Seed Awards in Science

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

Scheme at a glance

Career stage:

Early, Intermediate, Returning to research

Where your host organisation is based:

UK, Republic of Ireland, Low- and middle-income countries

Type of researcher:

Basic, Clinical, Public health

Level of funding:

Up to £100,000

Duration of funding:

Up to 2 years

Contact us

About your eligibility, the application process, funding policies or general queries about grants:

About the scope and content of your proposal only:

About our online application system:

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Getting here

Key dates

We consider applications three times a year.

October 2016 round

  • Application deadline

    3 October 2016

  • Decision

    November 2016

March 2017 round

  • Application deadline

    13 March 2017

  • Decision

    May 2017

People we've funded

Michelle Ma

This scheme was attractive because it supports brand new ideas, without the expectation that there has to be large amounts of prior data.

Michelle Ma

More case studiesList of grantholders

Eligibility and suitability

Who can apply

To apply for a Seed Award in Science, you must:

  • have completed a PhD or an equivalent higher degree
  • be based at a host organisation in the UK Republic of Ireland or an eligible low- or middle-income country
  • receive personal salary support from your host organisation, or have a personal award or fellowship that provides a salary but no research expenses, for the duration of the Seed Award in Science
  • have a research project that is within our scientific remit.

Go to the World Bank website to see a list of low- and middle-income countries.

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 already have funding at a similar level to a Seed Award in Science (or you’ve had it in the 12 months before the closing date for this award)

  • you’ve held a Seed Award in Science in the past
  • your salary comes from Wellcome Trust funding (eg Institutional Strategic Support Fund).

If you’ve already made two unsuccessful applications for this award, you usually can’t submit another application for 12 months.

If you’re based at a core-funded research organisation, you can’t usually apply. Please contact us to discuss your eligibility.

    What we're looking for

    Seed Awards in Science help researchers develop new ideas to make them competitive for larger awards (from us or other organisations). We particularly encourage researchers:

    • at the start of their independent careers
    • who want to develop ideas outside their discipline or area of expertise.

    These awards give scope for innovative methodologies and activities, such as:

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

    We encourage applications for interdisciplinary research across our Science, Humanities and Social Science, and Innovations funding.

    Other schemes

    Seed Awards in Humanities and Social Science

    Helping researchers develop compelling and innovative ideas that may go on to form part of larger grant applications.
    Full details of Seed Awards in Humanities and Social Science

    Pathfinder Awards

    Funding pilot projects that address an unmet medical need or offer a new solution to a problem.
    Full details of Pathfinder Awards

    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

    What we offer

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

    • research expenses, including research assistance
      • staff

        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.

        How to cost salaries for research staff

        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
        • 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. For Year 1 include any known pay awards for this period or an assumed percentage equivalent to our current inflation rate of 1.6% if this hasn’t been confirmed.

        From Year 2 onwards, we’ll automatically increase the salaries, based on our current inflation allowance rates.

        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 Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) 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 and work permit costs

        If you have named researchers on your grant whose salaries will be funded by Wellcome, you can ask for visa 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. You’ll need to justify this. 
      • materials and consumables

        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.
      • animals

        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, but only 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

        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 equipment we have already funded and the original award used to purchase the equipment has ended
        • it is equipment we have already funded, it is over five years old, and it’s cost effective to keep maintaining it
        • it is equipment funded by another source and you are applying from an organisation in a low- or middle-income country.

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

      • access charges

        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 Trust grant, you can only ask for access charges if:

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

        We cover research management and support costs if:

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

        These costs may 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.

        Go to the World Bank website to 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
        • explain why these costs are necessary to your research
        • include a letter from the finance director of your host organisation with your application, confirming that the costs are a true representation of the costs incurred.
      • travel and subsistence

        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
        • Applicants who are asking for a salary on the grant –  £2,000 a year
        • 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 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. 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.

        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.

      • overseas allowances

        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.
        Partners and dependants travelling with you

        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).

         

        Low- and middle-income countries are defined by the World Bank as:

        • low-income
        • lower-middle-income
        • upper-middle-income.

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

        • outward and return travel

          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.
        • baggage and freight shipping allowance

          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.
        • medical and travel insurance

          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.

        • visas and vaccinations

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

        • housing security

          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.

        • accommodation and subsistence

          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.

        • education

          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.

        • annual leave travel costs

          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.
        • language lessons

          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.

      • fieldwork expenses

        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.

      • inflation allowance

        We will add an inflation allowance to your award.

        How we calculate your inflation allowance

        Your inflation allowance is based on your total eligible costs and the duration of the award. If the costs in your application are in pounds sterling, euros or US dollars, you’ll receive the following allowance:

        Award duration         Inflation allowance
          (in months)                  
               0-12                           0.0%
             13-24                           0.8%
             25-36                           1.6%  
             37-48                           2.4%
             49-60                           3.3%
             61-72                           4.1%
             73-84                           4.9%   

        These rates are calculated using compound inflation at 1.6% a year from Year 2 onwards.

        If your costs are in any other currency, we will use an inflation allowance that reflects the inflation rate of the country where the host organisation is based.

        What to include in your application

        The costs in your application must be based on current known costs, excluding inflation.

        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.

        The Trust’s studentship stipend scales for non-clinical/basic science PhD studentships include an annual increase for inflation.

      • publication costs

        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

        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.

        We don’t cover open access article processing charges.

      • clinical research costs

        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, Wales and the Republic of Ireland.

        Further information on funding for clinical trials.

      • other costs

        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 delivering data management and sharing plans
        • 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*
        • 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 [PDF 26KB] 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 on a proportion of full economic costs in UK universities.

    How to apply

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

    Start your application

    Stages of application

    1. 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 1.5MB].

    2. Scientific review and shortlisting

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

    3. Decision

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

    Dates

    We consider applications three times a year. We don’t accept late applications.

    October 2016 round

    • Application deadline

      3 October 2016

    • Decision

      November 2016

    March 2017 round

    • Application deadline

      13 March 2017

    • Decision

      May 2017

    Definitions

    Early

    You’re starting your career in postdoctoral research.

    Intermediate

    You’re consolidating your research career. You lead on research projects and are establishing a research team.

    Returning to research

    You’re returning to a research career after a break of two years or more.

    UK
    Republic of Ireland
    Low- and middle-income countries

    Low-income, lower-middle-income and upper-middle-income countries, as defined by the World Bank

    Basic

    You're not a clinically qualified researcher.

    Clinical

    You're a clinically qualified researcher.

    Public health