To Design a Universal Household Utility Bill Reader for the Purpose of Automation

Qualification: MPhil

Department: Mathematics

Application deadline: Open until filled

Start date: As soon as possible (aligned with University start dates)


This project is a fully-funded one-year industrial MPhil in which you will undertake applied research and development on behalf of a Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) in Leicester and Leicestershire.


Dr Evgeny Mirkes (Department of Mathematics)

Dr Ayo Akinduko (Leicester Innovation Hub)

Collaborative partner

Billie UK Ltd. currently works for bills related to energy companies, but the company is now looking to extend this service to other household bills like broadband and TV, mobile phones, home insurance, and car insurance. The challenge for the company is that bills from different companies come in different formats. Furthermore, Billbutler will always be faced with reading bills that come from a new supplier whose bill format may be new. The technical challenge Billbutler faces is that of data extraction from the various utility bills.

Project description

The company wishes to develop a Universal Bill Reader that is able to extract relevant information from various electronic billing documents coming from various household utilities and present the result in a format that the App can use to provide its service. The prototype developed will be incorporated into the App. The successful completion of the MPhil will include the following stages:

  • Description of information fluxes
  • Development of reader prototype
  • Encapsulation of all developed software and software verification
  • Documentation forming
  • Formal completion of the MPhil 

During the project, you will work closely with the sponsoring Leicestershire-based SME and the University of Leicester.



  • The University of Leicester pays a monthly stipend of £1,166.67 in arrears to the student, totalling £14,000. The funding will be strictly limited to twelve months.
  • The SME pays the University’s one-year full-time MPhil fees upfront before the project starts.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements


  • You should have a Bachelor's degree with at least a UK 2:1 in Computer Science, Mathematics, or a related discipline.
  • You should have experience in algorithm development and software programming.
  • University English language requirements apply.

Required skills

  • Research and network development.
  • Software testing and data analysis skills.
  • Skills in programming languages (Java, Python, C++).
  • Ability to build strong working relationships with core stakeholders (academics, sponsoring SME).
  • Business engagement/development skills and aptitude.
  • Effective spoken English and written skills, in order to communicate effectively.
  • A self-starter who is able to work as part of a team.

Informal enquiries

Informal enquiries

Dr Evgeny Mirkes

Leicester Innovation Hub enquiries

Jenny Hollis

How to apply

How to apply

To apply please use the Apply button at the bottom of the page.

  • In the funding section of the application, please select 'Studentship' and in the dropdown menu, select 'ERDF MPhil project'.
  • In the 'Personal Statement' section, please indicate clearly why you are interested in undertaking this research project and why you are the best candidate to help deliver the project objectives.
  • In the 'Research Proposal Section', please state: 'Applying for MPhil Project Ref: LIH0? No proposal required'.

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to an interview with the academics and the sponsoring SME. Interviews are expected to be held within 14 days of the application deadline.



To qualify for fully-funded support from the SME, you and the University of Leicester academics must fulfil all ERDF and University MPhil degree eligibility criteria.

You must:

  • Be a UK or EU (European Union) national.
  • Have graduated within the last 3 years in a related discipline.
  • Adhere to project confidentiality.
  • Assign any arising IP from the project at the outset.
  • Base your MPhil degree thesis on the research outcomes of the project.
  • Work closely with the SME company to undertake the research project.
  • Deliver monthly progress reports and a comprehensive project report to the University and sponsoring SME in addition to the MPhil thesis.

Each SME project will be delivered by one full-time MPhil student over one year; the MPhil project will have a research focus and will be supervised by two University of Leicester academics (one day a week each; academics are required to complete timesheets).