Funding opportunities

Current funding available for public engagement activities.

Internal funding

Public Engagement Development Fund

Applications now closed for academic year 2017/18

The Public Engagement & Impact Team are offering small grants to enable academic staff to begin public engagement and fund projects where grant funding does not currently exist. This may be where applicants have not undertaken public engagement activities before, or where there is potential for follow on activities to take place. Traditionally this type of project has been difficult for the University to resource.

More information and details on how to apply

External funding

UK Research Councils

Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

1. Pathways to Impact

The main way to apply for public engagement funding from the AHRC is via the Pathways to Impact section of a grant application. This means that public engagement can take place at any point, before the research begins to help shape the research question, during the research grant as part of the research process, or at the end of the grant to feedback on the findings and potentially influence the future research portfolio.

2. Follow-on Funding

The AHRC Follow-on Funding for Impact and Engagement Scheme provides funds to support innovative and creative engagements with new audiences and user communities which stimulate pathways to impact. Funds will be awarded for knowledge exchange, public engagement, active dissemination and commercialisation activities that arise unforeseeably during the lifespan of or following an AHRC-funded project. The AHRC Follow-on Funding for Impact and Engagement scheme operates without formal deadlines and offers awards of up to £100,000 for a maximum of 12 months. Smaller awards of up to £30,000 are encouraged for shorter or higher risk activities.

Contact details


AHRC website

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)

BBSRC focuses its public engagement activities around our strategic priorities: industrial biotechnology and bioenergy; agriculture and food security and bioscience for health. BBSRC supports collaborative and partnership activities in these areas. They currently spend around £1M per year on public engagement activities.

1. Pathways to Impact

In line with the RCUK Concordat for engaging the public with research, BBSRC are working to embed its public engagement within research grants and so the BBSRC small awards for public engagement are no longer available. Public engagement activities should be applied for via the research grant applications.

2. Public Engagement Training

This free BBSRC course aims to inspire and support BBSRC researchers to carry out effective public engagement that reflects upon the social and ethical perspectives of their work.

Contact details


BBSRC website

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

Under EPSRC's Royal Charter, one of its objectives is to ‘generate public awareness; communicate research outcomes; encourage public engagement and dialogue; and disseminate knowledge’. As well as encouraging researchers to engage with the public, EPSRC works in partnership with a number of organisations to ensure that they communicate with a wide public audience.

1. Pathways to Impact

Societal impact is a key area considered under 'Impact', so researchers can request resources for public engagement activities where appropriate for the project. Researchers should aim for a two-way interaction with the public instead of just disseminating the findings. For example, work with a selected user group where there may be a tangible and relevant output. For areas with a potential societal or ethical impact, you could gauge current public attitudes toward the area.

Public engagement can occur at any point: before research begins to help shape a research question; during, as part of the research process; or at the end, to feedback findings and potentially influence the future research portfolio. Public engagement activities may include science festivals, debates, discussions, and consultation with public audiences appropriate to your research.

Resources eligible for full economic costing can be requested, for example, to cover training in public engagement and communications, public engagement, specialist staff expertise and support, materials and venue costs, or travel expenses and so on.

2. Holmes Hines Memorial Fund

EPSRC acts as trustees for the Holmes Hines Memorial Fund, a charitable bequest with the aim of providing funds to support the advancement of science. The fund is comparatively small (maximum recent award is £1500), but it makes several small awards each year. The applications can cover any area of science and engineering. Examples of recent funding include support for Summer Science Camp, contributions towards the running of Schools’ Science Weeks and After School Clubs.

3. Festivals

EPSRC supports a number of science festivals and uses these as a vehicle for the organisation to engage with the public – they don’t take applications to participate in the festivals from academics. The festivals they support include Cheltenham Science Festival, Edinburgh International Science Festival and Big Bang Fair

Contact details

Telephone: 01793 444 000

EPSRC website

Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

Public engagement involves activities that bring researchers and the public together. Activities can range from engaging people with social science concepts through staging debates to involving key stakeholders in shaping research priorities and directions.

1. ESRC Festival of Social Science

The ESRC Festival of Social Science takes place annually in November and has been running for 12 years. The Festival takes place across the UK – via public debates, conferences, workshops, interactive seminars, film screenings, virtual exhibitions and much more. ESRC provide funding either via institutions or directly to individuals for the Festival of Social Science. The University of Sheffield receives funding from ESRC for the Festival of Social Science.

2. Celebrating Impact Prize

The Celebrating Impact Prize, now in its sixth year, is an annual opportunity to recognise and reward ESRC-funded researchers and ESRC associates. It celebrates outstanding ESRC research and success in interdisciplinary, collaborative working, partnerships, engagement and knowledge exchange activities that have led to significant impact.

3. Pathways to Impact

The cost of public engagement opportunities can be included in ESRC grant applications.

Contact details

Telephone: 01793 413 000

ESRC website

Medical Research Council (MRC)

The MRC encourages the scientists it funds to take part in public engagement activities. Sharing work with the wider world is a crucial part of MRC’s mission. There are many ways to do this: science festivals, lab open days, patient conferences and science cafes are all good opportunities to engage.

1. Pathways to Impact

Researchers are encouraged to actively think about the pathways for realising the potential impact of their within Research Council grant applications as part of their Pathways to Impact. This can include public engagement activities which are project specific and could contribute to generating impact from the research proposed. Applicants can request resources for these activities.

2. Max Perutz Science Writing Award

The Max Perutz Science Writing Award aims to encourage and recognise outstanding written communication among MRC PhD students. The annual competition challenges entrants to write an 800-word article for the general public answering the question: 'Why does my research matter?'. The winner receives a prize of £1,500. It is an annual competition.

3. MRC Festival of Medical Research

MRC launched its Festival of Medical Research in 2015. MRC funded units, centres and institutes can apply to MRC for funding directly to take part. The University of Sheffield applies has taken part in the MRC Festival of Medical Research every year since it was launched through funding from the MRC Festival Open Award. The University applies on behalf of MRC researchers and co-ordinates the event organisation.

4. MRC Public Engagement in Science Activities - Seed Fund

To encourage and support engagement with the public and other stakeholders, funds are available to enable MRC-funded scientists to pilot new activities and develop innovative engagements. Applications are typically for between a few hundred and £5000.

5. Alexander Fleming Dissemination Scheme

To fund the dissemination of MRC and MRF-funded peer-reviewed research results beyond the scientific press to patients, research participants, practitioners and policymakers. Awards will be made to meet the costs of the dissemination activities and will be no greater than £30,000.

Contact details


MRC website

Natural and Environment Research Council (NERC)

As the UK's leading public funder of environmental science NERC is committed to communicating its work as widely as possible, to inform and enthuse non-scientific audiences about environmental science and to demonstrate the economic and societal benefits that science brings.

1. Pathways to Impact

Public engagement activities are considered a pathway to potential economic and societal impacts. Researchers can request resources and time to undertake relevant public engagement activities to achieve their Pathways to Impact. They are working to embed public engagement within research grants (in line with the Concordat for Engaging the Public with Research) and encourage grant applicants to do this.

2. Funding for public engagement

NERC supports a strategic public engagement programme. Details of the funding calls are published on their website.

Contact details


NERC website

Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC)

STFC’s mission is to use STFC science & technology as the basis of inspiring public engagement. The STFC community plays a vital role in helping them to reach new audiences: their grant programmes support high quality public engagement across the country, and build community networks and partnerships to help raise standards of engagement.

1. Leadership Fellows in Public Engagement

STFC Leadership Fellows in Public Engagement undertake high quality programmes of engagement and outreach while concurrently acting as champions for the value and practice of engagement with research in their host institution and research community. The maximum value that may be sought is £125K.

2. Public Engagement Spark Awards

STFC Spark Award holders undertake high quality programmes of novel public engagement that inspire and involve target audiences with stories of STFC science and technology. The maximum funding available for a Spark Award is £15,000.

3. Public Engagement Nucleus Awards

STFC Nucleus Award holders undertake high quality programmes of novel public engagement that inspire and involve target audiences with stories of STFC science and technology. Award holders may also use Nucleus Awards to create and sustain public engagement networks that develop communities of practice. The maximum value that may be sought by organisations covered by fEC is £125K, and the maximum payable by STFC is £100K.

4. Public Engagement Legacy Awards

Legacy Awards allow the holders of previous STFC public engagement awards to apply for funding to continue their programmes, and evolve those programmes based on learning and evaluation. To be awarded a Legacy Award, an applicant will have to demonstrate both the success of their original engagement programme, and evidence that success via good-quality evaluation. Legacy Awards may be used for the continuation of STFC Small Awards, Large Awards, Spark Awards, and Nucleus Awards. The maximum value awarded is £106K or £112K depending on whether it is the first or second legacy award.

5. Public Engagement Reaction Awards

Reaction Awards are a mechanism to allow the funding of public engagement programmes that are a fast response to new and/or unexpected significant developments related to STFC’s science and technology remit. Most commonly, Reaction Awards will focus around new discoveries in STFC’s research fields that generate significant public interest. The maximum funding available for a Reaction Award is £5,000.

6. School Grants Scheme

Schools, colleges and home school groups based in the UK and Ireland can apply for a school grant of up to £600. Grants are awarded for projects, events and activities linked with the promotion of physics and engineering.

7. Funding from Research Grants

STFC states that you can request project specific resources for public engagement in your case for support. You can mention this in your Pathways to Impact plan but resource details should be provided in the case for support. This applies only for public engagement outreach that is directly connected with your project and not for wider public engagement- such as general public engagement work at University level.

Contact details


STFC website

Other public engagement funding

Arts Council National Lottery Project Grants

Project Grants is the new open access programme for arts, museums and libraries projects, funded by the National Lottery. The fund will support thousands of individual artists, community and cultural organisations. If you are considering submitting an application to the Wellcome Trust for public engagement funding, please email us at or call on 0114 222 0563.

British Ecological Society

The British Ecological Society actively encourage its members to promote ecological science to a wide audience and offers grants of up to £2,000.

Biomedical Society

The Biomedical Society supports scientific outreach activities that communicate the excitement of molecular bioscience to young people and the community, with grants of up to £1000.

British Psychological Society

The Society’s public engagement grants support members who want to promote psychology to wider audiences.

British Society for Immunology

The British Society for Immunology is seeking to raise awareness and understanding of the role of immunology in our lives.

CBMNet Public Engagement Grants

Grants of up to £500 are available to CBMNet members for projects that encourage the public to explore industrial biotechnology, its impact on society and culture, its historical roots or the ethical questions that it raises.

European Geosciences Union

The European Geosciences Union awards grants which celebrate and recognise excellent science communication in the Earth, planetary and space sciences.

Institute of Physics

Up to £2,000 funding is available for those running physics-based events and activities in the UK and Ireland.

Microbiology Society

Grants of up to £1,000 are available to support relevant science teaching or promotion initiatives, or to support developments likely to lead to an improvement in the teaching of any aspect of microbiology.

Royal Academy of Engineering

Ingenious is an awards scheme for projects that engage the public with engineers and engineering. Funding is available from £3,000 to £30,000.

Royal Society of Chemistry

The Royal Society of Chemistry's Outreach Fund provides financial support to individuals and organisations to enable them to run chemistry-based events and activities for public audiences. Funding is available up to £25,000.

Society for Endocrinology

The Society is committed to supporting its members to engage non-specialist audiences with hormones and the impact of endocrinology, with grants available of up to £1000.

The Royal Society

Do you have a great idea for bringing research alive in school? Partnership Grants of up to £3,000 are available to schools to enable students, aged 5–18, to carry out science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) projects.

The Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology

The SPA now welcomes proposals which seek to develop innovative forms of engagement and proposals which demonstrate the potential to engage non-traditional audiences. Funding of up to £500 can be applied for, deadlines are on the 1st of March each year.

The Physiological Society

Public engagement grants of up to £5000 are available to promote the discussion of physiology with public audiences.

Wellcome Trust

This fund enables individuals and organisations to use creative approaches in engaging the public with health research. Awards range from £25,000 to £3 million. Your project funding can last up to three years. If you are considering submitting an application to the Wellcome Trust for public engagement funding, please email us at or call on 0114 222 0563.