Sustaining Excellence Awards (Closed)

This scheme gives long-term support to organisations we've already funded, to increase the impact of their public engagement projects and develop new ways of working. It helps organisations plan for the future and become more resilient.

This scheme is currently closed while we review it. Meanwhile, see our Public Engagement Fund.

Scheme at a glance 

This scheme is now closed

Funding amount:
Usually in the range of £90,000 to £1 million
Funding duration:
3 to 5 years

Who can apply

You can apply if you’re part of a charitable, academic or other not-for-profit organisation. Your organisation should already have received around three or more of our public engagement awards.

We welcome a wide range of organisations, including:

  • arts organisations
  • museums and other cultural attractions
  • festivals
  • youth organisations and community groups
  • research institutes
  • science and discovery centres
  • schools, universities and colleges.

You can use the award to fund a wide range of activities, which could include:

  • enhancing an existing project 
  • researching, developing and delivering a new project
  • developing new partnerships
  • developing business models
  • new approaches to fundraising and generating income
  • strategic planning and organisational change
  • advocacy and capacity building for public engagement.

We welcome partnership projects between organisations. You should have strong relationships with biomedical scientific collaborators and an ambition to broaden these relationships.

You and your proposed activities must be based in the UK or the Republic of Ireland.

If you’re from a commercial company, please contact us to discuss your eligibility.

Who can't apply

You can't apply if your proposal is:

  • a health promotion or campaign (ie any project that’s trying to change behaviour or raise awareness of an issue)
  • art for therapeutic purposes
  • academic research (apart from when it’s integral to the project’s development, eg action research).

You can only hold a Sustaining Excellence Award twice.  

Sustaining Excellence Awards are usually in the range of £90,000 to £1,000,000, and last for three to five years. This support can include costs directly associated with delivering the project, such as:

  • training and mentoring
  • consultancy fees
  • marketing and public relations
  • events (attending and hosting)
  • evaluation costs
  • contingency costs to cover any uncertainty in the project (up to five per cent of the total costs you're asking for).

The award can be used to pay for the salaries and associated costs of essential staff if no other form of funding is available. To find out more about the support we offer, please contact us. 

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

You can also apply for Research Enrichment funding to increase the impact of your work through activities in open research and diversity and inclusion.

What we don’t offer

We don't offer:

  • Overheads.
  • Funding for people who already have a full-time salary during the grant.

Once you’ve been awarded a Sustaining Excellence Award, you can't apply for any of our other public engagement schemes until the last year of your project. However, please contact us to discuss this restriction if you:

Stages of application

This scheme is currently closed for applications while we review it. 

  1. Contact us

    To discuss your ideas contact Greer Roberts (

    If we decide to take your idea forward, we'll ask you to submit a preliminary application.

  2. Submit your invited preliminary application

    View the sample preliminary application form for Sustaining Excellence Awards [PDF 206KB]

    We'll contact shortlisted candidates within six weeks of the preliminary deadline. If you're shortlisted, we'll ask you to submit a full application.

  3. Submit your invited full application

    We expect to work closely with you to develop your full application.

    View the sample full application form for Sustaining Excellence Awards [PDF 1.1MB].

  4. Decision

    The Sustaining Excellence Committee will review your application.

    We’ll give you a decision within two months of the deadline for full applications. We may invite you to come for an interview.

Disabled applicants

If you are disabled or have a chronic health condition, we can support you with the application process.


This scheme will be closed during 2019.