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PhD Stipends, Economic Complexity and Emerging Ecosystems of AI Technologies

At the Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Business and Management, a PhD scholarship in Economic Complexity and Emerging Ecosystems of AI Technologies is open for appointment on 1 September 2020 or as soon as possible.

Job description

The capability to fast and efficiently select and acquire relevant knowledge, and transfer insights and  applications  into  new  fields  of  economic  activity  is  critical  in  times  of  rapid  technological change,  where  new  technological  opportunities  spring  up  frequently.  In  the  advent  of  potential general-purpose-technologies (GPT), these capabilities provide opportunities for firms to disrupt established  industries,  and  for  countries  to  trigger  changes  in  industrial  and  technological leadership.

Machine learning and artificial intelligence (ML&AI) are generally perceived as a likely candidate for  a  GTP  that  will  revolutionize  the  economy.  Consequently,  many  developed  and  emerging economies have entered the race for leadership in the field of AI, leading to numerous national and supranational strategic initiatives to boost the development and application of AI technologies.

Economic complexity has emerged as a powerful paradigm to understand key issues in economics, geography,  and  innovation  studies,  and  shed  new  light  on  differences  in  sophistication  of technologies, and the heterogeneous distribution of knowledge in space. Likewise, a host of policy institutions such as the World Bank, World Economic Forum, European Commission, and OECD have  embedded  both  the  methodology  and  conceptual  framework  of  complexity  into  their  core toolbox,  among  others  to  inform  smart-specialization  policies.  Centered  around  the  knowledge utilized for economic activity, these concepts are able to provide insights regarding possible new applications of technologies in related fields, but also advice on how to acquire knowledge related to them.

This  PhD  project  is  expected  to  contribute  to  the  development  of  indicators  of  knowledge  and technology complexity  and relatedness suitable for the analysis of emerging digital technologies such as AI. Drawing from a variety of traditional (e.g., patents, academic publications, industrial input/output) but also novel (e.g,. github, webscraping, social media) datasources, the PhD student will (supported, trained, and guided by the research staff) apply and develop network and complex system theory combined with data science methods and techniques to map innovation ecosystems and technology dynamics, with the goal to develop indicators thereof to guide science, technology, and innovation policy. While investigating the evolution of the global AI technology and policy landscape,  the  PhD  project  will  have  a  special  emphasis  on  the  Chinese  AI  ecosystem,  which globally stands out by its pace of development and its dynamism.

The PhD-student will be enrolled at the Doctoral School of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Aalborg University and will be anchored in the IKE-Group, Department of Business and Management. The applicant is expected to contribute to the research environment and teaching at Aalborg University in  Denmark.  The  position  is  also  attached  to  the  Sino-Danish  Centre  (SDC)  in  Beijing.  It  is  an integral  part  of  the  PhD  position  to  conduct  studies  in  China,  take  part  in  the  SDC  network, research, and education activities. The candidate is required to stay in China for 12 months with the  possibility  to  divide  the  months  into  shorter  stays  over  a  period  of  three  years.  During  this visiting research fellow time, the PhD student will work together with leading Chinese scholars in the  field  of  innovation  ecosystems  research,  technology  mapping  and  forecasting,  and  have  the opportunity to potentially access unique data sources and carry out field studies.

Chinese citizens including citizens from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao are not eligible for the position.

Qualification requirements
The PhD scholarship has a duration of three years. Applicants to the PhD scholarship must hold a degree equivalent to a Danish Master’s degree. Applicants must have achieved the grade 10 or above in the Danish grading system (or the equivalent in a different grading system) for their Master’s Thesis/final exam. The PhD candidate may be exempted from the grade requirement, if he/she is able to provide other forms of documentation of his/her qualifications Applicants enrolled at a Danish Master programme who expect to graduate before the date of appointment must forward statement from thesis supervisor, verified transcripts, a copy of thesis contract and documentation for the date of their final exam.

Application requirements 
- letter of motivation
- project proposal (approx. 5 pages) containing the research project title, an outline of the course of study and a description of the overall problem areas
- information on which language the PhD thesis is expected to be written in
- curriculum vitae
- Application form
- diplomas confirming academic degrees (Master degree), including academic transcripts
- Applicants WHO are planning to complete a doctoral thesis in English and who do not have English as a first language or WHO have not completed an English language-based Master's programme (or an equivalent educational achievement in English) shall provide documentation that they have passed one of the following official tests with the respective minimum score: IELTS (band score):7 TOEFL (paper-based): 600, TOEFL (internet-based): 100.
- Co-author statement. If publications that have been written in cooperation with others are submitted, a declaration from each of the authors must be enclosed. The declaration must state the extent of the applicant’s contribution to the total work and be signed by the authors.
- Application for credit transfer if relevant.

The website for Doctoral school of Social Sciences: https://www.phd.samf.aau.dk/

The complete application including attachments shall be sent electronically by selecting the "apply online" function on AAU’s job-portal https://www.stillinger.aau.dk/ (not other online job portals that may have reposted the position).

Please note that zipped files are not supported by the recruitment system, please upload only Word or PDF files.

The assessment of the applicants will be undertaken by an expert assessment committee.
Shortlisting will be applied. This means that subsequent to the deadline for applications, the head of department supported by the chair of the assessment committee will select candidates for assessment. All applicants will be informed whether they will be assessed or not. The selected applicants will be informed of the composition of the assessment committee, and each applicant will have the opportunity to comment on the part of the assessment that applies to the applicant in question. When the employment process has been terminated, a final rejection will be sent to the applicants who are not considered.

The Faculty draws your attention to the fact that the applicant's project description may be tested for plagiarism in the IT system iThenticate.
You may obtain further information regarding the academic contents of the position from Assosiate Professor Daniel Hain, dsh@business.aau.dk

If you have questions regarding the procedure of applying for the position, please contact Mette Bjerring, mb@adm.aau.dk

We look for a talented and ambitious candidate having the following qualifications:
- M.Sc. degree in a relevant field (economics, geography, sociology, but also computer science or engineering with a strong interest in social science topics etc.)
- Interest and knowledge in one or multiple of the following topics: Economic complexity and system theory, economics of innovation and technological change, economic geography, the role of AI in transforming society & economy
- Experience in the use of quantitative research methods
- Ability to work independently and collaborate cross-culturally, which requires solid communication skills
- Excellent English writing and speaking skills to accommodate scientific work and dissemination purposes.

Further qualifications are desirable:
- Experience with common data science and statistical programming languages such as R and/or Python.
- First experience in quantitative analytics, eg. statistical modeling, simulation, machine learning, network analysis, natural language processing.
- Promising academic records, well trained skills on applying scientific research methods.

The completion of the scholarship will be in accordance with the Ministerial Order on the PhD Programme at the Universities No 1039 of 27 August 2013 (the PhD Order), and it is a prerequisite for allocation of a scholarship that enrolment as a PhD student at the Doctoral School of Social Sciences takes place. According to the PhD Order, the PhD study comprises among other requirements: Participation in active research environments, including stays at other, mainly foreign, research institutions, private research enterprises etc.

Please find information on admission requirements for PhD positions on the website of the Doctoral School.


Appointment and salary in accordance with the Ministerial Order on the Appointment of Academic Staff at Universities No 242 of 13 March 2012 and The Ministry of Higher Education and Science Circular concerning the job structure for academic staff at universities of 19 August 2015. Salary will be in accordance with the agreements in force.

Vacancy number



Fri Jul 31 00:00:00 CEST 2020

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