Funding diverse, innovative projects remains an important way for us to achieve our strategy – but the Public Engagement Fund is no longer a good vehicle for these kind of grants. We need to be sure we are using Wellcome’s resources as efficiently as we can to achieve our mission of improving health.
Why is the Public Engagement Fund no longer working?
Under our new strategy we discover, build and invest in ambitious, longer-term public engagement programmes. This is hard to balance with advising on and judging the 1,000+ smaller, individual projects pitched to us every year from around the world.
We believe that the systemic changes we want to help the public engagement sector achieve (like being more evidence-based, human-centred and outcome-focused) need targeted investment and thoughtful partnerships, rather than an open fund.
We’re only able to fund 5% of the applications we receive. This isn’t an efficient use of time for our applicants, or for Wellcome.
We’re not reducing our commitment to funding public engagement. We’re changing how we do it.
In the autumn we’ll announce new partners who will be designing and leading funding schemes for the sector. And we’ll also be doing more work with other organisations on ambitious programmes that support our new strategy.
New ways of working
We think Wellcome can have more impact if we work with partners that are better placed than us to understand what excellence and innovation look like in different contexts.
For example, we want to:
give Wellcome researchers extra funding to work with the public – so we’ve launched three pilots where academic institutions use our money to do just that
understand how social enterprises can connect the public with research, but we aren’t experts in the social innovation sector – so we’ve partnered with Big Society Capital to help us back some entrepreneurs and find out what works
and discover what the potential could be for communities when citizens, rather than foundations, get to decide how philanthropic money is used – so we’ve partnered with Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity on a place-based research project to do just that.
We’ll also continue to lead Wellcome’s public engagement efforts. Right now we are: