Wellcome Early-Career Awards

This scheme provides funding for early-career researchers from any discipline who are ready to develop their research identity. Through innovative projects, they will deliver shifts in understanding related to human life, health and wellbeing. By the end of the award, they will be ready to lead their own independent research programme.

Scheme at a glance 

Lead applicant career stage:
Administering organisation location:
Three times a year - Upcoming deadline in October 2024
Funding amount:

Your salary and up to £400,000 for research expenses. If eligible, you may also request additional funding for overseas allowances, overheads and adjustment support.

Funding duration:

Usually 5 years, but may be less for some disciplines, and may only be longer if held on a part-time basis.

Not accepted

Deadline for new applications

Calculating next key date…
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Who can apply 

You can apply to this scheme if you are an early-career researcher and you are ready to design, plan and deliver your own innovative research project that aims to:

  • advance understanding in your field


  • develop methodologies, conceptual frameworks, tools or techniques that could benefit health-related research.

During the award, we expect you to:

  • expand your technical skills and/or your experience of different research methodologies or frameworks
  • build a collaborative network with other researchers in your field
  • develop your people management skills
  • advance your understanding of how to complete research responsibly and promote a positive and inclusive culture.

By the end of the award, you should have the research maturity to develop, manage and lead your own creative, independent research programme.

If you decide not to pursue a career in research, you’ll have transferable skills that you can use in roles related to research or outside of research, for example in industry or teaching.

Other people you must involve in the application and award

Other people you can involve in the application and award

Other Wellcome awards

During an Early-Career Award, you can be a coapplicant on one other Wellcome award.

Read about the different applicant roles at Wellcome and how many awards you can apply for or hold at one time.


If you are unsuccessful with an application to this scheme, you can submit one more application for the same project. Significant changes are needed for the second application. You do not need to contact us first.

Who can't apply 

You are not eligible to apply if:

  • You have an existing tenured (salaried) post for the duration of the award (unless based in a low- or middle-income country). You can only relinquish an existing tenured (salaried) post to take up an Early-Career Award if your current post is not research-based.
  • You have made an application to this scheme and you are waiting for a decision.
  • You hold, have held, or have accepted an offer for an equivalent award at this career stage. An equivalent award does not include short-term funding.

You cannot apply if you intend to carry out activities that involve the transfer of grant funds into mainland China.

Is your research right for this scheme? 

You must check whether Wellcome Discovery Research can fund your type of research project before you apply.

Check what we fund in Discovery Research

Your research must:

Your research can:

  • be in any discipline - including science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), experimental medicine, humanities and social science, clinical/allied health sciences, and public health.

Your research must not:

  • fall outside of what we support in Discovery Research. Check what we don't fund.
  • start earlier than seven months after the application deadline.

Is your organisation right for this scheme? 

The administering organisation is the organisation responsible for submitting your final application to Wellcome and managing the finances of the grant if it is awarded.

Your grant must be administered by an eligible organisation that can sign up to our grant conditions.

Where your administering organisation is based

The administering organisation must be in one of the following:

It can be a:

  • higher education institution
  • research institute
  • non-academic healthcare organisation
  • not-for-profit organisation.

What your administering organisation must do

We expect organisations based in the UK to meet the responsibilities required by the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers for institutions, managers and researchers.

Any organisation with Wellcome funding that is based outside the UK is expected, at a minimum, to follow the principles of the Concordat.

Read the Concordat

We also expect your administering organisation to:

  • Give you, and any staff employed on the grant, 10 days a year (pro rata if part-time) to undertake training and continuing professional development (CPD) in line with the Concordat. This should include the responsible conduct of research, research leadership, people management, diversity and inclusion, and the promotion of a healthy research culture.
  • Provide a system of onboarding, embedding and planning for you when you join the organisation and/or start the award.
  • Provide you with the status and benefits of other academic staff of similar seniority.

If your administering organisation is a core-funded research organisation, an Early-Career Award should not replace or lead to a reduction in existing or planned core support.

Your research environment

You should choose a research environment that provides you with the appropriate training, resources and experience to deliver your project and develop your research skills and identity. We encourage you to move away from your current research environment. This may mean moving from your group or department, but it is not essential to move organisations.

How applications are assessed 

We will review your research proposal, skills and experience, and research environment. The assessment weightings are used at interview stage.

Your research proposal (50%)

To be competitive, your research proposal will be:

  • Bold. It aims to deliver a significant shift in understanding and/or it provides a significant advance over existing methodologies, conceptual frameworks, tools or techniques. It has the potential to stimulate new and innovative research.
  • Creative. Your proposed approach is novel – it develops and tests new concepts, methods or technologies, or combines existing ideas and approaches in a new way.
  • High quality. It is well-designed, clear, supported by evidence and the proposed outcomes/outputs are feasible.

Your skills and experience (25%)

We will review:

  • Your previous research outputs and contributions to the research community.
  • Your research skills and experience of different methodologies, and how you plan to develop these during the award.
  • How you will develop your management skills and capabilities for leading a research programme.

Your research environment (25%)

We will review:

  • How your research environment(s) will support you to deliver your research programme and develop as a researcher.
  • How your administering organisation will help you develop your project and management skills.
  • How you will contribute to a positive and inclusive research culture.

Research costs we'll cover 

A Wellcome Early-Career Award provides a salary for the grantholder and up to £400,000 for research expenses. 

On top of the £400,000 research expenses limit, you may also be able to ask for:

  • overheads
  • overseas allowances
  • adjustment support, including assistive technology (for example, screen readers or mobility aids) and support staff. Review the ‘staff’ section for more information.

If you are eligible for these costs, we will not count them against the £400,000 limit for research expenses. Contact us if you have any questions.

If after two or more years from your Early-Career Award activation date your organisation awards you a permanent, open ended or long-term rolling contract that includes your salary, you will be able to keep the salary element of the award to use towards your remaining research costs.  

The award usually lasts for 5 years, but may be less for some disciplines, such as humanities and social science.

The award may be held on a part-time basis. We will extend the duration of the award to reflect this.

You should ask for a level and duration of funding that’s justifiable for your proposed research.

You can only hold one of these awards. We do not offer renewals.

The award includes:

Global Talent visa

If you're awarded this grant, you are guaranteed an endorsement of a Global Talent visa application.

If your administering organisation is in the UK and you have team members who will spend at least 50% of their working time contributing to the award, they may be eligible to apply for a Global Talent visa through the endorsed funder route.

What we don't offer

See 'Other costs' for the costs we will and will not provide.

How to apply 

Where to apply

Apply for this scheme on the Wellcome Funding platform. You will need to log in or create an account. You can save your application and return to it at any time.

Get some tips to help you write your grant application.

Information you need to provide

As well as answering the application questions, you will need to provide:

  • a letter of support from your current supervisor
  • a letter of support from the person overseeing your clinical training if you are intending to complete clinical training during the award
  • a letter of support from the director of finance at your administering organisation if you are requesting overheads.

How long it takes to apply

You must leave enough time for:

  • you to complete the application
  • your organisation to review and submit the application.

Getting support with your application

We offer disability-related support for applicants. Read the disability-related support guidance if you:

  • are disabled or have a long-term health condition and you need help applying for funding
  • need to defer your application
  • need help completing your project, for example costs for assistive technology.

Application process

  1. Before you apply

    Make sure you read everything on this page. You do not need to contact us before you write and submit your application.

  2. Submit your application to your administering organisation for approval

    Complete your application form on Wellcome Funding.

    Submit it to the 'authorised approver' at your administering organisation for approval. Make sure you leave enough time for the approver to review and submit your application before the deadline. The approver may ask you to make changes to your application.

  3. Administering organisation approves and submits it to Wellcome

    Your application must be submitted by 17:00 (GMT/BST) on the deadline day. Check with your research office if the industrial action announced at UK universities will affect their approval of your application. We are unable to offer deadline extensions in relation to this action, so you should agree when you’ll need to submit your application for them to approve it by the deadline. 

    Watch a recording of a webinar demonstrating the Wellcome Funding platform from Thursday 4 May 2023.

  4. Shortlisting

    We will check your eligibility for the scheme and that your application demonstrates how you will meet the aims of the scheme. If your application is ineligible or does not demonstrate how you will meet the aims of the scheme, we will withdraw your application and contact you to explain why.

    One of the following Early-Career Advisory Groups will review your application, depending on your area of research:

    If shortlisted, we will invite you for interview.

  5. Interviews

    The Early-Career Interview Committee will interview shortlisted candidates at the Wellcome offices in London. Accessibility requirements will be accommodated. Those who cannot attend in person can participate remotely.

    We will provide information on the structure of the interview, layout of the room, and interview committee membership.

    You will be asked to give a presentation at the start of your interview. Shortly before the day of the interview, you will need to provide us with your presentation slides.

    The focus of the interview will be on questions and answers. The committee will assess across a set of criteria rather than one specific aspect of the proposal.

  6. Funding decision

    Final funding decisions will be made by the Discovery Research Decision Board.

    You will receive an email notification of the funding decision soon after the decision has been made. We will write to you after this with the reasons for the decision.

We may use positive action on this scheme. Read our guidance for more information.

Key dates 

You must submit your application by 17:00 (GMT/BST) on the deadline day. We don’t accept late applications.

October 2024 round

Opening soon

  1. 22 May 2024

    Applications open

  2. 1 October 2024, 17:00 BST

    Application deadline

  3. December 2024


  4. 11-13 March 2025


More information about this scheme 

Watch our webinar for early-career researchers (1-hour) to hear about our goals for Discovery Research at Wellcome.

Contact us