UNU-MERIT invites applications for new PhD fellows to join the PhD programme starting in September 2022. Applications are invited from highly-motivated and talented fellows, especially from the Global South, who want to join a thriving and collaborative community of scholars focusing on pressing global challenges, including climate action, the digital transformation, poverty and inequality, and particularly their impact on human and economic sustainable development.


The United Nations University – Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (UNU-MERIT) is a research and training institute of United Nations University based in Maastricht in the south of the Netherlands. The institute, which collaborates closely with Maastricht University, carries out research and training on a range of social, political and economic factors that drive sustainable socio-economic development in a global perspective.  Overall the institute functions as a unique research centre and graduate school for over 100 PhD fellows and 140 Master’s students. It is also a UN think tank addressing a broad range of policy questions on science, innovation and democratic governance.

The UNU-MERIT PhD Programme

Through our disciplinary and multidisciplinary research, our ambition is to contribute to the academic debate and to societal policy and innovation solutions at all stages of the policy process: from the setting of a policy agenda to the delivery and evaluation of public policy. In meeting these twin aims, we ensure that our research maintains the highest standards of academic and scientific excellence and rigour, while remaining policy relevant.

PhD fellows are expected to contribute to the UNU-MERIT agenda on Comprehensive Innovation for Sustainable Development (CI4SD) by developing a  dissertation topic within the core disciplines of UNU-MERIT:

  1. The economics of innovation — Topics of interest include: the process of technological change and innovation; the economics of knowledge and new technologies; structural change and economic development; economic complexity and innovation.
  2. Public policy and governance of innovation — Topics of interest include: governance and institutions; migration and development; population, development and labour economics; social protection; poverty and inequality;
  3. Societal transformations — Topics of interest include:  innovation and entrepreneurship for sustainable transitions; sustainable innovation and transformation; system transitions; innovation for the ‘Base of the Pyramid’.