm every day. We strongly advise that you avoid making other commitments during this week (early mornings or evenings) so that you are able to gain the most from the programme.
  • Please bear in mind that your team may choose to work outside of the timetabled hours. This however, is at the discretion of individuals within a team.
  • The majority of the training will take place on the Edgbaston Campus; however there may also be some training and events which take place locally off-site. Transportation to and from these external events will be provided by the University.
  • The training programme outlined above is intended to give an overview of the week and is subject to amendment.

PESS 2019

Due to the success of PESS 2018 and the subsequent increase in interest, there were two PESS programmes in 2019, one in June and one in July. The June PESS tackled Health Inequality and Genetic Disparity with industry partner Future Genetics, and the July PESS proposed deploying Connected Autonomous Vehicles to various locations for client Conigital.

PESS July 2019 CAV site visitPESS June 2019 lab site visit

Contact the postgraduate team

If you have any questions about the Postgraduate Enterprise Summer School please contact Leliana Jardim.


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