Grant funding data 2016-2017

This data is about our funding activities up to October 2017. It shows the number and value of awards in our grant portfolio, our grant expenditure, and application and award rates.


  • Our current grant portfolio comprises 3,436 grants worth £4.4 billion.
  • In 2016/17 we received over 4,000 applications and made 939 awards worth £1.1bn.
  • Over the past five years, application numbers have grown by 45% and our spending has grown by 57%.

Current portfolio

We fund a wide range of activity across the health research remit.

Grant funding by area of activity

Download the data [CSV 336B]

19% of our grants are for cultural and social contexts of health, and public engagement and education. The average value of these awards is lower, so they account for 5% of our total spend.

Grant funding by type

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43% of our current portfolio is for personal support grants – Investigator Awards, Fellowships and Studentships.

26% of our current portfolio supports places – including core support for the Sanger Institute and the Francis Crick Institute.

26% supports team research.

Applications and awards

In 2016/17, Wellcome received over 4,000 applications requesting £5bn in funding, and made 939 awards worth £1.1bn.

Funding amounts by area

Applications, awards and award rates over the past five years

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Application numbers have risen by 45% over the past five years. They fell in 2016/17 due to strategic funding pauses and new grant schemes in our Innovations, Public Engagement, and Humanities and Social Sciences portfolios.

Most schemes have an award rate of 20-25%. Overall, award rates have fallen over the past five years. This is largely due to low success rates for three high-volume schemes: Seed Awards in Science; Seed Awards in Humanities and Social Science; and Public Engagement grants.

Award rate data only includes applications and awards assessed in competition.

Value of awards over time

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53% of grants awarded over the past five years have been for less than £100,000.

People we fund

We currently support:

  • 461 Investigator Awards

  • 48 Principal Fellowships

  • 148 Senior Fellowships

  • 360 Intermediate Fellowships

  • 199 Early Career Fellowships

  • 802 Studentships.

Number of personal awards over time

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The numbers of Early Career and Intermediate Fellowships have risen since we introduced the Sir Henry Dale Fellowships and increased funding for the Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowships in 2014.

Average value of personal awards over time

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Gender and age profile

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At all career stages, women and men have equal success in applying for funding. Women receive fewer of our more senior personal awards in Science, and in Humanities and Social Science, because fewer women than men apply for them.

Nationality profile

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63% of our personal awards held at UK organisations are to UK nationals.

20% are to EU nationals.

13% are to other nationalities.

Places we fund

Global funding

We currently fund research activity in more than 100 countries.

  • 24% (£1,070m) of our current funding supports research outside the UK.
  • 9% (£401m) supports research in low- and middle-income countries.

Value of non-UK awards over time

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Our non-UK funding continues to increase, largely driven by major initiatives such as CEPI, CARB-X, DELTAS and H3Africa, and by increased investments in our Africa and Asia Programmes.

UK funding

31 UK organisations receive more than £10m through our current grant funding.

Our Wellcome UK grant funding table 2017 [XLSX 17KB] has high-level information on the number and value of these awards, and the award rates.

Peer review

Written peer review

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Over the past five years, the number of applications has risen but the number of written peer review requests we have made has remained stable.

This is because we have reduced the number of our schemes that require written peer review and we now shortlist most applications before this stage.

Funding and interview committees

In 2016/17 we had 387 advisory committee members:

  • their average age was 53
  • 46% were women – an increase from 23% over the past five years
  • 74% were based in the UK.

More information

This data captures the activities we support through our grants and awards. The figures differ from those in our Annual Report and Financial Statements because they:

  • include full commitment values for awards made as Programme Related Investments
  • exclude directly funded activities, including Wellcome Collection
  • exclude supplements, funds written back and other adjustments.

Full information about our funding each year is in our Annual Report and Financial Statements.

Previous years