Developing a research proposal?
Download our Support for Societal Engagement statement (PDF), which details the relevant context about engagement at Imperial for your proposal.
What funding is available to support engagement activities?
Explore internal and external funding opportunities for staff and students who are currently undertaking engagement activities with the public, or are looking to do so.
The Societal Engagement team is keen to provide advice and guidance to applicants for funding to support their engagement activities where appropriate, and is looking to understand the current portfolio of funding held across the College to support engagement. As such, we have developed a Funding Guidance, Responsibilities and Approvals document to clarify the process. Any feedback would be welcome.
If your organisation offers an engagement funding opportunity that you think should be included here, get in touch.
If you're considering applying for engagement funding and would like to discuss your proposal, please contact us.
Engagement funding at Imperial
Societal Engagement Seed Fund
The Societal Engagement team are offering small grants to enable academic staff and students to develop and deliver new societal engagement initiatives. This may be where applicants have not undertaken public engagement activities before, or where there is potential for follow on activities to take place. We expect to fund five proposals in the region of £2,000 in one funding round but we can be flexible to accommodate larger or smaller proposals for exceptional projects. Learn more about the Societal Engagement Seed Fund and how to apply.
Imperial BRC PPI Grant Scheme
Funding is available from the Patient Experience Research Centre for public and patient involvement activities relating to BRC research. The purpose of this grant scheme is to support motivated researchers and their teams to undertake meaningful and impactful public and patient involvement that will shape their research and enhance their translation of biomedical research from bench to bedside. Find out more and apply.
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
BBSRC is focusing their public engagement activities around three strategic priorities: Industrial biotechnology and bioenergy, Agriculture and food security and Bioscience for health. Current spending on public engagement activities is approximately £1m annually.
- Public Engagement Training – This training course is offered free of charge to any researcher supported by BBSRC, working on a BBSRC grant or based at a BBSRC-funded institute.
Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
- Festival of Social Science – The ESRC Festival of Social Science is a week-long celebration of the social sciences and social science research. ESRC expect the call for applications to participate will be launched in spring 2017, with the festival being held in November. ESRC provide funding either via institutions or directly to individuals for the Festival of Social Science.
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
Under EPSRC's Royal Charter, a key objective is to "generate public awareness; communicate research outcomes; encourage public engagement and dialogue; and disseminate knowledge".
- Public Engagement: Festivals – As well as encouraging researchers to engage with the public, EPSRC works in partnership with a number of organisations to ensure that they too communicate with a wide public audience. The festivals they support include Cheltenham Science Festival, Edinburgh International Science Festival and Big Bang Fair.
- Holmes Hines Memorial Fund application information – Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) acts as trustees for the Holmes Hines Memorial Fund, a charitable bequest with the aim of providing funds to support the advancement of science. The fund is comparatively small, but makes several small awards each year. The applications can cover any area of science but applications concerning astronomy or particle physics are asked to apply. The average award granted is £500.
Medical Research Council (MRC)
- Public Engagement in Science Activities - Seed Fund – To encourage and support engagement with the public and other stakeholders, funds are available to enable MRC-funded scientists to pilot new activities and develop innovative engagements.
- Festival of Medical Research – A key aim is to share MRC-funded research with the wider public, and all MRC-funded researchers are eligible to apply for funding to take part.
- Max Perutz Science Writing Award – aims to support the career development of our current MRC PhD students and encourage and recognise outstanding written communication. The winner receives a prize of £1,500.
- Alexander Fleming Dissemination Scheme – The scheme is open to MRC and MRF grant and fellowship holders and researchers in MRC research institutes, units and centres, whose MRC or MRF funding is within one year of termination. Funding is up to £30,000.
Natural and Environment Research Council (NERC)
As the UK's leading public funder of environmental science NERC is committed to communicating its work as widely as possible, to inform and enthuse non-scientific audiences about environmental science and to demonstrate the economic and societal benefits that science brings. NERC are currently reviewing their public engagement funding with more details to follow in due course.
- Public Engagement Training – There are a number free courses which will help NERC researchers build skills in public engagement and communicating your research to different audiences. Occasionally, researchers who have attended NERC's engaging the public with your research training course may be eligible to apply for small amounts of funding to develop their own public engagement resources.
- Societal Impact Award – Recognising research that has led to demonstrable social, cultural, public policy or service, health, environmental or quality of life benefits, including demonstrating an improved societal understanding of complex environmental issues. There is £10,000 available to the category winner and £5,000 available to the runner-up.
- A £17.6m Impact Investment Fund investing in life-changing innovations that help tackle the major challenges faced by older people, children and communities in the UK.
Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC)
- Public Engagement Spark Awards – This scheme is designed to support high quality programmes of novel public engagement that inspire and involve audiences with stories of STFC science and technology. Proposed engagement programmes must focus around the remit of the STFC science programme (comprising astronomy, solar and planetary science, particle physics, particle astrophysics, cosmology, nuclear physics and accelerator science). Grants of up to £15,000 are available.
- School Grants Scheme – The scheme provides grants of up to £600 for projects or events linked to the teaching or promotion of physics and engineering in schools and colleges based in the UK, catering for students in the age range 5-19. Projects linked to astronomy, space and particle physics are particularly encouraged.
- Leadership Fellows in Public Engagement – The scheme supports the very best people in STFC’s community to undertake extended programmes of the highest-quality, innovative public engagement as a core part of their job role. It aims to create a network of highly-skilled practitioners of public engagement with STFC science who inspire and involve colleagues, students, and the public, in their activities.
- Public Engagement Nucleus Awards – Supporting high quality programmes of novel public engagement that inspire and involve target audiences with stories of STFC science and technology.
- Wonder Match - A series of partnership-building events designed to support community organisations and researchers to work together to encourage diverse audiences to engage with science. Bid for up to £1,000 to help develop your ideas and plans for working together further.
- Public Engagement Fund - This funding is for anyone with a great idea for engaging the public in conversations about health-related science and research. Awards can range from £25,000 to £3 million for proposals of up to three years.
- Engagement Fellowships - You can apply for an Engagement Fellowship if you have at least three years' experience of engaging the public with ideas around health and wellbeing.
- Sustaining Excellence Awards - This scheme gives long-term support to organisations already funded by the Wellcome Trust, to increase the impact of their public engagement projects and develop new ways of working. Applications are invited from charitable, academic or other not-for-profit organisations, on the basis that your organisation has already received around three or more of Wellcome's public engagement awards.
- Science Learning+ - Science Learning+ funds research exploring the impacts of informal STEM experiences. It is an international initiative that aims to understand the power of informal learning experiences inside and outside of school.
- The Hub Award - The Hub Award brings researchers and creative professionals together at Wellcome Collection to work as a collaborative residency for up to two academic years.
- Improving Science Education – Wellcome and the Education Endowment Foundation are seeking proposals for educational interventions that aim to improve the science attainment and/or progression of disadvantaged pupils.
The Foundation's interest in engaging the public in science complements its funding of scientific research infrastructure. They support institutions conducting high quality scientific research or in possession of important scientific collections to engage with the public.
Wolfson Foundation Grants are awarded towards new buildings, refurbishments and equipment with the aim of producing the following outcomes:
- Increased numbers of visitors and engagement of new audiences
- Improved educational experience and understanding of science
- Improved financial stability of the organisation
The Royal Society
- Royal Society – Partnership Grants of up to £3000 are available to schools to enable students, aged 5 – 18, to carry out science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) projects.
The Royal Society of Chemistry
- Royal Society of Chemistry – The Outreach Fund provides financial support to members, individuals and organisations in order to enable them to run chemistry-based public and schools engagement activities. It is split into 2 categories, with rolling deadlines throughout the year; small grants of up to £2,000 and large grants of £2,000 to £10,000.
Royal Academy of Engineering
- Royal Academy of Engineering – Ingenious is an awards scheme for projects that engage the public with engineers and engineering. It has funded over 189 projects to date, providing opportunities for over 2,000 engineers to take part in public engagement activities, to gain skills in communication and to bring engineering to the very centre of society.
British Ecological Society
- British Ecological Society – Support projects that increase public understanding of, and engagement with, ecology. The maximum award is £2,000. However, the award may be used as part-funding for larger projects involving other sponsors.
The British Society for Immunology
- British Society for Immunology – The aims of the BSI's Communicating Immunology Grants are to stimulate interest, discussion and understanding of immunology amongst a wider audience Each grant is worth up to a maximum of £1,000 and grants are awarded quarterly. There are deadlines throughout the year.
The Biochemical Society
- Biochemical Society – The Society wishes to support scientific outreach activities that communicate the excitement of molecular bioscience to young people and the community. Applications are invited for sums up to £1000 to assist with the direct costs associated with an event and expenses incurred.
The Physiological Society
- The Physiological Society – Public Engagement Grants of up to £5000 are available to both Member and non-Members of The Society to promote the discussion of physiology with public audiences.
The Institute of Physics
- Institute of Physics – Their Public Engagement Grant Scheme provides up to £2000 to individuals and organisations running physics-based events and activities in the UK and Ireland. The grant scheme has two rounds each year, take a look at the application form and guidance.
It's recommended that potential applicants get in touch with Emma Watson, Outreach Officer, to discuss their ideas and ask questions before submission. You can get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Pathological Society
- The Pathological Society – Support for activities related to the promotion public awareness and understanding of pathology. A maximum sum of £3000 per application. Deadlines are 1 March, 1 June, 1 September and 1 December.
The Royal College of Pathologists
- The Royal College of Pathologists – The Public Engagement Innovation Grant Scheme was introduced to give financial support for the delivery of a range of pathology-related events throughout the UK. Grants of up to £1,000 are available for individuals or organisations who wish to develop pathology-related public engagement activities or events.
Palaeontological Association - Engagement Grants are made to encourage educational outreach, public engagement, and related initiatives in palaeontological themes. Grants are awarded up to £5,000, however under exceptional circumstances a budget of up to £15,000 will be considered.
Microbiology Society - Education and outreach grants of up to £1,000 are available to support relevant science teaching or promotion initiatives, or to support developments likely to lead to an improvement in the teaching of any aspect of microbiology.
Royal Economics Society
Royal Economics Society - A total of £10,000 new RES funding is available to support economics departments in putting on outreach events for school students.
The Endocrinology Society
The Endocrinology Society - Public engagement grant up to £1,000 supports organisation and delivery of outreach activities, aimed and school children and/or the general public to engage them with hormones and the impact of endocrinology.
Engagement funding within grants
Pathways to Impact
- Pathways to Impact - Within Research Council funding, researchers are required to show how their work will make a difference outside academia, as well as within it. Broader economic and societal impacts are outlined in the Pathways to Impact section of research applications, where researchers are expected to describe who could benefit from the research and how they will make this happen. Funds can be requested to support Pathways to Impact, and this can include public engagement. See the Research Council overall guidance on Pathways to Impact, which also includes links to specific guidance for each of the individual councils.
Research Enrichment (Public Engagement) - Wellcome offer ring-fenced funds to support public engagement programmes alongside research grants. You can request these funds at the same time as you apply for research funding. More information about eligibility and the application process can be found on the Wellcome website, including guidance notes and common pitfalls to avoid in your application.
To support potential applicants, we run a Wellcome Research Enrichment (Public Engagement) Funding Advice Clinic.
The next session to be held in the Autumn will be announced soon.
Find out more about the funding available from Wellcome to support public engagement alongside research grants. We will cover more detail about the scheme, how to put together a proposal, and provide space for you to ask questions about your own ideas. Come along if you'd like to find out more about what is eligible, what might be suitable for this funding, and projects that have been successful.
To be able to apply for the scheme you must be an existing Wellcome grantholder or be applying to an eligible scheme for research funding. Check the details here.