Information about funding for researchers with little or no experience of public engagement with research, including who can apply and the assessment process.

Our Engage Grant Initiator Fund is open for researchers and experimental and technical staff at any level, including doctoral students, who wish to carry out small-scale or pilot public engagement to; support their learning about engagement, gain experience of engagement and develop their engagement ideas. This fund is particularly aimed at those researchers and experimental and technical staff with little or no experience of engagement with their research, and for reaching public groups that you may not have worked with in the past.

Examples of Initiator Fund activities include (but are not limited to):

  • developing small-scale pilots of engagement activities to evaluate what works and does not for all involved
  • trying out existing engagement activities (your own, or others) with new public groups or delivering in a different context
  • developing your public engagement skills and practice by trying out new engagement methods or working with new public group etc.

An application can cover one or more of the above activities or other relevant ideas not listed, but must not exceed £500. The grant cannot be used to cover time for the researcher(s) involved.

In the context of this funding call, the ‘public’ is defined as any person or group outside of academia.

A total of £2,500 is available for this call. The Public Engagement Unit reserve the right not to allocate all the funds available.

Generally, we have found that projects of this scale usually take six months to develop and deliver, if you are planning a longer project please make the case within your application.

Who can apply

This call is open to any member of staff in the Research & Education and Technical & Experimental job families (any discipline or career stage) and doctoral students who are looking to engage the public with their research. We would particularly encourage early career researchers to apply.

Doctoral students will need to secure permission from their supervisors in order to apply for this award.

We welcome applications from all Faculties but would particularly welcome applications from Departments within the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Engineering and Design to ensure we are providing adequate support across all Departments.


Assessment criteria

  • A clearly articulated link between current high-quality research and the proposed engagement activity, a clearly defined public group and clear explanation of how the engagement will benefit the public group, research or applicant
  • A plan to evaluate the success of the project, including the evaluation tools to be used, must be included in the project bid
  • A clear and justified outline of the costs. This may include financial provision to enable external partners to be involved
  • A realistic project plan highlighting the feasibility of the project within the budget limits and the timescales outlined
  • Priority will be given to projects that clearly meet the needs of the local community

Assessment process

Application forms must be emailed to [ no later than 5pm on Thursday 9 April with ‘Initiator Fund’ in the subject line.

Applications will be reviewed by a panel made up of:

  • the Public Engagement Unit
  • Dr Sally Adams (Vice-Chancellor’s Engage Award Winner 2019)

A member of the Public Engagement Unit will be in touch as to the outcome of your application the week commencing the 27 April 2020.


All projects will be required to report their learning, outcomes and experiences to the Public Engagement Unit. Award holders will be expected to share their learning and experiences through events and formats that the Public Engagement Unit coordinate and manage.

A follow up meeting will be held on Wednesday 2 December 2020 from 14:15 – 15:45 (room TBC) to allow successful applicants to feedback to each other and the Public Engagement Unit, share the learning that has resulted from their project and receive help and advice from the Public Engagement Unit for their final report.

Please keep availability for this date if possible. However, it will not affect your application if you are unavailable for this meeting.

There is an expectation that all successful applications will need to show how they will share their learning and outcomes from the project to their colleagues within departments and across the University. This could involve sharing learning from the projects at departmental meetings or University wide events such as the annual Engage Showcase.


Call opens

Thursday 27 February 2020

Call closes

Thursday 9 April 2020

Awards start

From the beginning of May 2020

Reports due

Before Wednesday 2 December 2020

If you are considering an application, we would strongly encourage you to speak with a member of the Public Engagement Unit about your project prior to application submission. Please email the Public Engagement Unit via