Business and universities around the European Union and several other countries including Israel, Switzerland, Norway and Serbia will now be collaborating closely on doctoral training for scholars under a proposed program by the European Commission, which is modelled after an existing Danish program in operation since 1971.

Under the program, postgraduates enrolled in and qualified to complete a PhD program under a university can be employed with a partnering private enterprise during the project period, and will be dividing their time between the university and the enterprise. Thus the program wants private industry to be involved in a greater capacity in doctoral-level training. Additionally, it will facilitate students enrolled in a doctoral program in a university to work with an employer in another country.

The industrial PhD, as it is called, owes its origins to one started in Denmark 40 years back primarily with a view to training researchers to gain insight into the business related aspects of research and development. It also aims to build personal networks of knowledge between companies and Danish or foreign universities / research institutions.

According to a report in The International Herald Tribune, the European Parliament voted to take the program Europe-wide last May, following a proposal by Morten Lokkegaard, a Danish member of Parliament. The program is expected to incorporate its first batch of 100 scholars in September 2012 and has approximately 50 partnering enterprises.

The 20 million-euro ($28-million) program will be funded under a special educational and funding initiative of the European Commission titled Marie Curie Action, which aims to make research careers more attractive for young people.