Grants awarded: Sustaining Excellence Awards

Project summaries of Wellcome grants awarded under the scheme ‘Sustaining Excellence Awards’.


Alice Sharp

Invisible Dust

£390, 000 (four years)

We want to increase the involvement of biomedical collaborators to enable them to reflect and shape our programmes and improve our audience’s connection with health research. This will result in a programme of artists’ projects with biomedical scientists that will be seen by large audiences and will have a high impact. We also want to increase our international work by exploring climate change and health while being mindful of our carbon footprint.

We will provide evidence of behavioural change in audiences who engage with our programme. We will also diversify our audiences and work in areas with socio-economic deprivation. We intend to create two new posts: head of development and science producer. This will enable us to consolidate, build new science partnerships, achieve a sustainable business model and secure our long-term future.

Brett Hendrie

World Congress of Science and Factual Producers

£600,000 (four years)

We will invest in key areas that we have not had the financial resources to pursue in the past. We will expand the capacity of our editorial, fundraising and outreach teams and turn these posts into year-round full-time engagements. We will also create salaried jobs and allocate resources that will allow us to develop connections with target communities.

We will also launch a strategic planning process, review our governance and editorial models and invest in membership diversification and marketing. These changes will result in the advancement of the event’s programme to represent and appeal to a more diverse group of stakeholders, allowing the WCSFP to have a greater impact on global audiences.

Changes to fundraising will help develop a business model that allows us to maintain programme investments beyond the grant cycle and build a consistent revenue model regardless of event location.

Jon Fitzmaurice

British Science Association

£621,000 (three years)

Historically, educational and institutional structures have limited diversity among people who engage with science. We have changed our governance structures but we still operate in systems created for those who are already engaged in science. We want to challenge organisational and social inequalities to make science more representative, equitable and relevant.

We will develop our audience model and reform our programmes, putting audiences at the heart of decision-making. We will refresh our programmes to reach ‘inactive’ audiences and encourage them to be more actively engaged in science. We also want to improve our diversity and ensure that our workforce has the skills needed to engage diverse groups. We also want to influence the sector by supporting data collection and innovative approaches to inclusive science engagement. This will enable us to co-develop a ‘creative case for diversity’ which can be used across the sector.


Dean Paton

Big Heritage

£681,856 (three years)

Big Heritage will expand on its existing work by exploring the theme of medicine in the past and into the future using local history and bioarchaeology. Sick to Death will be a new visitor attraction in Chester offering an immersive experience aimed at family audiences. There will also be two smaller pop-up versions. The aim is for the attraction to be financially self-sustaining with a sufficient income to reinvest in new content by 2020/2021.

Katherine McGrath


£532,425 (three and a half years)

Fuel has a strong record in creating opportunities for collaborations between contemporary performance artists and researchers. It wants to develop its role as an organisation that can inspire sector change in line with Wellcome’s shared ambition to support a wider range of artists to engage with research in a meaningful way.

It will develop new models for collaborations between artists and researchers and new partnerships with higher education institutes so that by the end of the award it will have diversified its income sources, including new resources such as the Enterprise Investor Scheme and Theatre Tax Relief.

Dr Leah Holmes


£640,445 (five years)

Nowgen’s ambition is to build on its strong reputation and track record to develop its organisation as an innovative centre for excellence in engagement with health research, working with underserved audiences. It will do this by developing new programmes of patient involvement and public engagement with a range of creative partners and communities in Manchester. This will include a programme of research work with patients, youth training programmes and a number of long-term, community-based, demand-led projects.  

The aim is to improve the evidence base for methods of engagement with hard-to-reach audiences which can inform bids and funding opportunities created by the devolution of healthcare budgets in Manchester and the development of a range of new consultancy services.

Sarah Norcross

Progress Education Trust

£350,000 (three years) 

Progress Education Trust leads national debates on fertility and genomic medicine. It has been established as a charity since 1992 and will use the award to transform its digital programme. It will redevelop its ‘BioNews’ and find ways for audiences to engage with its archive. The programme will also enable greater commercialisation and build engagement with an expanded team. 


David Harradine

Fevered Sleep

£499,344 (four years)

Fevered Sleep will revive two existing works and create four new pieces that pioneer innovative forms of public engagement and encourage people to re-examine their relationships with each other and the world.  

The team will be expanded to include a researcher and a public engagement manager, with the aim of creating more in-depth engagement with science and producing additional research outputs alongside every project. 

Shane McCracken

Gallomanor Communications Ltd

£550,000 (five years)

I’m a Scientist (IAS) is a successful online science engagement programme for schools that runs across the UK and Ireland. This award will help Gallomanor meet significant demand for IAS, with the numbers of engaged students growing from 21,000 in 2015 to over 35,000 in 2020. 

Over the award’s five years, Gallomanor plan to run 411 zones connecting 165,000 students with 2,000 scientists and engineers. The organisation is focusing on developing more diverse funding streams so it can continue to run IAS in the longterm.

Jennifer Wong

Guerilla Science

£500,000 (three years)  

Guerilla Science push the boundaries of public engagement with science by creating events that appeal to broad audiences.  

This award will help the organisation to deliver an annual programme of events at the Secret Garden Party, develop five new projects with audiences who have little or no access to science, and produce a series of three experimental events that combine live and digital experiences. By the end of the award, Guerilla Science aims to have increased staffing, and be able to cover 75% of its operating costs from commercial sources and earned income. 

Freddie Yauner

£389,147 (four years)

MS Reporters is a user-led video production format that combines public engagement and collective advocacy to empower communities to create expert video libraries. wants to embed the MS Reporters format into core service delivery, and scale and widen its focus to work with other partners in neuroscience. plans to diversify its income through a mix of grants, corporate sponsorship and community fundraising. By the end of the scheme, the organisation wants to be able to maintain a core staff team, be working with more MS-ers, have wider impact, and have a larger and more empowered volunteer base. 


Alice Sharp

Invisible Dust

£459,569 (three years)

Invisible Dust is an award-winning organisation that brings together leading artists and scientists to produce unique and exciting works of contemporary art which present new scientific ideas and explore the environment, health and climate change. This award will transform the organisation from a small project-based company to a sustainable company with an increased profile, enhanced understanding of its audiences and more diverse income streams. 

Over the course of the award, Invisible Dust will deliver a more ambitious programme of projects, reaching audiences of 75,000. Artists will include: Adam Chodzko, Kasia Molga, Mariele Neudecker and China Miéville.

Suzy Wilson

Clod Ensemble

£997,887 (five years)

Over the next five years, Clod Ensemble will collaborate with medics, scientists, artists and cultural thinkers to present an outstanding programme of performances, talks and workshops in six towns and cities across the UK.  

The performances will be part of larger ‘Performing Medicine Seasons’ which will encourage deep exploration of critical debates within biomedical science. This will be achieved through talks and workshops, and by inviting different institutions and individuals to come together to share best practice. Clod Ensemble will also develop its professional training ‘Reboot’ programme to engage a new generation of artists in interdisciplinary practice.

This award will reposition the company as an organisation with profile and repertoire, and help to provide additional capacity in strategic communications and fundraising. Clod Ensemble aim to develop multiple income streams, and fundraising, sales and commercial activities to increase earned income.