Open Research Fund

This funding supports researchers to develop and test innovative ways of making health research open, accessible and reusable.

Scheme at a glance

Career stage:

  • ,
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Level of funding:

Up to £50,000

Duration of funding:

Up to one year

Who can apply

You can apply to the Open Research Fund if you want to develop, pilot and evaluate innovative approaches to making health research more open. 

These awards are open to individuals or teams of up to six members from anywhere in the world. 

You can apply if you’re based at:

  • an academic research organisation
  • a not-for-profit body
  • a private sector organisation.  

You must be able to accept our standard grant conditions.

If you're a Wellcome-funded grantholder and your proposed activities are related to your main Wellcome grant, you should apply for Research Enrichment – Open Research funding. 

Your proposal  

To be eligible, you must propose to:

  • trial innovative tools, resources or ways of working
  • evaluate the impact, benefits and risks of your work.

We welcome proposals that encourage collaboration across international borders, and between different sectors and disciplines.

We’re looking for ideas that enable data, code or other research outputs to be discovered, accessed and re-used. These ideas can be for new activities or to develop existing activities. 

Examples of activities we’ll consider include (but are not limited to): 

  • making outputs findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable (FAIR) eg implementing new approaches and standards to help researchers in the same discipline 
  • developing open platforms or tools eg for combining or repurposing datasets and other research outputs from different locations or disciplines, or for mining vast quantities of research data and content
  • improving research reproducibility eg developing tools to package data with code, assessing the reproducibility of published findings or testing new reporting standards 
  • speeding up ways to find and share data eg using open lab notebooks to share research and collaborate in real-time (or near real-time)
  • looking at the role blockchain technology could play in managing and disseminating research outputs and assigning credit
  • testing new metrics that offer transparent and fair ways to evaluate open research
  • embedding incentives that encourage researchers to adopt open research approaches during research and to share their research outputs
  • developing crowdsourcing approaches to increase participation in research eg annotating complex datasets or enabling co-design and development of research projects.

We will review: 

  • the vision for your proposed activities, including aims, target audiences and how you’ll advance open practices in your research field and beyond
  • how you’ll evaluate the outcome and impact of your proposed activities, including success and risk indicators.

Applications submitted in 2018

See a list of eligible applications to the Open Research Fund, including project proposals.

Other schemes

Research Enrichment – Open Research

Supporting Wellcome grantholders to develop innovative ways to make their research open, accessible and reusable.
Full details of Research Enrichment – Open Research
Scheme finder

You can ask for funding of up to £50,000 for up to one year.

Funds can be used for a range of costs such as:

  • You can ask for salary support to cover the time you spend on this project.

    You can ask for staff costs if:

    • they don't already have a salary for the period of your grant, and
    • they're essential to your proposal.

    Staff may include data managers or IT staff.

  • We will cover costs for you to work with or commission developers to build a new software tool or application, or further develop an existing one.

  • We will cover costs for you to purchase cloud-based storage or software licences etc.

  • activities to manage and share research data, software or materials resulting from your proposed activities
  • You can ask for costs to:

    • communicate your open research plans to potential users and collaborators
    • create training guides and resources
    • hold training workshops
    • promote uptake and use to others in your research field and the wider community.
  • You can ask for costs to conduct user-testing, focus groups etc.

  • We will pay travel costs for you to:

    • attend relevant training events and conferences
    • visit users and collaborators.

    You can also ask for costs to cover caring responsibilities if you or any staff employed on your grant attend a conference or research meeting. This includes childcare and any other caring responsibility you have, provided:

    • Wellcome is paying your salary
    • the conference is directly related to your research project
    • the caring costs are over and above what you'd normally pay for care
    • the conference organiser and your employing organisation are unable to cover the costs.

    You can ask for up to £1,000 per person for each conference.

  • contingency costs, as long as these are reasonable and you can justify them
  • VAT on fees where the VAT can't be reclaimed.

What we don’t offer

You can't use this funding for:

  • open access publication costs, or other publication costs, eg colour or page charges
  • maintenance and support for ongoing running costs of an existing database, software tool or other resource, unless this involves the development of significant new functionality to benefit open research.

We don't fund overheads.

You must submit your application through the Wellcome Trust Grant Tracker (WTGT).

Start your application

Stages of application

  1. Submit your application

    You must submit your application through Grant Tracker.

    If you’re applying as a team, one member must submit the application form on behalf of the team.

    View the Sample application form for the Open Research Fund [PDF 150KB].

  2. Review

    Wellcome and the Open Research Fund Committee will assess your application. 

  3. Decision

    We aim to give you a decision within ten weeks of the Open Research Fund application deadline. There are no interviews. 

    Where possible, feedback will be provided to unsuccessful applicants. 

Publishing your application

We want to be transparent about the decisions we’ve made. For this scheme, we make the 'Details of proposal' section for all eligible applications, both successful and unsuccessful, publicly available on our website when the deadline for applications closes. We make it clear on the application form which information we’d like to share and ask you to give your permission.

Once all decisions have been communicated to applicants, we also publish a short summary of why you have been successful or not. 

The publishing of proposals and decision summaries only applies to this scheme.

Disabled applicants

If you are disabled or have a chronic health condition, we can support you with the application process.


We consider applications once a year. You must submit your application by 17:00 (BST) on the deadline day. We don’t accept late applications.

  • Application deadline

    7 August 2018, 17:00 BST

  • Decision

    October 2018

Key dates

We make decisions on applications once a year.

  • Application deadline

    7 August 2018, 17:00 BST

  • Decision

    October 2018

Contact us

Contact our information officers if you have a question about funding.

Applications submitted in 2018

See a list of eligible applications to the Open Research Fund, including project proposals.