New funding scheme for public engagement with research

Rachel Hillman, who has led our funding review, explains how the new funding model will work.

Dr Sophie Dauvois and some of the team at Okido Studio.
Dr Sophie Dauvois (ladder) and some of the team at Okido Studio. Okido is an art and science magazine for children, funded by Wellcome.
Credit: Benjamin McMahon

In April, we announced we were pausing our public engagement funding to thoroughly review and explore the best ways for us to support public engagement activities in future. Now, we’re pleased – and more than a little excited – to share the outcome of this work.

We’ve created a new funding structure for public engagement. It’s designed to:

  • be easier to navigate
  • have fewer barriers to access
  • be flexible enough to support ideas from the broadest range of people and organisations
  • enable us to work more effectively with our communities to seed ideas and drive innovation.

What’s changing

The majority of our funding has been streamlined to one, simple new scheme, the Public Engagement Fund.

  • You no longer need to self-select the appropriate scheme before you apply 

We know that public engagement can involve many different forms, sectors and people, so our new, simplified scheme is open to anyone with a great idea to engage the public.

As well as supporting projects that directly engage the public, our new fund can support people, places and activities to progress engagement practice and build longer term capacity for meaningful public engagement.

  • We no longer have application deadlines 

We’ve created a rolling decision-making process so that you can apply when you’re ready to and we can allocate funding more rapidly and more regularly.

Our new scheme is open to projects from £5,000 to £3 million. Just apply for what you need and we will take it from there.

  • We've simplified the application form

We know that filling in a standard application takes lots of time and can be a barrier for some, so we’ve shifted its emphasis to strength of idea and concept. We’ll ask you for more detailed information if it’s needed.

We are also piloting ways of supporting individuals and small organisations who haven’t worked with us before to help you shape your idea before submitting an application.

What’s not changing

In addition to our new Public Engagement Fund, targeted schemes will still be available to help people and organisations build capacity, develop leaders in public engagement and build a resilient public engagement sector. These are:

We will also continue to offer provision for public engagement funding within our research grants.

We’re not reducing the funding available for public engagement activities, or the types of projects or communities that we fund. We’re incredibly proud of the public engagement work we’ve already funded and we’re committed to continuing and building on this support.

What this means if you want to apply for funding

We’ll be accepting applications for public engagement funding from early January 2017.

Funding decisions will be made on a rolling basis, at a number of points throughout the year. Just apply when you’re ready. We will usually give you a decision within 10 to 12 weeks.

You can read general information about the new scheme, but we’re still working hard to get our new systems ready over Christmas. All the information we can give you at the moment is available here on our website.

There will be more details about how to apply when the scheme opens in January.

What we’re trying to achieve

We want to develop and support the best ways of bringing science and health research closer to the societies and cultures in which it operates.

We want our work to reach as wide a range of people as possible, especially people we don’t yet talk to. So we’re committed to:

  • supporting proposals from people and organisations that we’re not yet involved with
  • prioritising projects for audiences who currently have few opportunities to engage with research.

We hope that our new funding framework will allow us to support ever-evolving forms of public engagement in a more flexible way, to drive innovative and diverse ideas that will help everyone to play a role in improving health.

More information