Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Leadership of STFC related public engagement activity and culture

Apply for a fellowship in the leadership of engaging the public with STFC supported science, technology or facilities.

You must be:

  • from the academic, engineering or technical community
  • working within STFC’s remit
  • based at an eligible UK research organisation.

The full economic cost of your project can be up to £225,000. STFC will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

Within the overall £225,000 there is funding available for provision of up to 50% of full time equivalent (FTE) for administration and logistics.

Fellowships can start any time after 1 July 2023 and last up to three years.

Who can apply

We are inviting talented people, at various career stages, from STFC’s academic, engineering and technical communities to:

  • establish or demonstrate themselves as leading supporters of public engagement
  • undertake extended programmes of high-quality public engagement.

We are looking for people who want to:

  • act as academic leaders, proportionate to career stage, for engagement within their organisation
  • raise the profile of public engagement within their host organisation and professional communities.

Applicant eligibility

STFC leadership fellowships in public engagement are open to any applicant who can demonstrate a strong track record of leadership in their field and public engagement, appropriate and proportionate to their career stage. This can be either:

  • in an STFC-funded area of science and technology
  • clearly underpinned by use of STFC’s national or international laboratories and facilities.

You must have a demonstrable record of success in planning, delivering and evaluating public engagement activities to a wide range of audiences, again commensurate with career stage.

You should also be able to satisfy the criteria set out in the guidance for applicants.

Applicant employment status

You may be based at any eligible UK research organisation as set out in the STFC research grants handbook. This includes STFC’s own national laboratories.

At the time of application, you must have a contract of employment at the UK research organisation that wholly covers the duration of the fellowship. You must be in the employment of your host research organisation when the fellowship commences.

Institutions that wish to support an applicant currently in a postdoctoral research associate position (or equivalent) must guarantee that applicant’s employment for the duration of the award, should they be successful in securing a leadership fellowship in public engagement. This must be stated, in writing, as part of the host institution statement.

Anyone who wishes to apply for a leadership fellowship in public engagement, but is not employed by an approved research organisation, should approach an appropriate research organisation to explore arrangements for that research organisation being willing to host the fellowship. In this case, the hosting research organisation will need to confirm as part of their host institution statement that they are in a position to accept the fellowship when it commences.

Applicant career stages

The STFC leadership fellowship in public engagement is a single funding scheme that can support individuals at different stages of their career.

The information below highlights some of the ways in which we would expect approaches and evidence documenting your engagement and leadership experience at early and more advanced career stages. These are illustrative examples, and we recognise that individuals’ skills and experience will differ.

Early career researchers may be considered to be those who have completed their highest level of academic qualification within the 10 years prior to the point of application (not including any career breaks). If you are in postdoctoral research associate positions, you are entitled to apply for a leadership fellowship in public engagement, subject to your contract being commensurate with the length of your proposed fellowship duration.

If you do not meet the early career researcher technical requirements, you will be considered as established career researchers. However personal circumstances, career breaks and similar will also be taken into account. We encourage applicants from all career stages to consider how the scheme could support them in leading and embedding public engagement in their work.

You will be asked to specify which career stage you consider yourself to belong to as part of your application. STFC reserves the right to make a final decision as to which career stage it considers you to fit for the purposes of peer review decisions.

Time commitment

The time commitment and duration of a leadership fellowship in public engagement is flexible.

A typical fellowship would be for between 20% to 40% of your time for a period of up to 36 months.

You can commence your award at any time after 1 July 2023.

Applicant person specification

Irrespective of your career stage, as with all funding STFC expects to support only the highest-quality candidates who can demonstrate outstanding personal qualities relative to their level of experience. To determine suitability, we assess you according to the following ‘person specification’, which forms the basis of our peer review requirements and assessment criteria.

Personal attributes for early career requirement

Research or technical expertise

You must:

  • have a high-quality track record of research or technical achievement proportionate to your career stage
  • make clear efforts to increase the likelihood of impact occurring from your work
  • work in an STFC science area or be an STFC facilities user.
Engagement expertise

You must demonstrate:

  • a clear understanding of what constitutes high-quality public engagement planning, delivery and evaluation
  • evidence of management or leadership in planning and delivering public engagement activities.
Strategic vision

You must demonstrate:

  • experience in identifying and developing public engagement opportunities and presenting those opportunities in a strategic context
  • an awareness of how to work in order to realise such opportunities.
Collaborative working

You must:

  • demonstrate evidence of having worked in collaborative teams effectively
  • provide evidence of the benefits of team working on your own projects
  • be capable of self-reflecting on your own role in a team, and how to increase the effectiveness of a team in which you work.
Influence and leadership

You can:

Planning and implementation

You demonstrate:

  • experience of public engagement project planning, management and evaluation approaches and have evidence of applying such a structure to your work
  • excellent time management and prioritisation abilities.

Personal attributes for established career requirement

Research or technical expertise


  • have an outstanding track record of research or technical achievement, including evidence of impact arising from your work
  • demonstrate clear evidence of national or international standing within your field
  • work in an STFC science area or be an STFC facilities user.
Engagement expertise


  • clearly demonstrate evidence of a deep and nuanced understanding of what constitutes high-quality public engagement
  • have clear evidence of having led or coordinated complex or large-scale programmes of engagement.
Strategic vision


  • have clear evidence of a skill for identifying and developing opportunities and presenting those opportunities in a strategic context
  • can demonstrate how you have motivated and mobilised individuals, groups and teams from one or more organisations to deliver against a shared vision.
Collaborative working


  • provide evidence that you can create and maintain conditions under which collaborations and teams thrive
  • have clear evidence of fostering successful collaborative projects
  • have evidence of taking a key leadership role to ensure effective team working.
Influence and leadership


  • can demonstrate leadership of large-scale, ambitious or complex projects, including effective delegation
  • provide evidence of effectively influencing senior leaders in your field or institution
  • have led or participated in of programmes of culture change
  • are clearly connected into and aware of the national public engagement landscape and valued for your experience
  • are able to provide evidence of effective leadership (you may find it helpful to reference the NCCPE leadership resources).
Planning and implementation


  • have extensive experience of rigorous planning, management and evaluation approaches that deliver complex projects successfully
  • demonstrate excellent time management and prioritisation abilities.

What we're looking for

Our expectations of our leadership fellows


We expect you to:

  • act as academic leaders for engagement within your organisation in order to maximise the strategic value and sustainability of engagement activities
  • raise the profile of public engagement within your host institution and professional communities, including sharing best practice and supporting and encouraging colleagues and others to actively participate in public engagement activities, especially to new audiences
  • encourage and develop strengthened capacity and networks for public engagement activities within your organisation or professional communities, increasing sustainability and developing transferable skills
  • seek to initiate and maintain discussions about the value of public engagement activities to your organisation and how you feed into the achievement of strategic objectives.


We expect you to:

  • deliver a prolonged, thematic and appropriate programme of high-quality public engagement that:
    • adds sustained public engagement capacity to host institution or professional community, or both
    • covers multiple different events and activities during the lifetime of the fellowship
    • has fully considered how to identify and involve audiences and understanding the potential benefits to the audiences (the relationship between the proposed engagement activities and approach to public engagement leadership should be made clear)
  • promote and champion STFC science, technology and facilities, including the impact of science and technology on society.


We expect you to:

  • demonstrate a clear understanding of the landscape of public engagement networks and contribute pro-actively to help enhance and develop them
  • regularly interact with STFC’s public engagement and communication teams, including STFC networks, events, grant holder meetings and advisory structures when requested.


We expect you to:

  • plan and implement effective evaluation throughout the lifetime of the project
  • disseminate learning to the wider STFC and public engagement community.

Funding available

The maximum value that may be sought is £225,000.

As the scheme comes under the full economic costing framework, the maximum payable by STFC would be £180,000. STFC will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

Funds are available for a range of costs in support of the fellowship, including:

  • staff costs
  • travel
  • consumables.

You are encouraged to make use of the availability of up to 50% FTE for administrative and logistical support for the fellowship.

No single item of equipment over £10,000 will be funded as the scheme has no capital budget.

Scheme remit

You are expected to:

  • undertake high-quality programmes of engagement and outreach
  • act as champions for the value and practice of engagement with research in your host institution and research community.

You are expected to remain ‘research active’ during your fellowship. The scheme is designed to support those individuals who wish to champion and lead high-quality public engagement as a core component of a high-quality research or technical career.

Demonstrating leadership and capacity building

STFC requires you to play a prominent role in creating the conditions where high quality public engagement can thrive, in one or more of your:

  • host department
  • institution
  • wider research community.

STFC requires you to champion the value of excellence in public engagement with research.

A substantial proportion of every leadership fellowship in public engagement must be devoted to activities you consider to be focused on public engagement leadership and capacity building. You should demonstrate that you will devote a minimum of 25% of your leadership fellowship time to these activities.

You are required to draw on previous engagement examples and relevant evidence, to demonstrate clear understanding of the needs and requirements of your proposed public or publics, and audiences, in order to develop activities tailored to your working environment or community networks.

You must explain why such approaches are appropriate. Where evidence exists as to an institution or community’s existing attitudes towards engagement, this should be cited.

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics engagement activities

Proposed engagement programmes must either:

  • clearly focus on the remit of the STFC science and technology programme
  • clearly and demonstrably align to the science and technology work of STFC’s national and international laboratories and facilities.

Fellowships will not be awarded unless there is a strong and demonstrable link between the proposed activities and STFC science, technology or facilities. We welcome proposals that emphasise a strong interdisciplinary connection to STFC’s remit.

The remit of the STFC science and technology programme is:

  • astronomy, solar and planetary science
  • particle physics
  • particle astrophysics
  • cosmology
  • nuclear physics
  • accelerator science.

Examples of STFC’s national and international laboratories and facilities include:

  • CERN
  • Boulby Underground Laboratory
  • Hartree Centre at Daresbury
  • RAL Space
  • UK Astronomy Technology Centre.

STFC public engagement strategy

You should use your case for support to clearly explain how your leadership fellowship in public engagement will further the aims of the STFC public engagement strategy and reflect the engagement goals of UK Research and Innovation.

Social, ethical and economic benefits

Applications that highlight the social, ethical and economic benefits of research are welcomed.

One-off activities

STFC leadership fellowships in public engagement are not intended to fund single ‘one-off’ activities. For such engagement activities, you should consider alternative funding sources, including other STFC awards.

Leadership fellowships and STFC’s Wonder Initiative

You are encouraged to submit leadership fellowship in public engagement applications that include work with the Wonder Initiative target audience or those considered to have low science capital.

The Wonder Initiative is about giving ‘under-served’ communities an equal voice by listening, understanding, and responding to what people want to know about science and technology.

Wonder Initiative marks a long-term commitment by STFC public engagement to move our focus towards audience-driven public engagement with communities in the most socio-economically-deprived areas of the UK.

The focal audience for the Wonder Initiative is defined according to indices of multiple deprivation. Specifically, STFC is interested in supporting particularly those eight to 14 years old, plus their families and carers, from the 40% most socioeconomically deprived areas of the UK.

STFC defines the 40% most socioeconomically deprived areas of the UK as those areas listed in the bottom two quintiles of the indices of multiple deprivation for their respective part of the UK.

How to apply

You must apply using the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

You can find advice on completing your application in:

We recommend you start your application early.

Your host organisation will also be able to provide advice and guidance.

Submitting your application

Before starting an application, you will need to log in or create an account in Je-S.

Before submitting your application, you are encouraged to contact the public engagement team to discuss your ideas.

Applications for this funding opportunity are submitted via the research councils’ Je-S system.

To create the document in Je-S, you will need to select the following options:

  • council: STFC
  • document type: fellowship proposal
  • scheme: Public Engagement Fellowships (2134)
  • call/type/mode: Leadership Fellowships in PE 2023/Other/Responsive.

If you have not previously used the Je-S system to submit an application, please ensure that, well in advance of the closing date, you have set up an account. Guidance for completion of the application is provided through the Je-S help text, available from the Je-S front page, and context-sensitive help throughout the system.

You are advised to contact your host organisation’s research administration as soon as possible. They will be able to advise about costing, your proposal and internal procedures relating to submitting an application through Je-S.

Your application must be costed and submitted by the host organisation.

It is important to note that when you press ‘submit’, it doesn’t mean that the application has been submitted to STFC. The application will be in your approver or submitter pool for you or your organisation to submit to the research council.

You can track your application in Je-S by selecting the option, ‘Show submission path’. This shows the submission process set up by the research organisation, where the application is currently in the process, and the individuals will receive a system-generated email when the application has been submitted.


STFC must receive your application by 12 January 2023 at 4:00pm UK time.

You will not be able to apply after this time. Please leave enough time for your proposal to pass through your organisation’s Je-S submission route before this date.

You should ensure you are aware of and follow any internal institutional deadlines that may be in place.


Emailed or hard copy applications will not be accepted, and the page limits outlined below will be strictly enforced by STFC. If any of the supporting documents exceed the specified limits, only the pages within the limits will be considered.

The documents must be submitted as PDF attachments and should conform to the font and margin guidelines in the Je-S help text.

Together with your completed Je-S application form, you will need to provide the following mandatory attachments, in PDF format.

Personal statement

Maximum of two sides of A4. Please submit this as the CV attachment type option available in Je-S. The personal statement should be written to address the six personal characteristics listed in the applicant person specification.

You should also:

  • clearly indicate which career stage you consider yourself to fall within, with a short description of your career history to justify that categorisation
  • summarise any STFC public engagement awards held (currently or previously) and any similar public engagement awards.

You must not provide a comprehensive list of publications.

Case for support

Maximum of eight sides of A4. The case for support must include the following:

  • a rationale for the fellowship, showing the overall aims, anticipated outcomes and how activities will contribute to meeting the stated aims of the STFC public engagement strategy
  • an indication of the different engagement activities you intend to undertake during the fellowship, including production of any resources.

Where reasonably possible, you should provide details of your plans to deliver the different engagement activities, including:

  • audience insight
  • relevant experience
  • potential risks
  • mitigation strategies.

Plan for the delivery of appropriate leadership and capacity building activities

This is the plan for the delivery of appropriate leadership and capacity building activities that you intend to undertake during the fellowship. Where reasonably possible, you should provide details of your plans to deliver these activities, including:

  • relevant experience
  • evidence of need
  • potential risks
  • mitigation strategies.

Evaluation plan

Showing details of how the outputs, outcomes, and reach of the activities, and the leadership fellowship in public engagement as a whole, will be captured and evaluated.

Dissemination plan

Detailing how resources, learning outcomes, outputs and so on will be made available to wider audiences.

Justification of resources

A maximum of two sides of A4 (of the eight total for the case for support). This document justifies the requested funds applied for in an application. A justification of resources should:

  • allow reviewers to make an informed judgement on whether the resources requested are appropriate for the proposed programme
  • explain why the resources requested are appropriate for the programme proposed, taking into account the nature and complexity of the proposal.

It should not be simply a list of the resources required. This is already given in the Je-S form as all items requested in the Je-S form must be justified. This includes the administrative and logistical support component of the scheme.

Any proposals requesting items that would ordinarily be found in a department, for example non-specialist computers, should include justification both for:

  • why they are required for the project
  • why they cannot be provided from the research organisation’s own resources (including funding from indirect costs from grants).

The justification of resources is a free-text document. So that you do not miss any costings from the Je-S form or any justifications for the items requested, we recommend that you match the costs to the proposal headings below (where appropriate).

Further details of how costs should be justified can be found in the guidance for applicants.

Host institution letter of support for the proposal from your head of department or school

This must include statements describing:

  • how the institution will support you to achieve the aims of your fellowship
  • the percentage FTE dedicated to the proposed fellowship and a commitment to release equivalent time from your duties to enable the fellowship to be effective
  • how the STFC-funded administrative or logistical resource will be deployed to support the fellowship
  • the envisaged lasting impact on support for public engagement within the department
  • letters of support from any project partners
  • names of two reviewers, independent of your organisation, one or both of whom will be asked for reviewer comments if you are called for an interview.

Letters of support from project partners

Any substantive project partners are required to provide a ‘letter of support’ alongside the main body of the application.

This letter is read alongside the proposal’s case for support and is considered as part of the peer review process. A well-written letter of support will confirm the organisation’s commitment to the proposed project by articulating the benefits of the collaboration, its relevance to the partner and the potential impacts of the programme in the eyes of the partner.

The letter of support should also identify the period of support and detail the range of ‘in-kind’ and financial contributions offered by the partner. Letters of support should follow the format set out in the guidance for grant applicants.

Highlighting alignment to the Wonder initiative

STFC is inviting leadership fellowship in public engagement applications that propose programmes of engagement that work with the target audience of the Wonder Initiative.

If you wish to undertake such work, you should use your case for support and project partner letters of support to highlight how your application aligns to the Wonder Initiative in the following ways:

  • the rationale for the leadership fellowship in public engagement should clearly indicate how the aims and desired outcomes have been developed in partnership with audience group or groups selected
  • the rationale should also indicate why the target audience has been selected and provide a summary of the audience in a way that clearly indicates alignment to target audiences
  • the plan for engagement activities should show clear evidence of being designed in partnership with the target audiences.

Letters of support will ideally be obtained from partner organisations that will work with the target audience as part of the leadership fellowship, detailing how their contribution will help to support a successful programme.

How we will assess your application

Stage one: application sift panel

Applications will be assessed on the below criteria.

Personal characteristics

Do you:

  • demonstrate, or have the potential to develop, the necessary influencing, capacity building and leadership capabilities?
  • have the relative research or technical expertise?
  • demonstrate suitable engagement expertise, proportionate to your career stage?
  • demonstrate sufficient understanding of the strategic value of public engagement to your organisation and how to use this to assist the organisation to meet its strategic public engagement objectives?
  • demonstrate sufficient evidence of collaborative working, appropriate to your career stage?
  • demonstrate, or clearly have the potential to develop, the necessary planning and implementation capabilities?

Project characteristics

Have you:

  • proposed an effective and suitable plan for evaluating the outputs, outcomes and reach of all proposed activities?
  • demonstrated a clear understanding of the requirements for embedding effective evaluation throughout the project?
  • demonstrated a full understanding of evaluation methodology, including that contained within the STFC public engagement evaluation framework?

Does the application make clear how the proposed programme aligns with the aims of the STFC public engagement strategy and how the project will contribute to the aims of the strategy?

Have you:

  • clearly described how you plan to play a leading role in the building of capacity for public engagement within your institution and the wider community and what the legacy of this will be?
  • proposed a suitable plan for effectively publicising the outcomes of the fellowship and disseminating any resources or activities produced to targeted and wider audiences (including public engagement practitioner networks) as appropriate?
  • clearly described the different engagement activities planned as part of the leadership fellowship in public engagement?
  • clearly identified your rationale for the proposed programme, provided suitable evidence of the need for such work and how this approach would be appropriate within your working environment? Is there an effective link between the public engagement activities and the leadership and capacity building components of the application?
  • clearly demonstrated the planning required to achieve the declared objectives of the leadership fellowship in public engagement?

Institutional and partnership characteristics

Is the proposal accompanied by a strong letter of support from your head of department or school that demonstrates support for the capacity building and delivery aspects?

Are the institutional actions outlined in support of you appropriate to achieving the aims of the fellowship?

Do any letters of support from project partners indicate strong buy-in to the application?


Applicants shortlisted on the basis of their written application will be provided with feedback on any aspect of the application that the panel would like to explore further at the interview.

Feedback will also be provided, via Je-S, to applicants who were unsuccessful.

Stage two: written peer review

For applications that are shortlisted in stage one, written peer review comments will be sought.

These peer reviewers are selected from those that you have nominated, and those identified by the public engagement team.

You will be given the opportunity to respond to the comments made by reviewers, through the principal investigator response process.

Peer reviewers are required to comment on the written assessment criteria:

  • experience: your research experience and your track record in engagement
  • expertise: whether you have the necessary expertise or access to any necessary expertise to carry out the proposed programme of capacity building and whether the public engagement delivery work effectively
  • relevance: how well the proposal matches the aims of the STFC public engagement programme
  • impact: whether the proposed activities would make a significant social or economic impact in terms of the numbers reached or the effect on the audience
  • planning and delivery: if the planned delivery of the project is likely to achieve the declared objectives
  • evaluation: whether there are appropriate stated criteria for the success of the fellowship and quantitative and qualitative means of evaluating them
  • overall assessment: comments relating to the proposal that have not been made elsewhere.

Stage three: panel interview

You are required to attend an online panel interview, during which you will have an opportunity to give a brief overview of your proposal, followed by detailed questioning from the panel members.

Interviews typically consist of a 10-minute presentation, followed by a question and answer session of around thirty minutes.

Aspects of the application that have been raised in the earlier peer review stages, or feedback provided, can be addressed in either part of the interview.

The panel will make final recommendations for funding on the day of the interviews, based on their assessment of your interview performance against the panel assessment criteria and the written peer review.

Stage four: STFC funding decision

Based on the recommendations from the interview panel, STFC will then take decisions regarding which applications are funded. The STFC public engagement team will then prepare feedback for all applicants.

Once this is approved by the panel chair, it will be added to the Je-S system and you will be notified officially of the outcome of their application.

It is the intention that this process is completed within two weeks of the stage three panel meeting.

Contact details

Get help with developing your proposal

For help and advice on costings and writing your proposal please contact your research office in the first instance, allowing sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process.

Ask about this funding opportunity

STFC public engagement team


Andy Thompson


Telephone: 07598 404139

Discuss national laboratory participation in your application

If you wish to discuss the ability of STFC to participate in their proposal, these individuals are appropriate first points of contact for the major national laboratory sites.

Rutherford Appleton Laboratory

Sophy Palmer, Public Engagement Manager


Daresbury Laboratory

Phill Day, Public Engagement Manager


UK Astronomy Technology Centre

Abi Ashton, Public Engagement Manager


Get help with applying through Je-S



01793 444164

Opening times

Je-S helpdesk opening times

Additional info

Aims of the scheme

We want to:

  • encourage and support leadership and capacity building for public engagement activities within organisations and networks
  • make a substantial contribution to the wider community of highly skilled practitioners and networks that are under the STFC umbrella
  • inspire and involve colleagues, students and members of the public with STFC science, technology and facilities
  • support talented people, at various career stages, from STFC’s academic, engineering and technical communities to undertake extended programmes of high-quality public engagement
  • highlight the achievements of STFC science, technology and facilities, demonstrating the excitement of research and the value of science, technology, engineering and mathematics to the UK.

Scheme conditions and features

The STFC leadership fellowship in public engagement scheme is governed by the grant conditions as set out in the STFC research grants handbook, unless otherwise stated.

Applications are accepted and awards are made on the understanding that research organisations and leadership fellows agree to observe the terms and conditions and the scheme requirements set out in this document and any amendments issued.

Awards are made on the understanding that your work and progress are subject to the same monitoring and appraisal procedures as those of other academic staff within the host institution.

Reporting and liaison with STFC

You will be required to provide reports of activities to the STFC public engagement team when requested. STFC reserves the right to request periodic information or to visit you during your fellowship period. You will be expected to meet with the STFC public engagement grants mentor a minimum of twice a year.

You will also be asked to attend meetings to exchange information and ideas with others undertaking STFC public engagement activities and contribute to networking and peer learning.

You must make all reasonable efforts, if so invited, to respond to requests for information or to attend events or activities organised by the research council concerning the research undertaken. Such events may be held after a grant has finished.

You will be expected to attend an annual meeting of all STFC leadership fellows and other engagement grant holders.

You are required to regularly update the record of your fellowship using the research council reporting tool, Researchfish, in line with the STFC public engagement evaluation framework. There are additional questions for STFC public engagement grant holders.

This enables STFC to easily extract data regarding the impact of the work of our leadership fellows in public engagement whenever required and serves as a database of outcomes and impacts for grant holder’s own reference.

To assist with your Researchfish return, you are also required, throughout your award, to collect data relevant to your activities in the STFC public engagement metrics spreadsheet. Then, send it to the public engagement team once a year.

Guidance on how to fill in the public engagement questions on Researchfish, and the metric spreadsheet.

Publication, resources and acknowledgement of support

Publications and other forms of media communication, including media appearances, press releases and conferences, must acknowledge the support received from STFC, quoting the grant reference number if appropriate. Resources produced as a result of any grants should acknowledge STFC as the funding source, using the standard format agreed by funders and publishers and detailed in the additional information accompanying this grant.

In order to ensure appropriate coordination and opportunities to increase the impact of engagement, external media activity produced as a result of this award must be signed off by the STFC media team before the activity takes place or is published. This includes:

  • press releases
  • online videos
  • media briefings.

You are responsible for giving STFC sufficient notice in advance of activities such that STFC can advise on content or build the activities of grant holders into our own communications and engagement programmes.

It is the responsibility of the research organisation, and all engaged in the research, to make every reasonable effort to ensure that the intellectual assets obtained in the course of the research, whether protected by intellectual property rights or not, are used to the benefit of society and the economy.

Outcomes and resources should be disseminated or made available to both research and more widespread audiences, for example to inform potential users and beneficiaries of the research.

Unless stated otherwise, the ownership of all intellectual assets, including intellectual property, and responsibility for their application, rests with the organisation that generates them.

STFC may, in individual cases, reserve the right to retain ownership of intellectual assets. This includes intellectual property (or assign it to a third party under an exploitation agreement) and to arrange for it to be exploited for the national benefit and that of the research organisation involved. This right, if exercised, will be clearly set out in an additional grant condition.

There should be suitable recognition and reward to researchers who undertake activities that deliver benefit through the application of research outcomes. The research organisation must ensure that all those associated with the research are aware of and accept these arrangements.

Organisational support

Funding is provided in order to enable you to undertake specific public engagement activities, free of some or all of the restrictions imposed by your normal employment. Awards are made on the understanding that your work and progress are subject to the same monitoring and appraisal procedures as those of other academic staff within the host research organisation. Furthermore, awards are made on the presumption that there are adequate facilities at the host organisation to support the proposed programme of work.


It is a condition of every grant that STFC accepts no liability for the manner in which the work in connection with the grant is undertaken. The research organisation and leadership fellow in public engagement will be responsible in all respects for the work and the consequences of it.

Termination of awards

A grant may be terminated, or its conditions varied, at any time at the absolute discretion of STFC. Should you leave your institution for another research organisation or an alternative type of employment, you must notify the STFC public engagement team immediately.

If it is not possible to transfer the grant, then STFC will terminate payments from the day immediately after you leave the host institution. Failure to submit reports will result in termination of the award unless there are mitigating reasons.

Host institution

You are advised to contact your proposed host department as early as possible, and certainly well ahead of the deadline for submission of applications. Departments may have internal processes to select which candidates to support and the deadlines for these may be several weeks in advance of an STFC closing date.

Research organisations, through a head of department or equivalent, must provide a host institution statement to accompany any application. This statement must outline how the department will recognise and support the leadership fellow in public engagement and the aims of their fellowship, should they be successful in their application.

Research organisations must:

  • consider leadership fellows in public engagement as a core part of their research capability and ensure that their work is integrated into the host department as part of the research organisation’s strategic and operational activities
  • recognise and value leadership fellows in public engagement as highly valued staff who play an important and substantial role in encouraging engagement within their host institution
  • provide leadership fellows in public engagement with the commensurate level of assistance and support required to make the fellowship a success.

Administration and logistical support

STFC encourages applications to include requests for administrative or logistical support of up to 50% FTE equivalent to directly support successful applicants.

The funds awarded are not required to be used to support a single individual and this resource can be flexibly deployed through the duration of the fellowship.

Project partners and letters of support

STFC public engagement awards are often partnerships between the grant holders (who apply for and receive financial support from STFC) and project partners. Such partnerships are not a requirement of STFC support but may strengthen a case for funding when they are deemed well planned and important for delivery of an impactful programme.

Before an application is made, STFC requires that you create proposals that commit the involvement of all parties required to make the proposed programme a success.

We encourage you to create these partnerships in advance of submitting an application for funding, and to include details of the partnership in the application. Well-constructed partnerships strengthen proposals by providing complementary skills and knowledge, and additional staff time.

Project partner contributions in cash or in-kind should be seen as additional to the research councils’ contribution and are not considered part of the full economic cost of the project.

Impact of COVID-19

At the time of opening, we recognise that there remain potential issues developing partnerships related to COVID-19. The STFC public engagement team would be happy to discuss the situation as you develop your submissions. We encourage you to continue to engage and liaise with potential partners to the fullest practical extent and develop your application accordingly.

If you have faced difficulties in building and evidencing partnerships, we encourage early contact with the STFC public engagement team to obtain advice regarding your application.

STFC national laboratories and employees as project partners

STFC employs hundreds of scientific and technical staff, alongside our own team of public engagement professionals based at our laboratories across the UK.

You are welcome to seek to include STFC as project partners on public engagement applications where relevant, subject to the guidance above.

You must contact STFC staff at least four weeks in advance of the submission deadline if you consider STFC involvement to be important in making your proposal a success.

STFC reserves the right to choose not to participate in proposals at our own discretion.

Please note that applications involving STFC as a project partner are treated no differently to other applications in the peer review and funding decision process.

This is the website for UKRI: our seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK. Let us know if you have feedback or would like to help improve our online products and services.