The aim of these awards is to provide financial support for innovative and original research projects of high quality and potential, the choice of theme and the design of the research lying entirely with the applicant (the Principal Investigator). The grants provide support for the salaries of research staff engaged on the project, plus associated costs directly related to the research proposed.
Proposals are favoured which:
  • reflect the personal vision of the applicant;
  • demonstrate compelling competence in the research design;
  • surmount traditional disciplinary academic boundaries;
  • involve a degree of challenge and evidence of the applicant's ability to assess risk.

Value and Duration

The great majority of awards involve a spend of up to £250,000 over a duration of two to three years. If compelling evidence is provided, awards may be made for sums between £250,000 and £500,000 for research over a period of up to five years. The assessment procedures for these large grants are especially stringent, and can involve site visits and discussions with applicants.


Applications for research on any topic within the entire array of academic disciplines are eligible for support. However, an exception is made for areas of research supported by specialist funding agencies and, in particular, for medicine. In such cases, applicants should consider an application to these alternative funding bodies as being more appropriate. Specific attention is paid to the reasons given by applicants in justifying their choice of the Trust as the most appropriate agency for the support of their project.


Eligible institutions are universities, other institutions of higher and further education in the UK, and registered charities in the UK. The scheme is also open to institutions or organisations of similar status in developing countries where, in the opinion of the Trustees, the provision of research funding is seriously limited.

Joint applications from more than one institution and applicant are welcomed. However, a Principal Investigator must be designated as the lead applicant, having agreed to take responsibility for directing the grant. The Principal Investigator's employing institution must also agree to administer the grant, if awarded. The applicant will therefore already be employed by the eligible institution or be an academic who has maintained close links with that institution following retirement. Applications can be submitted by those holding contract research posts, provided that their appointment continues for a period at least equal to the span of the requested award.


Research project grants provide (i) salaries for research staff and (ii) associated research costs.

(i) Salaries for research staff:

At least 75% of the resources requested must be used to provide funding for research staff (research assistants; postgraduate students) who will work specifically on the project with the applicant, the award being payable directly to the institution at which the applicant is employed. Research assistants should have a research degree or equivalent research experience. The tuition fees and maintenance costs of a PhD studentship or studentships may be included provided they are set at the base rate for Research Council awards for UK students. Support for an overseas student is allowable, but requires explicit justification, addressing how his or her specific skills are to contribute to the project.

The Principal Investigator and co-applicants may apply for the costs of staffing replacement. To be eligible for these, applicants must be currently employed full-time on a continuing basis by their eligible institution. An applicant's study leave entitlement and recent periods of leave will be taken into consideration in the assessment of the proposal. A maximum of a total of one year's staff replacement over the course of a three year grant - and pro rata for shorter grants - may be awarded. The replacement should not be someone currently studying for a research degree. The staff replacement should normally start at the most junior point of the lecturer scale of the institution concerned.

Awards are not made to cover the salary costs of the applicant, or those of the co-applicants.

Timing for Full Applications

Closing dates Anticipated announcement of decision Earliest possible start date
1 September early December 1 January
1 December mid March 1 May
21 March mid July 1 September


If your query is not answered in the information available online, please contact:

Matt Dillnutt at: mdillnutt at regarding outline applications (020 7042 9873);
Nicola Thorp at: nthorp at regarding detailed applications (020 7042 9872).

Find all application details here