Our strategy

This framework sets out how we plan to improve health, through three complementary approaches across science, research, and engagement with society.

It builds on our 2010 Strategic Plan and has no fixed time-frame. It includes initial priority themes; more will follow.

It allows us to adapt as new ideas and challenges arise, drawing on insights from 80 years of achievement and our broad network of experts.

It also allows us to respond quickly in a crisis, as we did to support new vaccines for Ebola.

Find out more about our philosophy and the strategic framework below, or read more about they shape what we do.

Our Philosophy

Good health makes life better. We want to improve health for everyone by helping great ideas to thrive.

Science and research expand knowledge by testing and investigating ideas. This new understanding can be applied to health, and change medicine, behaviour and society.

That’s why we support thousands of curious, passionate people all over the world to explore great ideas, at every step of the way from discovery to impact.

Together, we can do more. We can drive reform to ensure that ideas can reach their full potential. And we can give focused, intensive support when we see real opportunities to transform lives.

As an independent charitable foundation, we’re willing to take risks. We combine the ability to act swiftly with long-term ambition.

That’s how we make life better.

1. Advancing ideas

Better health needs great new ideas. The richest sources of these ideas are the people who dedicate themselves to discovery, creativity and innovation. We are always open to proposals and ready to respond to the best.

Supporting ideas has always been central to our approach, and it will always account for the majority of our funding. We also stimulate ideas and pursue many of our own.

The research we support continues to address fundamental health challenges of our time, across discovery science, medical innovation, and the humanities and social sciences.

We give grants to people and teams, and for places and resources, as well as providing seed funding, through our recently updated set of funding schemes.

We support researchers at the start of a career and at every stage that follows, as well as creative people, teachers and others who put health and science at the heart of everyday conversation.

We develop leaders and advocate policy change. And we can adapt our support quickly and flexibly, to meet fresh needs at times of unexpected opportunity or challenge.

2. Seizing opportunities

We’ve long supported people with great ideas, and we always will. Beyond that, we identify times when our concerted intervention can accelerate progress towards better health.

We do this by providing focused, intensive support that creates a step change over five to ten years.

Sometimes, we see potential in connecting people we support. At other times, we will stimulate a new field of endeavour, or invest in new technology that drives discovery.

In each case, we identify a critical need and set ambitious goals. We connect experts from different research disciplines, build partnerships, and lead advocacy, policy development, communications and public engagement.

The challenges we choose to pursue are often tough and complex. Not every effort will succeed. But those that do will transform lives.

We’ve already identified one priority area, to support research that connects environment and health: our planet, our health. Other areas are in development.

3. Driving reform

We have learned so much from the people and organisations we work with around the world. This helps us to recognise practices that enable ideas to reach their full potential – and barriers that stand in their way.

Our record in areas like open access to research results, public engagement, and research careers has earned us the credibility to challenge ways of working, and to propose better alternatives.

We will promote change – leading by example, convening alliances, and campaigning for wider reform. We can move quickly to address an urgent challenge, or think long to build lasting agreement.

We’ve already identified one priority area: improving science education. Other areas are in development.

See it all come together in this short animation

Introducing the Wellcome Trust’s philosophy and strategic approach

Get involved

We hope you’re as excited as we are about our approach. If you’d like to work with us, we’d be glad to hear from you.