Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Public engagement Nucleus awards 2024: stage 2

Invitation-only funding to engage the public with STFC supported science, technology or facilities.

Your stage one proposal must have been successful.

Proposals must include a subject matter expert in a Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC)-funded area.

The full economic cost of your project can be up to £125,000. We will fund 80% of the full economic cost (FEC).

For successful non-TRAC (FEC) research organisations (ROs), these will be funded at 100%, up to £100,000.

Your project should be a maximum of 36 months in duration.

Who can apply

You may only apply for this funding opportunity if we have invited you to do so following a successful outline application at the Nucleus Awards 2024 Stage 1 funding opportunity.

Who is eligible to apply

  • organisations that were successful at the Nucleus awards 2024 Stage 1 funding opportunity

Who is not eligible to apply

  • organisations that did not apply the Nucleus Awards 2024 Stage 1 funding opportunity
  • organisations that applied to the Nucleus Awards 2024 Stage 1 funding opportunity but were not selected to proceed to stage 2

Equality, diversity and inclusion

We are committed to achieving equality of opportunity for all funding applicants. We encourage applications from a diverse range of researchers.

We support people to work in a way that suits their personal circumstances. This includes:

  • career breaks
  • support for people with caring responsibilities
  • flexible working
  • alternative working patterns

Find out more about equality, diversity and inclusion at UKRI.

What we're looking for


STFC Nucleus grant holders undertake high quality programmes of public engagement that inspire and involve target audiences with stories of STFC science, technology and facilities. Grant holders may also use Nucleus awards to create and sustain public engagement networks that develop communities of practice.


The duration of this award is expected to be between 24 and 36 months.

Funding available

The Public Engagement Nucleus Awards scheme falls under the full economic costs framework. Therefore, all costs that contribute to the full economic cost of the proposal should be included under the cost headings as shown in the costs we fund section of the STFC Guidance for applicants web page. As the Nucleus award scheme has no capital budget, applicants cannot request funds under the equipment heading.

STFC will fund a maximum of £100,000 for each proposal. For those ROs that are subject to TRAC, this will be 80% of the overall costs (that is, a maximum of £125,000 at FEC). For non-TRAC (FEC) ROs, please add all your costs under the ‘Exceptions’ fund heading, these would be funded at 100% FEC, up to a maximum of £100,000.

Other than the restrictions outlined below, there are no set restrictions on the type of costs that may be applied for. For example, contributions to salaries, cost of materials, and travel and subsistence are eligible.

What we will not fund

The following costs are ineligible for support through Nucleus awards:

  • projects where the target audiences are not primarily within the UK
  • fees or honoraria to people already in paid employment to visit or give talks at schools, societies and so on where such activities would reasonably be undertaken as part of their normal duties
  • costs for hardware or equipment over the individual value of £10,000
  • infrastructure funding or costs for building construction and maintenance
  • projects where it is clear that the project would go ahead irrespective of STFC support
  • retrospective funding, including those projects with a start date after the closing date but before the funding decisions are announced
  • contingency funds

For applicants from or for schools, note the following ineligible costs:

  • programmes of formal education
  • school trips to CERN and trips to other laboratories, observatories and science venues unless they are intrinsic to a wider public engagement project

How to apply

We are running this funding opportunity on the new UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Funding Service. You cannot apply on the Joint Electronic Submissions (Je-S) system.

The project lead is responsible for completing the application process on the Funding Service, but we expect all team members and project partners to contribute to the application.

Only the lead research organisation can submit an application to UKRI.

To apply

Follow the link to the Funding Service provided in your invitation email to start your application.

  1. Confirm you are the project lead.
  2. Answer questions directly in the text boxes. You can save your answers and come back to complete them or work offline and return to copy and paste your answers. If we need you to upload a document, follow the upload instructions in the Funding Service. All questions and assessment criteria are listed in the ‘How to apply’ section on this Funding finder page.
  3. Allow enough time to check your application in ‘read-only’ view before sending to your research office.
  4. Send the completed application to your research office for checking. They will return it to you if it needs editing.
  5. Your research office will submit the completed and checked application to UKRI.

Where indicated, you can also demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. You should:

  • use images sparingly and only to convey important information that cannot easily be put into words
  • insert each new image onto a new line
  • provide a descriptive legend for each image immediately underneath it (this counts towards your word limit)
  • ensure files are smaller than 5MB and in JPEG, JPG, JPE, JFI, JIF, JFIF, PNG, GIF, BMP or WEBP format

Watch our research office webinars about the new Funding Service.

For more guidance on the Funding Service, see:


We must receive your application by 14 March at 4:00pm UK time.

You will not be able to apply after this time.

Make sure you are aware of and follow any internal institutional deadlines.

Following the submission of your application to the funding opportunity, your application cannot be changed, and applications will not be returned for amendment. If your application does not follow the guidance, it may be rejected.

Personal data

Processing personal data

STFC, as part of UKRI, will need to collect some personal information to manage your Funding Service account and the registration of your funding applications.

We will handle personal data in line with UK data protection legislation and manage it securely. For more information, including how to exercise your rights, read our privacy notice.

Publication of outcomes

If your application is successful, we will publish some personal information on the UKRI Gateway to Research.


Word limit: 550

In plain English, provide a summary we can use to identify the most suitable experts to assess your application.

We may make this summary publicly available on external-facing websites, so make it suitable for a variety of readers.

Guidance for writing a summary

Clearly describe your proposed work in terms of:

  • context
  • the challenge the project addresses
  • aims and objectives
  • potential applications and benefits

Core team

List the key members of your team and assign them roles from the following:

  • project lead (PL)
  • project co-lead (UK) (PcL)
  • specialist
  • grant manager
  • professional enabling staff
  • research and innovation associate
  • technician
  • visiting researcher

Only list one individual as project lead.

Find out more about UKRI’s core team roles in funding applications.

Application questions


Word limit: 750

What are you hoping to achieve with your proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how your proposed work:

  • is of high quality and importance
  • is timely given current trends, context, and needs
  • promotes wider advocacy of public engagement

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the service.

We expect you to demonstrate:

  • a clearly defined rationale for the proposed programme and evidence to support this, including how this links to the aims of the STFC Public Engagement Strategy
  • a programme of high-quality public engagement
  • that the programme inspires and involves target audiences with stories of STFC science, people, technology or facilities
  • that the engagement activities clearly focus on the STFC science programme remit or align with the work of the STFC national and international laboratories and facilities


Word limit: 1000

How are you going to deliver your proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how you have designed your approach so that it:

  • is effective and appropriate to achieve your objectives
  • is feasible, and comprehensively identifies any risks to delivery and how they will be managed
  • embeds equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI)

Within the Approach section we also expect you to:

  • clearly describe the different engagement, networking, or capacity building activities planned as part of the project
  • clearly identify target audiences and the appropriateness of the methodology proposed to reach and retain these groups
  • provide evidence of audience demand
  • demonstrate and build upon learning from previous activities and wider sector good practice

Applicants are expected to upload a single PDF document to provide evidence of audience demand, if applicable. The Funding Service will provide document upload details when you apply. If this does not apply to your proposed work, you will be able to indicate this in the Funding Service.

Evaluation Plan

Word limit: 400

How will the outputs, outcomes and impacts of the project be captured, evaluated and shared?

You will need to supply clear evidence of the following:

  • a detailed evaluation plan including methodology
  • how the evaluation is linked to the STFC PE evaluation framework
  • how learning from the proposed activity will be captured and shared

Dissemination plan

Word limit: 400

How will you publicise the resources, outcomes and outputs of the project?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

You will need to supply clear evidence of the following:

  • planning for dissemination of the resources, outcomes, outputs, and so on, to relevant audiences
  • how wider audiences could benefit through activities such as sharing good practice or sharing learning

Applicant and team capability to deliver

Word limit: 1,000

Why are you the right individual or team to successfully deliver the proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Evidence of how you, and if relevant your team, have:

  • the relevant experience to deliver the proposed work
  • the right balance of skills and expertise to cover the proposed work
  • the appropriate leadership and management skills to deliver the work and your approach to developing others
  • contributed to developing a positive working environment and wider community

Complete this as a narrative. Do not format it like a CV.

UKRI has introduced new role types for funding opportunities being run on the new Funding Service.

For full details, see Eligibility as an individual.

You may demonstrate elements of your responses in visual form if relevant. Further details are provided in the Funding Service.

For full details, see Eligibility as an individual.

Ethics and responsible research and innovation (RRI)

Word limit: 250

What are the ethical, RRI or both, implications and issues relating to the proposed work? If you do not think that the proposed work raises any ethical or RRI issues, explain why.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Demonstrate that you have identified and evaluated:

  • the relevant ethical or responsible research and innovation considerations
  • how you will manage these considerations

If you are collecting or using data you should identify:

  • any legal and ethical considerations of collecting, releasing, or both, of storing the data (including consent, confidentiality, anonymisation, security and other ethical considerations and, in particular, strategies taken to not preclude further reuse of data)
  • formal information standards that your proposed work will comply with

Resources and cost justification

Word limit: 750

What will you need to deliver your proposed work and how much will it cost?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Justify the application’s more costly resources, in particular:

  • project staff
  • travel and subsistence
  • any consumables beyond typical requirements, or that are required in exceptional quantities
  • all resources that have been costed as ‘Exceptions’

Assessors are not looking for a line-by-line breakdown of all project resources but require sufficient detail of costs to enable an accurate assessment of value for money.

Overall, they want you to demonstrate how the resources you anticipate needing for your proposed work:

  • are comprehensive, appropriate and justified
  • represent the optimal use of resources to achieve the intended outcomes
  • maximise potential outcomes and impacts

Target audience

Word limit: 100

We expect that projects will focus primarily on audiences based in the UK.

Please show the total estimated number of people who will be reached within each audience group shown below and express this as a percentage (which must total 100%):

  • primary school children
  • secondary school children (up to 16 years old)
  • 16-19 year-olds
  • teachers
  • general public
  • families
  • other

Please copy and paste the table shown in the Funding Service into the answer field to provide your response in the requested format.

If you are targeting a specific subset of the general public not mentioned above, please use the entry for ‘general public’ and specify here (for example gender specific or SEN audiences).

Wonder Initiative

Word limit: 300

If appropriate, how will your project engage with the Wonder Initiative audience and what is the anticipated impact?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Please provide details of the following:

  • evidence of demand
  • evidence of how the audience would be reached
  • the appropriateness of the activities to the audience
  • the potential impact on the audience

The Wonder Initiative aims to connect people from all backgrounds with our science and technology. Wonder is about giving under-served communities an equal voice by listening, understanding and responding to what people want to know about science and technology.

The Wonder Initiative focuses on working with participants from the 40% most socio-economically deprived areas of the UK, in particular eight to 14-year-olds and their families and carers.

STFC programme area

Word limit: 50

Which of the STFC programme areas are relevant to your project?

What the assessors are looking for in your response
  • astronomy, solar and planetary science
  • particle physics
  • particle astrophysics
  • nuclear physics
  • accelerator science
  • computational science
  • STFC facilities

Please show the percentage of relevant programme areas and approximate percentages (which must total 100%). Please copy and paste the table shown in the Funding Service into the answer field to provide your response in the requested format.

Your organisation’s support

Word limit: 250

Provide details of support from your research organisation.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Provide a Statement of Support from your organisation detailing why the proposed work is needed. This should include details of any matched funding that will be provided to support the activity and any additional support that might add value to the work.

The committee will be looking for a strong statement of commitment from your organisation.

We recognise that in some instances, this information may be provided by the Research Office, the Technology Transfer Office (TTO) or equivalent, or a combination of both.

If applicable, you should also include the following details:

  • a significant person’s name and their position, from the TTO or Research Office, or both
  • office address or web link

Project partners

Word limit: 500

Add details about any project partners’ contributions. If there are no project partners, you can indicate this on the Funding Service.

A project partner is a collaborating organisation who will have an integral role in the proposed project. This may include direct (cash) or indirect (in-kind) contributions such as expertise, staff time or use of facilities.

Add the following project partner details:

  • the organisation name and address (searchable via a drop-down list or enter the organisation’s details manually, as applicable)
  • the project partner contact name and email address
  • the type of contribution (direct or in-direct) and its monetary value

If a detail is entered incorrectly and you have saved the entry, remove the specific project partner record and re-add it with the correct information.

For audit purposes, UKRI requires formal collaboration agreements to be put in place if an award is made.

Project partners: letters or emails) of support

Word limit: 10

Upload a single PDF containing the letters or emails of support from each partner you named in the ‘Project partners’ section.

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Enter the words ‘attachment supplied’ in the text box, or if you do not have any project partners enter ‘N/A’. Each letter or email you provide should:

  • confirm the partner’s commitment to the project
  • clearly explain the value, relevance, and possible benefits of the work to them
  • describe any additional value that they bring to the project

Save letters or emails of support from each partner in a single PDF no bigger than 8MB. Unless specially requested, please do not include any sensitive personal data within the attachment.

For the file name, use the unique Funding Service number the system gives you when you create an application, followed by the words ‘Project partner’.

If the attachment does not meet these requirements, the application will be rejected.

The Funding Service will provide document upload details when you apply. If you do not have any project partners, you will be able to indicate this in the Funding Service.

Ensure you have prior agreement from project partners so that, if you are offered funding, they will support your project as indicated in the contributions template.

For audit purposes, UKRI requires formal collaboration agreements to be put in place if an award is made.

Do not provide letters of support from host and project co-leads’ research organisations.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

We will assess your application using the following process.

Peer review

We will invite experts to review your application independently, against the specified criteria for this funding opportunity.

You will not be able to nominate reviewers for applications on the new UKRI Funding Service. Research councils will continue to select expert reviewers.

We are monitoring the requirement for applicant-nominated reviewers as we review policies and processes as part of the continued development of the new Funding Service.

You will have 10 working days to respond to reviewers’ comments.

Panel and interview

Following peer review, we will invite experts to use the evidence provided by reviewers and your applicant response to assess the quality of your application and rank it alongside other applications. As part of the panel process, an expert interview panel will conduct interviews with applicants after which the panel will make a funding recommendation.

We expect interviews to be held in May 2024 (dates to be confirmed).

Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) will make the final funding decision.


We aim to complete the assessment process within four months of receiving your application.


Feedback will be provided with the outcome of your application.

Principles of assessment

We support the San Francisco declaration on research assessment and recognise the relationship between research assessment and research integrity.

Find out about the UKRI principles of assessment and decision making.

Assessment areas

The assessment areas we will use are:

  • vision
  • approach
  • evaluation plan
  • dissemination plan
  • applicant and team capability to deliver
  • resources and cost justification

Find details of assessment questions and criteria under the ‘Application questions’ heading in the ‘How to apply’ section.

Contact details

Get help with your application

If you have a question and the answers aren’t provided on this page

Important note: The Helpdesk is committed to helping users of the UKRI Funding Service as effectively and as quickly as possible. In order to manage cases at peak volume times, the Helpdesk will triage and prioritise those queries with an imminent opportunity deadline or a technical issue. Enquiries raised where information is available on the Funding Finder opportunity page and should be understood early in the application process (for example, regarding eligibility or content/remit of an opportunity) will not constitute a priority case and will be addressed as soon as possible.

Contact details

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.

For questions related to this specific funding opportunity please contact

Any queries regarding the system or the submission of applications through the Funding Service should be directed to the helpdesk.

Phone: 01793 547490

Our phone lines are open:

  • Monday to Thursday 8:30am to 5:00pm
  • Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm

To help us process queries quicker, we request that users highlight the council and opportunity name in the subject title of their email query, include the application reference number, and refrain from contacting more than one mailbox at a time.

Find out more information on submitting an application.

Sensitive information

If you or a core team member need to tell us something you wish to remain confidential, email the Funding Service helpdesk on

Include in the subject line: [the funding opportunity title; sensitive information; your Funding Service application number].

Typical examples of confidential information include:

  • individual is unavailable until a certain date (for example due to parental leave)
  • declaration of interest
  • additional information about eligibility to apply that would not be appropriately shared in the ‘Applicant and team capability’ section
  • conflict of interest for UKRI to consider in reviewer or panel participant selection
  • the application is an invited resubmission

For information about how UKRI handles personal data, read UKRI’s privacy notice.

Additional info


This funding opportunity follows on from Nucleus Awards 2024 Stage 1 funding opportunity.

Research disruption due to COVID-19

We recognise that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major interruptions and disruptions across our communities. We are committed to ensuring that individual applicants and their wider team, including partners and networks, are not penalised for any disruption to their career, such as:

  • breaks and delays
  • disruptive working patterns and conditions
  • the loss of ongoing work
  • role changes that may have been caused by the pandemic

Reviewers and panel members will be advised to consider the unequal impacts that COVID-19 related disruption might have had on the capability to deliver and career development of those individuals included in the application. They will be asked to consider the capability of the applicant and their wider team to deliver the research they are proposing.

Where disruptions have occurred, you can highlight this within your application if you wish, but there is no requirement to detail the specific circumstances that caused the disruption.

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