two female scientists look at sample


The NHLI Pilot Awards Early Career/Immediate Fellowship Call is now open. 

Applications should be made through the online form by 16 July 2024, 10am.

The regular NHLI Pilot Awards is currently closed for applications. The next round will be in October 2024.

Read reports of previous awardees

The NHLI Foundation has generously donated funds to support early career researchers who have completed their PhD to enable individuals wishing to transition to independence to develop their own funding portfolio with pilot research projects, laboratory visits and/or specialist training courses. The awards are entirely flexible and can be used in any way that will provide benefit to the individual in pursuing an independent, academic career path.

Candidates must hold a PhD at the time of application and an employment contract with Imperial College London (in NHLI) which extends sufficiently beyond the end date of proposed project/visit or training completion to allow for impact. Awards can be used in entirely flexible ways but must be compliant with College policies. The maximum amount which can be requested is £5,000.

Guidance Notes

Please ensure you have read these notes and complete the application accordingly.

Eligibility - Applicants must:

  • Hold a PhD at time of application and be a College employee within NHLI.
  • Hold at the time of application a position which extends sufficiently beyond the end date of proposed project/visit or training completion to allow for impact.
  • Awards can only be made to an individual once.
  • Individuals who already hold a fellowship or academic position are not eligible to apply.


All costs requested should be fully justified and supported with evidence that value for money has been sought. Compliance with Imperial College London expenses policies is mandatory and exception should be fully justified. Claims not in line with College policy will not be reimbursed. Awards can be made at reduced levels and not all the costs requested may be supported. The maximum amount which can be requested through the NHLI Foundation Pilot Award scheme is £5,000. 

Eligible costs include:

• Collaborative research visits (travel, subsistence, accommodation)
• Specialist training courses
• Equipment
• Consumables
• Research expenses

Ineligible costs include:

• Expenses which have already been incurred
• Conference costs (applications for conference attendance can be made through the NHLI Travel Awards scheme) 
• Contributions towards own salary
• Top up funding for existing projects

Post-award reports

• A progress report containing accomplishments towards the goal of the project, plans for the following steps and expenditure should be submitted within a month of completion.
• A lay report detailing the project and how this award contributed to your career should be submitted within a month of completion. This document will be used to communicate to others within NHLI (through the newsletter, website and blog), as well as to the Foundation what you have achieved through being a recipient of a pilot award.


Eligible applications will be evaluated by each Pilot Award Committee Panel member against a number of criteria (detailed below) with the major one, in light of the purpose of the funding, being ‘Research Details and Career Progression’:

• Applicant details and biography.
• The biography should provide a succinct summary of your career to date and key achievements. It should not focus on the research you are undertaking but your personal career.
• Research details and career progression.
• Proposal – this section should specify the scientific purpose of the project/visit or training, novelty and importance. Please provide sufficient detail to allow for this to be assessed.
• Expected outcomes and impact - this section should detail outcomes and impact and describe of how this award will contribute to the development of your career overall and potentially lead to securing independent funding.
• Lay summary – this section should explain your research project to non-experts in the field rather than researchers and professionals. It should be written in plain English and avoid the use of jargon and technical terms. Useful guidance on writing a lay summary can be found here.
• Financial justification of costs and value for money.
• You should provide a justification of each cost being requested and explain how you have sought best value. If a visit is proposed, please ensure costs requested are as per the College’s expenses policy. Failure to provide justification or supply screenshots as appropriate will score 0.
• Line manager supporting statement.
• Your line manager should provide you support in your application and explain why you should be selected.

Printed copies are not required but your line manager must provide a statement of support and attached to the application. Late, incorrect or incomplete applications will not be considered under any circumstances.