Societal Engagement Funding Opportunities
A range of internal and external funding opportunities to support our staff and students in their societal engagement activities.
Developing a research proposal?
Download our Support for Societal Engagement statement (PDF), which details the relevant context about engagement at Imperial for your proposal.
Find out about internal and external funding opportunities for staff and/or students who currently undertake engagement activities with the public, or are seeking to do so.
If you're considering submitting a funding application, you can email us at email@example.com for advice and support.
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 2017 but we can be flexible to accommodate larger or smaller proposals for exceptional projects.
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.
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 - The second annual MRC Festival of Medical Research will be held between 17th and 25th June 2017. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC)
- Public Engagement Small Awards Scheme - The Public Engagement Small Awards Scheme provides funds for small, local or 'pilot' projects promoting STFC science and technology. Anyone can apply, including grant-funded research groups, STFC research facility users, schools, museums, etc. Awards range from £500 to £10,000 and the expenditure can go towards materials, salaries and travel & subsistence. Applications for this scheme will re-open in Autumn 2017.
- Public Engagement Large Awards Scheme - The Large Awards Scheme provides funds for projects which are expected to have a significant regional or national impact. STFC offer awards from £10,000 up to £100,000. Almost anyone can apply but project teams must have strong links with STFC's scientific research community. They also encourage partnerships that may positively impact on the success of the project e.g. universities with science centres. Applications for this scheme will re-open in Autumn 2017.
- 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, with the call for proposals closing at 16.00 on 27th April 2017.
- Public Engagement Fellowships – The aim of the scheme is to contribute to the STFC's Public Engagement Programme by investing in good communicators with research credibility. The fellowships are aimed at those with significant research experience who have demonstrated a track record in outreach or communications work. Applications close on 30th March 2017.
- 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.
- 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.
The Wellcome Trust currently have six different public engagement funding schemes (below):
- 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 £5,000 to £3 million for proposals of up to five years.
- Broadcast, Games and Films Awards - The broadcast grants offer support for projects that engage the public with issues in biomedical science in an innovative, entertaining and accessible way.
- 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.
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
- 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. Applications open in May 2017.
- 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; small grants of up to £2,000 and large grants of £2,000 to £10,000.
- 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 – 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. Applications close on Wednesday 22nd March.
- 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.
- 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. Applications close on Friday 21st April.
- 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
- 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. Applciations open in April 2017 with successful projects to be completed by the end of February 2018.
Engagement Funding within Research Grants
Some research funders offer additional support for societal engagement alongside research programmes.If you are considering including a request for engagement funds as part of your research funding application and would like advice, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- 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.
- Provision for 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, or at a later date as a grantholder, providing you have two or more years remaining on your research grant. 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.