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 that aim to make health research more open. 

These awards are open to individuals or teams of up to six members. 

Applicants can be from anywhere in the world, although the lead applicant cannot be based in mainland China.

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 new tools, resources or ways of working that enable research outputs to be discovered, accessed and re-used 
  • evaluate the impact, benefits and risks of your work.

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

We particularly welcome proposals that do one or more of the following: 

  • incentivise researchers to practise open research, for example by developing new metrics to assess impact, or by improving how good practice is recognised, embedded and rewarded
  • transform the way researchers publish, for example by developing open source tools that increase the use of pre-prints, or by testing new ways to support open peer review or to report null or negative findings
  • improve how research outputs are made findable, accessible, interoperable, re-usable (FAIR) and reproducible, for example by pioneering approaches to enrich and standardise metadata or to assess the reproducibility of findings 
  • develop open platforms or tools, for example to combine or repurpose datasets and other research outputs from different locations and disciplines, to crowdsource ideas, or to mine vast quantities of research data and content.

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.

Previous project proposals

Read the project proposals submitted since 2018, including explanations from Wellcome staff about why they were successful or unsuccessful.

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.

  • 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've changed our overheads policy for grant applications submitted from 1 October 2019. Read our updated policy and the 'How to ask for these costs' section below.

    How to ask for these costs

    This process applies if you’re now eligible to ask for overhead costs.

    In your application you must:

    • give a full breakdown of costs (you can't ask for a percentage of the research costs)
    • explain why these costs are necessary for your research
    • include a letter from the finance director of your host organisation, confirming that the breakdown is a true representation of the costs incurred.

    Our previous policy

    This information applies to grant applications submitted up to 30 September 2019.

    We cover research management and support costs if:

    • your host organisation is in a low- or middle-income country and your grant will be directly awarded to that organisation,


    • part of your grant will be sub-contracted to an organisation in a low- or middle-income country.

    We don't cover these costs if your host organisation will include the sub-contracted funding in its annual report to the UK Charity Research Support Fund.

    They can include:

    • training costs, eg transferable skills and personal development training for you and any other people employed on your grant
    • costs for short-term professional training for administrative, technical and support staff
    • administration, eg grant management, technical and administrative services
    • other costs which are necessary for your research, eg computing and internet access costs, access to electronic resources, facility and running costs such as utilities, furniture, waste disposal and incineration, and building maintenance.

    The total research management and support costs should not be more than 20% of the direct research costs you're requesting.

    See a list of low- and middle-income countries.

  • 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. 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, for example, colour or page charges
  • maintenance and support for ongoing running costs of an existing database, software tool or other resource.

We don't fund overheads unless they're included on this page (for example research management and support costs).

Stages of application

  1. Submit your concept note

    Complete a Concept note for the Open Research Fund [DOCX 80KB] and email it to by 17 June 2019, 23:59 BST.

    We only accept a maximum of two concept notes for each applicant.

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

    We'll assess your eligibility and suitability and give you a decision within four weeks of the concept note deadline. If your concept note is successful, we'll invite you to submit a full application.

  2. Submit your invited full application

    You must submit your full application through Grant Tracker.

  3. Review

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

  4. 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'll publish on our website the following details from your concept note (with your permission) and your invited full application:

  • project title
  • your name
  • details of proposal.

Once all decisions have been communicated to applicants, we'll 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 and the Learned Society Curation Awards.

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.

  • Call opens

    7 May 2019

  • Application deadline for concept notes

    17 June 2019, 23:59 BST

  • Successful applicants invited to submit full applications

    By 17 July 2019

  • Full application deadline

    3 September 2019, 17:00 BST

  • Announcement of successful applicants

    October 2019

Key dates

We make decisions on applications once a year.

  • Call opens

    7 May 2019

  • Application deadline for concept notes

    17 June 2019, 23:59 BST

  • Successful applicants invited to submit full applications

    By 17 July 2019

  • Full application deadline

    3 September 2019, 17:00 BST

  • Announcement of successful applicants

    October 2019

Grants awarded

Find out about some of the people and projects we've funded for this scheme.

Contact us

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

Previous project proposals

Read the project proposals submitted since 2018, including explanations from Wellcome staff about why they were successful or unsuccessful.