School children take part in a demonstration at Imperial Festival

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

We offer 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. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Learn more about the Societal Engagement Seed Fund.

Participatory Research Seed Fund

Participatory research is broadly defined as public participation in research, with public participants contributing at any stage of the research lifecycle (eg. co-production, co-creation, citizen science).  The fund can allocate in the region of £2,000 - £5,000 per project, and may support new or existing projects as a whole or only a specific segment of it, with room allowed for negotiation around total funding allocation (as long as the application justifies any extra requirements). 

Learn more about the Participatory Research Seed Fund

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Seed Fund

The EDI Seed Fund offers £10,000 each year to help nurture and stimulate our community's creativity so that it might have the maximum impact, helping to build a fully inclusive institutional culture at Imperial.

Find out more about the EDI Seed Fund.

Outreach Seed Fund for Recruiting Black Students

Imperial College London has identified Home Black students as underrepresented in its undergraduate student population. It has therefore committed in its Access and Participation Plan to double the intake of Black heritage students by 2025. Access and participation plans set out how higher education providers such as universities will improve access to, success during and progression from university, specifically for groups that are underrepresented.

The Outreach Seed Fund for Recruiting Black Students* will support students at the College to develop and deliver Outreach initiatives targeted at engaging Black UK students with our research and education to inspire the next generation of Black UK students to make a successful application to the College.

Find out more about the Outreach Seed Fund for Recruiting Black Students.

Research Councils

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)

BBSRC standard research grants are for researchers at eligible organisations that include: higher education institutions, research council institutes, approved independent research organisations, and sector research establishments. Funding can support a range of activities from research projects to technology development, new infrastructure and equipment, use of equipment and facilities, networks, and summer schools.

Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

  • Education research programme 2022: Apply for funding to join a research programme exploring teaching and learning, with a focus on teachers and their training, supply and retention the uses of technology in teaching and learning.
  • ESRC new investigator grant: Awarding new investigator grants to support new researchers at the start of their careers, based at research organisations eligible for UKRI funding, to become independent researchers through gaining experience of managing and leading research projects and teams.
  • ESRC research grant: Awarding research grants to fund individuals or research teams based at research organisations eligible for UKRI funding.

Medical Research Council (MRC)

  • MRC Public engagement seed fund: Open to all MRC and Medical Research Foundation (MRF) - funded researchers and those working in MRC research institutes, units and centres. Their aim is to support the piloting of new activities and take advantage of unexpected engagement opportunities.
  • MRC Neurosciences and mental health partnership: Apply for a grant to support new partnerships between diverse groups of researchers in neurosciences and mental health. The grant will allow you to establish new, high-value collaborative activities or capabilities and add value to high-quality scientific programmes that are already supported by grants from MRC and other funders.
  • MRC Population and systems medicine research: Apply for funding for research projects focused on population and systems medicine. You can involve more than one research group or institution in the project.

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 urgency funding – This fund allows researchers to respond quickly to transient and unexpected scientific opportunities. These may be events affecting the environment like earthquakes or volcanic eruptions. The aim is to help researchers collect valuable data at the start of the event before other events and actions affect the data collection. You can apply if you are a research group or an individual based at a UK university or other approved institution. 

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.
  • Public Engagement Reaction Awards: These awards are a mechanism to allow the funding of public engagement programmes that are a fast response to new and/or unexpected significant developments related to STFC’s science and technology remit. Irrespective of focus, Reaction Award applications will propose high quality and extremely timely programmes of public engagement that inspire and involve target audiences with stories of STFC science and technology.
  • 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.

Charities and networks

Wolfson Foundation

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:

  1. Increased numbers of visitors and engagement of new audiences
  2. Improved educational experience and understanding of science
  3. Improved financial stability of the organisation 

Black Environment Network

The Ethnic Minorities Award Scheme for Environmental Projects (EMAS) – The Black Environment Network (BEN) offer small grants of up to £500 for individuals undertaking projects which concern the environment and involve people from ethnic communities. 

Learned Societies

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

  • Public Engagement Grant Scheme: This scheme provides up to £2000 to individuals and organisations running physics-based events and activities in the UK and Ireland.
  • 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.

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

  • 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

  • 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

  • Research Dissemination Grants provide funding up to a maximum of £2,000 for activities involving the discussion and dissemination of new economic research. The activities may include the organisation of workshops, mini-conferences, short seminar series, and could be on-line entirely or in part. The purpose is to bring together a group of researchers from different institutions focusing on a specific area of interest and promote its development and understanding among the research community.  

 

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: Impact is now a core consideration throughout the grant application process and showing how the applicant(s) will maximise the impact of the proposed research should therefore be intrinsic to the proposal itself in a way that is appropriate to the nature and scope of the research being proposed. For example, in proposals focused on discovery research the proposal may focus principally on the generation of new knowledge, whilst proposals with significant elements of applied research may have impacts related to economic and societal benefit 

Wellcome Trust

  • Research Enrichment (Public Engagement): This funding supports Wellcome grantholders who want to use public insights to develop their research. Engagement helps to build the public's trust in research, and ensure research is valued within society.

    More information about eligibility and the application process can be found here, including guidance notes and common pitfalls to avoid in your application.