Public Engagement Fund

This fund enables individuals and organisations to use creative approaches in engaging the public with health research.

This scheme was closed on 9 July. Find out more.

Scheme at a glance

This scheme is now closed

Where your project will take place:

  • UK,
  • Republic of Ireland,
  • Low- and middle-income countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and East Asia and Pacific

Level of funding:

£25,000 to £3 million

Duration of funding:

Up to 3 years

Who can apply

The Public Engagement Fund is open to individuals and organisations (commercial and not-for-profit). Your project must focus on health, although this doesn’t need to be your organisation’s main focus or core activity.  

You can be working in the arts, culture, entertainment media, heritage, leisure, education, research, informal learning, social enterprise, non-profit and community sectors, or other fields. 

What we’re looking for

We’re looking for creative approaches to engage the public. Your project needs to support our public engagement goals, so it should do at least one of the following:

  • empower people by helping them to access, use, respond to, and/or participate in health research and innovation
  • improve health research by making it more people-centred, to better understand people’s experiences and draw on that knowledge 
  • help people to value and think critically about science, health research, innovation and the role these play in society.

To be successful, your project must also do one of the following:

  • We’d like to understand how you think your proposed project is innovative, and the context in which it’s new.

  • develop an existing activity where you have evidence that it has been successful, either by exploring ways to make it sustainable or by scaling it up in a cost-effective manner
  • learn from a successful engagement activity delivered by you or others, and replicate it with a new audience, eg a different demographic or location.

We’re especially interested in work which promotes diversity and inclusion, and engages people and communities who are affected by social and economic disadvantage. This work can sit within a wider project or be its main focus. If your project addresses these issues, tell us how it does this, based on your experience and the context you are working in.

If your project takes place in a low- or middle-income country, we particularly want to see how it will strengthen the public engagement skills of the people and organisations involved in developing the project in that country. 

Your proposal

In your proposal, you must include:

  • the main outcomes you want to achieve during the project, the outputs (activities) you’ll undertake, and any longer-term impacts you hope your project will have
  • the people you want to reach, and why you want to work with them 
  • previous activities, knowledge or learning that your proposal will build on 
  • an outline plan of how you will deliver the project
  • how you’ll track if your project has been successful in achieving its outcomes 
  • how you’ll share what you’ve learned.

For more information, read Public Engagement Fund: what good proposals look like [PDF 371KB]

Your project team

Your team should have the right expertise and skill sets to develop and deliver your proposed project.

This should include at least one subject expert, such as a researcher in a science or health-related discipline, and/or a health professional. The expert can lead the project, be a collaborator or take on an advisory role.

Where the project takes place

The project must take place in one or more of the following places:

  • the UK
  • the Republic of Ireland
  • Sub-Saharan Africa 

    Burkina Faso
    Cabo Verde
    Central African Republic
    Democratic Republic of Congo 
    Côte d'Ivoire
    Equatorial Guinea
    São Tomé and Príncipe
    Sierra Leone
    South Africa
    South Sudan

    South Asia

    Sri Lanka

    East Asia and Pacific 

    Democratic People's Republic of Korea
    Lao People's Democratic Republic
    Marshall Islands
    Papua New Guinea
    Solomon Islands

Financial support from other funders

You don’t need funding from another organisation to be eligible, but it may make your proposal more competitive. Such funding could show that your project is sustainable and/or that it is supported by stakeholders who are important to the success of the project.

Who can't apply

You can’t apply if your proposed project is about: 

  • delivering health interventions with primarily therapeutic purposes
  • running or promoting health campaigns
  • providing health information
  • telling people what to do rather than enabling them to make their own decisions
  • academic research (unless it’s integral to the project’s development, eg action research, or evaluation within the project)
  • engagement activities that are essential to carrying out a health research project/programme in an ethical way, eg consulting with community advisory panels or communicating research findings to research participants
  • improving healthcare services by involving patients.

Awards range from £25,000 to £3 million. Your project funding can last up to three years.

Most of the proposals we receive are for £25,000 to £100,000. If your proposal falls into this range then you must meet our criteria closely to be competitive, be clear about the change you want to achieve, and include a well-considered delivery plan. 

We can only support a few grants of between £100,000 and £250,000 each year, so your proposal must aim to bring about significant change. Where possible, it should be backed by evidence, such as a pilot with positive results. 

Occasionally, we make grants of over £250,000, where projects have the potential to bring about major, sustainable change. These might be capital projects, ambitious rollouts, or work that could influence the perspectives and actions of a large audience or group of participants.  

Since 2018, we no longer accept applications for grants under £25,000. 

Your costs should be justifiable and appropriate for your proposed activities.

Our support

Our support includes:

  • You can ask for staff costs if they don't already have a salary for the period of your grant. We recommend you comply with pay that is standard in your industry. 

  • fees for other people who are essential to the proposal, such as consultants and artists
  • the costs of temporary replacement staff to enable a person who already has a salary to allocate time to work on the project
  • the costs of promoting access or increasing diversity and inclusion, eg the costs for any community partners to help deliver the project
  • materials and consumables
  • equipment
  • production costs, including marketing
  • development, including building and refurbishment
  • travel and subsistence relevant to the proposal
  • evaluation and dissemination of the work
  • You can ask for up to 5% of the total amount you're requesting as contingency.

  • We cover overheads if your organisation is:

    • in a low- or middle-income country within Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, or East Asia and Pacific


    • a small charitable and not-for-profit organisation with an annual gross income of less than £1 million in the last financial year.

    These costs may include:

    • administration, eg grant management, technical and administrative services
    • other costs which are necessary for your proposal activity, 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 overhead costs should not be more than 20% of the total direct costs you're requesting.

    How to apply for these costs

    You must:

    • give a full breakdown of costs in your grant application (you can't ask for a percentage of the costs)
    • explain why these costs are necessary for your project
    • include a letter from the finance director of your host organisation with your application, confirming that:
      • your organisation had an annual gross income of less than £1 million in the last financial year
      • the breakdown of costs is a true representation of the costs incurred.
  • other costs

You can also apply for Research Enrichment funding to increase the impact of your work through activities in open research and diversity and inclusion.

What we don’t offer

We don't fund: 

  • costs incurred before your proposed activity starts
  • salary costs for staff who are already funded by their organisation
  • academic courses such as Master's degrees or PhDs, and other tuition fees.

We don't fund overheads unless they're included on this page.

Stages of application

Depending on the amount you’re asking for, there are two ways to apply. 

Proposals for grants of £25,000 to £250,000

  1. Before you apply

    We're not able to answer questions about the scope and content of proposals, so we encourage you to read the following guidance and information:

    You can also watch our Facebook Q&A recordings:

  2. Submit your application

    You must submit your application through the Wellcome Trust Grant Tracker

    All the important information should be on the form. If you want to add supporting information, you should upload a single-page PDF containing web links that point to it.

  3. Review

    Wellcome staff review applications at quarterly meetings. We seek advice from external advisers when necessary.

  4. Decision

    We’ll usually give you a decision within 12 weeks of the application deadline. 

  5. Starting your project

    If your application is successful, you should allow at least one month between receiving our decision and starting your proposed project.

Proposals for grants over £250,000 and up to £3 million

To request a grant of over £250,000, email an expression of interest to This email address is only for expressions of interest. We will not answer any other queries. 

The deadline for expressions of interest is 30 April 2019.

You must use the following structure:

  • your name (and job title if relevant) as primary contact
  • the name of your organisation
  • the amount you want, over what period of time
  • why your team is the right one to deliver the project, including the expert(s) you plan to work with (in a maximum of 200 words)
  • what you want to achieve, where, and how it fits with what we’re looking for (in a maximum of 400 words).  

Read the information on this page and Public Engagement Fund: what good proposals look like [PDF 371KB] so that you’re clear about what we’re looking for.

If we’re interested in your proposed project, we will ask you to provide more information before we make a decision. 

Terms and conditions

All projects will be subject to our grant conditions and we reserve the right to ask for an additional contract.

Grants awarded for commercial media projects are always subject to contract.

We require a proportional share of any financial benefits arising from any commercial exploitation of a funded project. We will also expect certain rights and credits in return for its investment.

Disabled applicants

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


Proposals for grants of £25,000 to £250,000

March 2019 round

  • Applications deadline

    26 March 2019, 17:00 GMT

  • Decision

    By early July 2019

Proposals for grants of £25,000 to £250,000

July 2019 round

  • Applications deadline

    9 July 2019, 17:00 BST

  • Decision

    By early October 2019

More information

If your activity is taking place in a low- and middle-income country, you can network, share resources and discuss good practice on the MESH website

Grants awarded

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

Contact us

We're not able to answer questions about the scope and content of proposals, or to meet you before you apply. 

Contact us if you have a question about eligibility or the application process that isn’t answered here or in our guidance document.