A researcher demonstrates a scientific experiment to a young girl

Applications closed

Applications for the 2019/20 Seed Fund are now closed. Applications for the 2020/21 Seed Fund will open in Autumn 2020.

For a substantial list of alternative funding opportunities, please visit our Funding page.

What is the Seed Fund and who is it for?

Our Societal Engagement Seed Fund aims to support staff to engage the wider public with our research and education, for mutual benefit. 

The Societal Engagement Seed Fund has been introduced to:

  1. Encourage and enable a wider range, and greater number of, Imperial staff to develop and deliver new societal engagement initiatives.
  2. Enhance the diversity of engagement initiatives across Imperial. In particular encouraging two-way engagement – where participants are involved in the engagement process and/or involved in the research process.
  3. Engage a range of patients, publics, schools and local communities with Imperial’s research and/or education in a mutually beneficial way.
  4. Increase the number of collaborative approaches to engagement.
  5. Fund initiatives that have potential to strengthen research impact; leading to new applications for external funding and supporting Imperial’s strategic goals.

What we're looking for

Seed Fund proposals could include a discrete project or a pilot activity to be further developed, and should include one or more of the following outcomes:

  • Develop high-quality engagement with research activities that strengthen research impact.
  • Extend previous successful societal engagement activities (e.g. reach a new audience group or develop a new collaboration).
  • Undertake pilots of pioneering engagement activities to evaluate what works, ideally with a view to future development including securing external funding.
  • Develop the engagement skills and learnings of the wider Imperial College Community.

For examples of previously funded engagement projects, read about previous recipients of our Seed Fund

Up to £15,000 will be awarded in December 2019. This includes £5,000 available this year due to generous support from Humphrey Battcock. This will be used to support projects that involve innovative, two-way, creative approaches to public engagement with Imperial’s research. The application form, guidance, desired outcomes and eligibility criteria outlined in the rest of the document still apply to these projects. This funding means it is possible for us to potentially support more projects this round that take a rich, in-depth and creative approach to engagement that influences and is influenced by current research undertaken at Imperial College.  

Information for applicants

Funding and eligibility

Applicants can request funding in the range of £300 - £2,000. Up to £15,000 will be awarded in December 2019. From this total, £5,000 is allocated to specifically support projects that involve innovative, two-way, creative approaches to public engagement with Imperial's research.


  1. The Principal Applicant must be an Imperial staff member, but proposals can involve a team made up of students and/or external partners.
  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. Exhibiting at the Imperial Festival and Lates should not be the sole objective of the proposal, although proposals can incorporate the Festival or Lates events as one output among others.
  5. Projects need to engage one or more of the following audiences – schools, local community groups, patients and the wider public*.
  6. 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 point 5, would not be eligible.

 *In this context, the public includes "individuals, groups, young people and their families, who do not currently have a formal relationship with a HEI through teaching, research or knowledge transfer, but who may have an interest in these activities or upon whom the research or its application could impact.” – Research Councils UK.

If your project is relating to the Imperial BRC you may be eligible for the Imperial BRC PPI Seed Fund.

Use of funds
Eligible costsInternalExternal
 Staff costs  Not eligible Students and/or freelancers are eligible costs (i.e. a day rate)
 Travel  Eligible   Eligible 
 Subsistence   Eligible  Eligible 
 Consumables/ equipment  Eligible  Eligible 
 Training costs  Eligible  Eligible 
 Indirect and estate costs  Not eligible  Not eligible
 Bench costs  Not eligible  Not eligible
Summary of the table's contents

How to apply

Please download and complete the Seed Fund application form

Please also read the Seed Fund guidance notesOne supporting document is allowed 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. You can also Read how to avoid common pitfalls when applying to our Seed Fund.

Application forms and supporting documentation (if any) are to be sent to societal_engagement@imperial.ac.uk.

For examples of previously funded engagement projects, read about previous recipients of our Seed Fund.


Applications open 3 October 2019
Closing date for applications  22 November 2019
Applicants are informed of the Awarding Panel's decision  20 December 2019
Project delivery phase  1 January - 31 July 2020
Project completion and final reports due  31 July 2020
Summary of the table's contents

Review of applications

Applications will be considered by a selection panel chaired by Professor Maggie Dallman, Associate Provost (Academic Partnerships), with representation from across the College.

Applications will be judged against the following six criteria: 

  • Quality – The engagement activities encourage two-way engagement. 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 and/or engagement activity.
  • Targeted – 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.
  • Impact – 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.
  • Evaluation – Evidence of realistic evaluation commensurate to the project.
  • 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.
  • Legacy – 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. 

Accessing funds and reporting

  • A degree of evaluation commensurate to the project scale will be required from you.
  • A brief final report will be required to summarise achievements and findings from your evaluation. Final reports should be sent to societal_engagement@imperial.ac.uk on or before 31 July 2020.
  • Project activities will need to be documented in some way e.g. by photography or AV, to capture the process and the outcome, which may be shared with the wider College community through the Societal Engagement webpages and/or internal news stories.
  • For successful projects, please contact your Finance Officers for advice on setting up an internal G account code linked to the relevant departmental cost centre. Once your code is established, please inform the societal engagement team who will arrange for the funds to be transferred to you. All funds must be spent by 31 July 2020.