Seed Awards in Science

Seed Awards help researchers develop novel ideas that will go on to form part of larger grant applications to Wellcome or elsewhere.

Scheme at a glance

Career stage:

Postdoctoral research, Leading a research programme, Returning to research

Where your host organisation is based:

UK, Republic of Ireland, Low- or middle-income countries (apart from India)

Type of researcher:

Basic, Clinical, Public health

Level of funding:

Up to £100,000

Duration of funding:

Up to 2 years

Who can apply

You can apply for a Seed Award if you're a researcher who wants to develop a novel idea that will go on to form part of a larger grant application to Wellcome or elsewhere.

To be eligible, you must have a PhD or an equivalent higher degree.

You must be based at an eligible host organisation in the UK, Republic of Ireland or a low- or middle-income country (apart from India). However, you can't usually apply if you have access to support from a core-funded research organisation (see 'Who can't apply' below for more details).  

For the duration of the award, you must have:

  • an academic or research post and receive your salary from your host organisation rather than from another research grant

or 

  • a personal award or fellowship that provides your salary with no or only minimal research expenses.

You must not currently receive funding at a similar level to a Seed Award in Science, or have held equivalent funding in the 12 months before the closing date for this award. 

Read Scenarios of eligible and ineligible Seed Awards in Science applicants [PDF 327KB].

You must have enough time to commit to the award.

We particularly encourage researchers: 

  • at the start of their independent careers
  • who want to develop ideas that are outside their discipline or area of expertise
  • who propose interdisciplinary research across our funding in science and population health research, humanities and social science, and product development and applied research funding.

You can have collaborators, but you can't submit a joint application with another person.

Find out about the people who've been awarded Seed Awards.

 

Research proposal

Your research proposal must be within our scientific remit.

These awards give researchers the opportunity to use innovative methodologies and carry out a broad range of activities, such as:

  • pilot and scoping studies
  • preliminary data gathering
  • proof-of-principle studies
  • planning sessions
  • collaborative network meetings. 

We will review:

  • your track record as a researcher, relative to your career stage, and your potential to lead a research programme in the future
  • the novelty and importance of your research idea to your field, and your approach to developing it
  • your expected research outcomes, and how they will lead to a larger grant in the future 
  • the feasibility of your proposal
  • the suitability of your research environment.
     

Who can't apply

Seed Awards in Science are not for:

  • discrete projects with no follow-on plans
  • bridge funding or short-term fellowships.

You can't apply if:

  • you've held a Seed Award in Science in the past
  • you've held a Sir Henry Wellcome Fellowship in the last 12 months
  • your salary comes from Wellcome funding (eg Institutional Strategic Support Fund)
  • you're employed as a postdoctoral researcher on another grant.

You can't usually apply if you have access to support from a core-funded research organisation listed below. If you're based at one of these organisations, contact us to discuss your eligibility. 

    • Wellcome Trust

      • Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute
      • Wellcome Centres
      • Africa and Asia Programmes

      The Francis Crick Institute

      Medical Research Council (MRC)

      • MRC centres
      • MRC institutes
      • MRC units
      • MRC university units
      • CRUK/MRC Oxford Institute for Radiation Oncology
      • MRC Mary Lyon Centre
      • Research Complex at Harwell 
      • Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research & Policy

      Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) institutes 

      Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) institutes

      Science and Technology Facilities Council

      • STFC facilities
      • Diamond Light Source

      Cancer Research UK (CRUK)

      • UK Beatson Institute (not including Beatson Institute Associates at University of Glasgow)
      • Cambridge Institute
      • Manchester Institute
      • CRUK Centres 

      Government-funded institutes

      • European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) / European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL)
      • James Hutton Institute
      • Porton Down
      • NIHR Biomedical Research Centres 
      • National Physical Laboratory (NPL)

      British Heart Foundation

      • BHF Centres of Research Excellence
      • Centres of Regenerative Medicine

    Other schemes

    Seed Awards in Humanities and Social Science

    Helping researchers develop compelling and innovative ideas that will go on to form part of larger grant applications to Wellcome or elsewhere. The current funding round is on the theme of artificial intelligence.
    Full details of Seed Awards in Humanities and Social Science

    Springboard Awards

    Providing small grants to support basic biomedical scientists as they develop their independent research careers. The scheme is a collaboration between the Academy of Medical Sciences (AMS) and the Wellcome Trust.
    Full details of Springboard Awards
    Scheme finder

    A Seed Award in Science is worth up to £100,000 for a duration of up to two years. The support includes:

        • We will cover the salary costs of all staff, full or part time, who will work on your project. Staff members typically include research assistants or technicians employed on your grant. If you’re doing fieldwork or clinical studies in a low- or middle-income country, we’ll consider requests for more research staff.

          We don’t usually provide a salary for the lead applicant for this scheme.

          We don't provide studentship stipends.

          • Staff salaries should be appropriate to skills, responsibilities and expertise. You should ask your host organisation to use their salary scales to calculate these costs, which should include:

            • basic salary
            • employer’s contributions, including any statutory obligations (eg National Insurance contributions if you’re based in the UK) and pension scheme costs
            • Apprentice Levy charges for UK-based salaries
            • any incremental progression up the salary scale
            • locally recognised allowances such as London allowance.

            You should allow for salary pay awards during Year 1. These should be based on pay awards already agreed: if you don’t know what the pay award is yet then use our inflation rate.

            From Year 2 onwards, you should use your organisation’s current pay rates. We’ll provide a separate inflation allowance for salary inflation costs.

            Find out more about the different staff categories and employing staff.

            We may make a contribution towards the salary of departmental technicians funded by the Research England and its equivalents in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. You will need to provide a full audit record of their time on your project.

        • Visa, work permit and settled status costs

          If you have named researchers on your grant whose salaries will be funded by Wellcome, you can ask for visa or work permit costs to help them take up their posts at the host organisation. You can also ask for:

          • visa costs for the researcher’s partner and dependent children
          • essential associated costs, such as travel to attend appointments at a visa application centre or embassy if you can justify these
          • Immigration Health Surcharge costs for the researcher, their partner and dependent children if they will be in the UK for six months or more.

          You can also ask for settled status costs if the named researchers:

          • are European Union citizens living in the UK
          • meet the requirements for settled status set by the UK government.

          You can also include these costs for the researcher’s partner and dependants.

      • We will pay for the materials and consumables you need to carry out your proposed research, including:

        • laboratory chemicals and materials (eg reagents, isotopes, peptides, enzymes, antibodies, gases, proteins, cell/tissue/bacterial culture, plasticware and glassware)
        • associated charges for shipping, delivery and freight.
      • You can ask for funds to buy animals if they are essential to your project. We will also fund the charge-out rates for animal house facilities if your organisation uses full economic costing methodology. These costs include:

        • running costs (including animal maintenance, any experimental procedures, licences and relevant staff training)
        • appropriate estates costs
        • cage and equipment depreciation costs, but not building depreciation costs.

        We may not pay the full charge-out rate for an animal house facility if we've provided significant funding towards the infrastructure and/or core support of the facility.

        If your organisation doesn’t use full economic costing methodology to establish charge-out rates for animal house facilities, you can ask for funds to cover:

        • the cost of buying animals
        • running costs (including animal maintenance, any experimental procedures, licences and relevant staff training)
        • staff costs, eg contributions towards the salaries of animal house technicians.

        We won’t provide estates or depreciation costs.

      • Equipment purchase

        You can ask for smaller items of equipment that are essential to your proposed research project. Costs may include purchase, delivery, installation, maintenance and training, where necessary.

        If you want to request larger items, please contact us before applying.

        We will cover VAT and import duties if:

        • the usual UK exemptions on equipment used for medical research don’t apply
        • you’re applying from a non-UK organisation, and you can show these costs can’t be recovered.

        Equipment maintenance

        We will cover maintenance costs for equipment if:

        • you are requesting it in your application
        • it is existing equipment that is:
          • funded by us or another source
          • essential to the proposed research project
          • more than five years old
          • cost effective to keep maintaining it.

        We won’t cover maintenance costs for equipment if there is a mechanism in place to recoup these costs through access charges.

        Computer equipment

        We will cover the cost of one personal computer or laptop per person up to £1,500.

        We won't pay for:

        • more expensive items, unless you can justify them
        • installation or training costs.
      • You can ask for the cost of access to shared equipment or facilities if they’re essential to your research project. These may include materials and consumables, plus a proportion of:

        • maintenance and service contracts
        • staff time costs for dedicated technical staff employed to operate the equipment or facility.

        We don’t cover the costs of:

        • estates and utilities
        • depreciation or insurance
        • other staff eg contributions towards departmental technical, administrative and management staff time.

        If the facilities or equipment were paid for by a Wellcome grant, you can only ask for access charges if:

        • the grant has ended
        • any support for running costs and maintenance contracts has ended.
      • 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,

        or

        • 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.

        How to apply for these costs

        You must

        • give a full breakdown of costs in your grant application form (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 with your application, confirming that the breakdown is a true representation of the costs incurred.
        • Travel costs

          You should use the most suitable and economical form of travel. Please include a breakdown for each part of your trip, eg air fares and number of journeys.

          Conference attendance

          You can ask for a contribution towards the costs of attending scientific and academic meetings and conferences, including registration fees. The limits are:

          • Lead applicant – £2,000 a year
          • Research staff employed on your grant – £1,000 each a year

          You’ll need to specify the amount you’re requesting for each person.

          Collaborative travel

          You can ask for travel and subsistence costs for collaborative visits for you and any research staff employed on your grant. You’ll need to justify each visit and its duration.

          Other travel

          We will pay for other essential visits, eg to facilities, for sample collection and for fieldwork. You can include subsistence costs.

          Subsistence costs

          If you’re away for up to one month you can ask for subsistence costs. These include accommodation, meals and incidentals (eg refreshments or newspapers).

          If your administering organisation has a subsistence policy, use their rates.

          If your administering organisation doesn’t have a subsistence policy, please use the HMRC rates.

          If you’re away for more than one month and up to 12 months, we will pay reasonable rental costs only, including aparthotels. You should discuss appropriate rates with your administering and host organisations, or Wellcome, as appropriate. We expect you to choose the most economical options, booked in advance where possible.

          If you’re from a low- or middle- income country and will be working in a high-income country for more than one month and up to 12 months, you can also ask for up to £20 a day to cover extra costs, such as transport and incidentals.

          If you’re away for more than 12 months, we will pay the costs of your housing. You should discuss your needs with your administering and host organisations.

          The allowance we provide will be based on family and business need. We will set the maximum allowance we pay for each location. This will be based on current market data or, where data is unavailable, in consultation with your administering organisation, using equivalent market rates. Please contact us if you need help calculating the costs.

          We will cover the direct expenses you have to pay to find and rent a home. We will not cover the cost of utilities or any refurbishment.

          Overseas research

          If you or any research staff employed on your grant will be doing research away from your home laboratory, we'll help with the additional costs of working on the project overseas. Please see the 'Overseas allowances' section for details.

        • If you or any staff employed on your grant will be spending time in another country, we’ll help you with the additional costs of working on the project overseas.

          Our overseas allowances are:

          • a contribution towards the personal cost of carrying out research overseas, to ensure that you are not disadvantaged
          • provided on the assumption that you’ll be paying income tax, either in your home country, or the country you will be working in (your personal tax is your responsibility).
          • provided on the understanding that you or your partner will not receive equivalent allowances from elsewhere
          • determined by the amount of time you will spend away from your home country.
        • If you will be away more than 12 months, we will provide overseas allowances for your partner and any dependants if they are travelling with you.

          If you will be away for 12 months or less and can justify why your partner and dependants must travel with you, we may provide overseas allowances for them.

          We define your partner as the person:

          • you’re married to
          • you’re not married to but with whom you’ve been in a relationship for at least a year

          and

          • you live with at the same permanent address and share some form of joint financial commitment with (eg a mortgage).
        •  

          See a list of low- and middle-income countries, as defined by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

          You can ask for the following allowances. You need to provide estimated costs as accurately as possible.

            • We will pay your travel costs at the beginning and end of your overseas work. Costs can be for air, ferry, train or coach fares.

              All fares should be:

              • economy class
              • the most suitable and economical form of travel
              • booked in advance where possible.
            • If you are away for up to 12 months, you can ask for up to 80kg of additional baggage or unaccompanied airline freight for your outward and return journeys.

              If you are away for more than 12 months, you can ask for the costs of shipping your personal items at the beginning and end of your overseas work.

              We will pay the full cost of transporting:

              • half a standard shipping container if you’re travelling alone
              • a whole standard shipping container (20ft) if you’re travelling with a partner and/or dependants.
            • We will pay the cost of your medical insurance and travel insurance.

              If you will be working in a low- or middle-income country we will also cover the cost of emergency evacuation cover.

              We won’t pay for medical insurance if you will be based in the UK or Republic of Ireland.

            • We will pay the costs of visas, vaccinations and anti-malaria treatment.

            • You can ask for this if you’ll be based in a low- or middle-income country and it is necessary.

              Costs can include guards, panic buttons and alarms. You should ask your employing organisation for advice on the level of security you need.

            • If you’re away for up to one month you can ask for subsistence costs. These include accommodation, meals and incidentals (eg refreshments or newspapers).

              If your administering organisation has a subsistence policy, use their rates.

              If your administering organisation doesn’t have a subsistence policy, please use the HMRC rates.

              If you’re away for more than one month and up to 12 months, we will pay reasonable rental costs only, including aparthotels. You should discuss appropriate rates with your administering and host organisations, or Wellcome, as appropriate. We expect you to choose the most economical options, booked in advance where possible.

              If you’re from a low- or middle- income country and will be working in a high-income country for more than one month and up to 12 months, you can also ask for up to £20 a day to cover extra costs, such as transport and incidentals.

              If you’re away for more than 12 months, we will pay the costs of your housing. You should discuss your needs with your administering and host organisations.

              The allowance we provide will be based on family and business need. We will set the maximum allowance we pay for each location. This will be based on current market data or, where data is unavailable, in consultation with your administering organisation, using equivalent market rates. If you need help calculating the costs please contact Grants Management.

              We will cover the direct expenses you have to pay to find and rent a home. We will not cover the cost of utilities or any refurbishment.

            • If you’re away for more than 12 months we will pay:

              Local nursery or school fees

              You can ask for these costs if you are in a location where there isn’t free local education of the same standard as in your home country.

              Costs include:

              • local nursery school fees up to a maximum of 15 hours a week for 3 to 4 year olds
              • local junior or secondary school fees, up to the end of secondary school education.

              Local international school fees

              You can ask for these costs if local schools do not provide the same standard of education as in your home country. We will only pay the published termly school fees.

              We will not cover the costs of:

              • extracurricular activities, including field trips
              • other extras including, but not limited to, uniforms, sports kit and equipment, transport, meals, books and electronic equipment.

              Boarding school fees

              We will consider paying the cost of boarding school fees in your home country if:

              • a local international school is not available
              • both parents, guardians or the sole care giver live outside the home country.

              The allowance covers:

              • up to a maximum of £30,000 a year for each child for the published termly fees only
              • the cost of economy class return airfares at the start and end of each school term.

              We will not cover the costs of:

              • additional annual leave airfares
              • extracurricular activities, including field trips
              • other extras including, but not limited to, uniforms, sports kit and equipment, transport, meals, books and electronic equipment.

              We will cover the cost of providing special needs education as far as possible. Please contact us to discuss your needs.

              We would not usually expect to provide an education allowance if you will be working in a high-income country.

            • If you will be away for more than 12 months, we’ll pay for you to travel back to your home country for annual leave. This is in addition to your outward and return travel costs and depends on how long you will be away:

              • 12-24 months – 1 annual leave trip
              • 25-36 months – 2 annual leave trips
              • 37-48 months – 3 annual leave trips
              • 49-60 months – 4 annual leave trips
              • 61-72 months – 5 annual leave trips.

              All fares should be:

              • economy class
              • the most suitable and economical form of travel
              • booked in advance where possible.
            • If you will be away for more than 12 months, you can ask for up to 100 hours of lessons in the local language for you and/or your partner during the first 12 months of your visit.

              We will cover 100% of the costs for local language school classes or up to 50% of the costs of individual tuition.

              We will not cover the cost of examinations or personal learning materials such as DVDs and books.

      • We cover fieldwork costs if they’re essential and you can justify them. Costs can include:

        • survey and data collection, including communication and data collection services and any associated costs such as essential field materials, travel costs and language translation services
        • the purchase, hire and running costs of vehicles dedicated to your project
        • expenses for subjects and volunteers, including the recruitment of participants, their participatory fees and travel costs
        • statistical analysis.

        You can ask for other fieldwork costs that aren’t listed here, but you’ll need to justify them.

      • You can ask for costs for page charges and/or costs for colour prints for your original research papers.

        You can also ask for the costs of publishing other material which is essential to the project, such as:

        • the proceedings of a workshop or conference we’ve funded
        • questionnaires, recruitment material, newsletters etc for clinical, epidemiological and qualitative research studies
        • the results of a clinical trial or epidemiological study
        • public engagement materials where dissemination (including printing and publishing) is a key activity of the project.

        Open access charges

        You can't ask for open access article processing charges in your application.

        If your organisation receives block funding through the UK’s Charity Open Access Fund you can ask it to cover these costs. If not, we’ll supplement your grant when your paper has been accepted for publication.

      • If you need to carry out clinical trials or research using NHS patients or facilities, we will cover some of the research costs.

        Annex A of the guidelines for attributing the costs of health and social care research and development (AcoRD) sets out the costs we cover, and which costs should be funded through the Department of Health in England, or its equivalent in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. If you're based in the Republic of Ireland, we would expect you to adhere to the spirit of these principles.

        Further information on our clinical trials policy.

      • Costs you may ask for (you will have to justify these costs in your application):

        • specialist publications that are relevant to the research and not available in institutional libraries
        • consultancy fees
        • expenses for subjects and volunteers – includes recruitment of participants, their participatory fees and travel, as well as interviewee expenses
        • reasonable research-associated costs related to the feedback of health-related findings but not any healthcare-associated costs
        • costs associated with developing an outputs management plan
        • recruitment, advertising and interviewee travel costs for staff to be employed on the grant
        • purchase, hire and running costs of project-dedicated vehicles.

        Costs we won’t pay:

        • estates costs – such as building and premises costs, basic services and utilities. This also includes phone, postage, photocopying and stationery, unless you can justify these within a clinical or epidemiological study.*
        • research, technical and administrative staff whose time is shared across several projects and isn’t supported by an audit record*
        • PhD stipends
        • charge-out costs for major facilities* – departmental technical and administrative services, and use of existing equipment
        • cleaning, waste and other disposal costs*

        *We will fund these costs in the case of animal-related research.

        • indirect costs – this includes general administration costs such as personnel, finance, library, room hire and some departmental services
        • office furniture, such as chairs, desks, filing cabinets, etc.
        • clothing such as lab coats, shoes, gloves, protective clothing
        • non-research related activities, eg catering, room and venue hire for staff parties, team-building events and social activities
        • indemnity insurance (insurance cover against claims made by subjects or patients associated with a research programme)
        • ethics reviews, unless you are in a low- or middle-income country
        • radiation protection costs.

        Costs guidance [XLSX 18KB] on the types of costs that can/cannot be charged on biomedical science research grants.

    What we don’t offer

    Seed Awards in Science cannot be used to pay your personal salary costs.

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

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

    Start your application

    Stages of application

    1. Before you apply

      We encourage you to check that your application is eligible and competitive by discussing your project with your:

      • mentors 
      • head of department (or equivalent) 
      • research office.
    2. Submit your full application

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

      View the Sample full application form for Seed Awards in Science [PDF 236KB]

    3. Scientific review and shortlisting

      Wellcome staff and the Seeds Advisory Panel will assess the applications.

    4. Decision

      We aim to give you a decision within nine weeks of the application deadline. There are no interviews. In general, we don’t provide specific written feedback to unsuccessful applicants.

    Disabled applicants

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

    Dates

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

    October 2018 round

    • Application deadline

      2 October 2018, 17:00 BST

    • Decision

      December 2018

    March 2019 round

    • Application deadline

      March 11 2019, 17:00 GMT

    • Decision

      May 2019

    More information

    Find out about how we've worked with the funding community to develop principles and obligations setting out what we expect from those responsible for clinical training, trainees and funders across the UK.

    Definitions

    Postdoctoral research

    For researchers with a PhD or equivalent.

    Leading a research programme

    For researchers with a PhD or the equivalent, and significant postdoctoral research experience.

    Returning to research

    For people who want to return to a research career after a break of two years or more.

    UK
    Republic of Ireland
    Low- or middle-income countries (apart from India)

    See a list of low- and middle-income countries, as defined by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

    Basic

    You're not a clinically qualified researcher.

    Clinical

    You're a clinically qualified doctor, vet, dentist or a clinical psychologist.

    Public health

    Develop your research career

    See our other schemes for researchers who are interested in postdoctoral research or leading a research programme.

    Key dates

    We consider applications three times a year.

    October 2018 round

    • Application deadline

      2 October 2018, 17:00 BST

    • Decision

      December 2018

    March 2019 round

    • Application deadline

      March 11 2019, 17:00 GMT

    • Decision

      May 2019

    Contact us

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

    If you have a question about the scope and content of your proposal, contact the relevant person in our Science team.

    People we've funded

    Researcher stories

    Read about the career journeys of some of our researchers.

    Albert's story: a search for the ideal research environment

    Albert always knew the type of research he wanted to do. But to find the right research environment he had to move from industry to academia, and to a new country.