Apply now

Complete the Rapid response seed fund application form and send it to

Please use the guidance notes to help you with your application.

There is no deadline but the panel will review applications in the order they come in. We aim to get back to you with the outcome within a week.

Funding for public engagement with research during social distancing

Do you have an idea for public engagement during social distancing? We are launching a special Rapid Response Seed Fund offering £500 - £2,500 to help bring your idea to life.

With public engagement as important as ever and face-to-face activities currently not an option, our new seed fund will support ideas for online or self-guided research-related activities that enable mutually beneficial outcomes for both public participants and research outcomes. Projects should start as soon as possible and help to bring about positive outcomes within the current year. Additionally, activities will ideally be of benefit beyond the pandemic to complement our other public engagement programmes.

This fund is in addition to our usual annual Societal Engagement Seed Fund that runs Sept to July.

Projects supported as part of this new seed fund will be:

  • Delivered via digital or online platforms or alternatively physical activities that can be completed remotely. The development and delivery of projects should be suitable for the current environment and adhere to social distancing guidelines.
  • Related to an area of Imperial’s research. Activities must relate to an area of current research and ideally be developed and/or delivered with the involvement of researchers.
  • Two-way with mutual benefit for public participants and research. Projects should involve meaningful interaction between researchers and public or community groups leading to positive experiences and impacts for both public participants and research outcomes. (Projects which deliver only one-way communication/broadcasting /dissemination will not be funded).
  • Rapid. We are looking for projects that can make a positive difference this year. Activities may be pilots for a longer-term project and of course, may be on-going beyond the funded period.

In addition, projects may meet some or all of the following:

  • Encourage innovative approaches to collaboration across public and non-academic partners
  • Share learning about engagement approaches with colleagues

If you have ideas for engagement and are not sure whether they meet these criteria, please still get in touch:

You can find examples of projects funded through our regular Societal Engagement seed fund here.

Further information

Application process

Project proposals are invited on a rolling basis - there is no deadline for applications.

Please use the guidance notes to help you complete the Rapid response seed fund application form and send it to You may supply one supporting document per application (no more than one page in length) that either provides images or diagrams or provides details of a previous similar project, to help illustrate your proposal.

For any questions, please contact

Proposals will be reviewed according to the order they are received and we will aim to get back to applicants within one week of submission.



In addition to the points above relating to the aims of the scheme, the following eligibility criteria apply:

  1. The Principal Applicant must be an Imperial staff member, but proposals can involve a team made up of students and/or external partners as well as the Principal Applicant.
  2. Proposals can have international reach and can involve international collaborators, partners and/or audiences.
  3. Existing engagement activities will not be eligible for funding, unless the proposal demonstrates that a significant new/different element is being introduced, such as a new collaborator, audience or approach.
  4. Projects need to engage one or more of the following audiences – schools, local community groups, patients and the wider public. The target audience of activities should be those who do not currently have a formal relationship with university (such as students, staff and academic research collaborators).
  5. Projects can involve the engagement of other stakeholders, such as from industry, government or the media, however projects that only engage these stakeholders and not the audiences listed in Eligibility Point 4, would not be eligible.

Review process

Proposals will be reviewed according to the order they are received.

We will aim to get back to applicants within one week of submission.

In the interests of speed, proposals will be reviewed by a small panel from the Public Engagement team. Specialist guest reviewers (internal or external) will be invited where appropriate, such as where technical advice is needed on a particular platform or where others have experience with the proposed approach or target audience.

The review panel will consist of:

-        Head of Public Engagement

-        Senior Public Engagement Programmes Manager

-        Engagement Manager (capacity building and Evaluation)

-        Specialist digital adviser where necessary

Applications will be judged against the following criteria:

Quality of approach

The engagement activities facilitate two-way engagement with research.

For example, audiences and/or collaborators are involved in the development of the engagement process and/or involved in an Imperial research process – rather than solely being a recipient of the dissemination of our research.

Suitability of approach

The proposed approach would enable digital, online, remote or self-led engagement with research. Potential platforms or formats have been well selected and are appropriate for the aims of the project (considering target audience, accessibility, reach, functionality and style).

Targeted audience

Targeting of specific audiences with a clear rationale for why those participants, collaborators, and/or partners have been targeted, and evidence that there is sufficient means to reach those audiences.

Detailed descriptions are encouraged rather than broad terms such as ‘the general public’ e.g. specific research beneficiaries, ethnic minorities, socioeconomic groups, school key stages, geographically isolated communities, independent adults, families with under 5s.


What is the need for the project and how will it benefit all those involved. For example participants, audiences and collaborators, as well as meeting Imperial’s research and strategic goals.

Relevance of the project or research to the target audience(s). The potential to impact research and/or researchers. Timeliness – Why is this needed now? E.g. linking to external events or agendas e.g. National Science Week, local festivals, or anniversaries of key people/events. Or linking to specific elements of the research lifecycle.


Evidence of realistic evaluation commensurate to the project.

Timeframe and achievability

Clear and realistic objectives and timelines with a clear plan for delivery of the project and the right expertise involved to make the project a success. Potential for the project to realise benefits within a short timeframe.


The extent to which the project leaves a legacy beyond the life of the project.

This could be skills developed (internally and/or externally), relationships/collaborations developed and/or maintained, new avenues for funding being sought or lessons learnt to inform future engagement projects.

Use of funds

We expect project proposals in the region of £500 - £2,500.

If you have an idea for a project that will cost more than £2,500 please do still get in touch ( as there may be a different funding route we can help you with.

A case can be made for technical equipment, but the seed funding should not solely be spent on general equipment such as laptops or cameras. This fund is to support public engagement with research and therefore costs should be directed towards resources that facilitate the development and delivery of these activities specifically.

Please see the following table for other eligible costs:

Eligible costs



Staff costs

Not eligible

Students and/or freelancers are eligible costs (i.e. a day rate)










Training costs



Indirect and estate costs

Not eligible

Not eligible

Bench costs

Not eligible

Not eligible