Design PhD studies

Hello everyone.

While gauging what to do in the future, I came across an interesting opportunity and would love some input on the matter. Experiences with this academic track would be great but just thoughts from seasoned and fresh designers would be highly appreciated.

Just to set up my situation, a little background. Before I got into design, I earned a Bachelors degree in Culinary Arts in Sweden. In my final year there, we did a collaboration with Parsons School of Design which lead me to a product design Undergrad in NYC and the ID Grad program back in Sweden.
While I enjoy all types of design, I do still have an extra interest in food related projects. I also love research, writing and analytical design thinking.

Recently, I have been approached by the Culinary College where I have been a student and now lecture from time to time, to consider pursuing PhD studies combining Food and Industrial Design. Both the Culinary Academy as well as Konstfack University where I earned my ID Masters, are quite excited about this.

I would want my studies to investigate strategies, behaviors and user centered experiences concerning the food industry on a global scale and not specifically gastronomy or hospitality which I have done in the past and where a lot of “food design” is being practiced today. Think less arty dinner events in Milan and more Economy Meal Service on an airplane.
Especially the the interaction between “the designed” (food, packaging, context ect) and the user would open up amazing opportunities I believe. Also of course in areas concerning sustainability.

In order to make this a success, I feel that it is important for me to find a strong partner in the field of Design where I would be able to work with a number of food related projects and where I could tie my findings into my PhD studies.
It would not be necessary for me to work solely on food related projects as I would of course also like to be a productive member of the design team, helping out where my help is needed.

However, I think finding a consultancy firm that would take me as an intern, I am thinking long term internship up to a year, would be essential in order to gather enough material and experience to give it the academic strength.
An issue I could see is confidentiality and that case studies might be tied under Non Disclosure Agreements. Maybe there could be a way around it though, by making the papers semi-public and including tutors and faculty in the NDA with the consent of clients and Consultancies.

Do you guys think that large consultancy firms, I am thinking IDEO, Frog, Smart, that kind of scale here, would be interested in supporting something like this?