Press release

£30 million fund to bring new life to science centres

The Wellcome Trust and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) have partnered to deliver a £30m fund to breathe new life into science centres across the UK.

The 'Inspiring Science Capital Fund' was announced in a speech by Jo Johnson, the Minister for Universities and Science, at the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) annual lecture.

The UK benefits from a wide range of science centres, which offer schools and families hands-on experience of engineering, science and innovation by bringing ideas, research and inventions to life. They provide science education and outreach programmes for young people opening their eyes to a range of careers and engaging their local communities. Collectively they attract over 20 million visitors a year.

The £30 million Inspiring Science Capital Fund – £20 million from Government and £10 million from Wellcome Trust – will support UK science centres and attractions to engage even more people with science.

Centres will be able to bid for funds to refresh and refurbish exhibitions and infrastructure to inspire people from all backgrounds to interact with science and consider the possibilities it holds for their own future.

The fund is based on a proposal made by the Association of Science and Discovery Centres and will enable recipients to grow their STEM outreach activities through the creation of new exhibitions, as well as science laboratory and education spaces to better accommodate schools and visiting groups. Applicants will need to demonstrate how the funding would help them to engage underserved and underrepresented audiences as well as contribute to the future sustainability of their organisation.

Simon Chaplin, Director of Culture and Society at the Wellcome Trust, said: "Science and Discovery Centres play a vital role promoting STEM engagement and learning for young people. We're delighted to be able to support the next phase in their growth and to help them build on their success in making science part our cultural landscape."

In his speech, the Minister set out the importance of inspiring the next generation of scientists, he said: "Science and Discovery Centres around the country play an important role, offering schools and families a hands-on experience that brings science to life. So I'm pleased to announce that we are partnering with the Wellcome Trust to set up a £30 million Inspiring Science Capital Fund to support these centres for the rest of this Parliament. This will be a competitive fund that centres can bid into ensuring these hands-on experiences are accessible to young people to the end of the decade."

The fund will be open to existing Science Centres with a proven record of innovative programming and an established revenue model, who cannot access capital investment from other public sources. It will open for applications later this year and will be managed by the Wellcome Trust in partnership with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.