Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: STFC leadership fellowships in public engagement 2024

Start application

Apply for funding to lead engaging the public with Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) supported science, technology or facilities.

You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for STFC funding.

Leadership fellows are expected to:

  • act as academic leaders for public engagement in your organisation
  • raise the profile of public engagement in your institution and professional communities
  • encourage and develop capacity and networks for public engagement activities in your organisation

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

Project duration is 24 to 36 months.

Who can apply

Before applying for funding, check the Eligibility of your organisation.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has introduced new role types for funding opportunities being run on the new UKRI Funding Service.

For full details, visit Eligibility as an individual.

Who is eligible to apply

STFC leadership fellowships in public engagement are open to applicants 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/or:

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

The STFC leadership fellowship in public engagement is a single funding scheme that can support individuals at different stages of their careers (early careers and established).

All applicants must hold a contract of employment for the duration of the proposed fellowship

Applicant employment status

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

Who is not eligible to apply

The funding opportunity is not available to:

  • anyone outside of STFC’s academic, engineering and technical communities
  • anyone not based at an organisation within the UK

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


The funding opportunity aims to:

  • support talented people, at different career stages, from STFC’s communities to lead extended programmes of high-quality public engagement that support capacity building within the host organisation and relevant networks
  • make a substantial contribution as a leader of public engagement to the wider community of highly skilled practitioners and networks that are under the STFC umbrella
  • 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
  • inspire and involve colleagues, students and members of the public with STFC science, technology and facilities


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 between 24 and 36 months.

Funding available

The FEC of your project can be up to £225,000.

STFC will fund 80% of the FEC.

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

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 fellow 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

Select ‘Start application’ near the beginning of this Funding finder page.

  1. Confirm you are the fellow.
  2. Sign in or create a Funding Service account. To create an account, select your organisation, verify your email address, and set a password. If your organisation is not listed, email
    Please allow at least 10 working days for your organisation to be added to the Funding Service.
  3. 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.
  4. Allow enough time to check your application in ‘read-only’ view before sending to your research office.
  5. Send the completed application to your research office for checking. They will return it to you if it needs editing.
  6. 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:

  • 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)
  • files must be 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:


Applications should be self-contained, and hyperlinks should only be used to provide links directly to reference information. To ensure the information’s integrity is maintained, where possible, persistent identifiers such as digital object identifiers should be used. Assessors are not required to access links to carry out assessment or recommend a funding decision. You should use your discretion when including reference and prioritise those most pertinent to the application.

Reference should be included in the appropriate question section of the application and be easily identifiable by the assessors, for example Smith, Research Paper, 2019.

You must not include links to web resources to extend your application.


We must receive your application by 7 May 2024 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

STFC, as part of UKRI, will publish the outcomes of this funding opportunity at board and panel 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 usually make this summary publicly available on external-facing websites, therefore do not include any confidential or sensitive information. Make it suitable for a variety of readers, for example:

  • opinion-formers
  • policymakers
  • the public
  • the wider research community

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:

  • fellow

Only list one individual as fellow.

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

Application questions


Word limit: 1,100

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
  • creates additional capacity and promotes wider advocacy for public engagement


  • a clearly defined rationale for the proposed programme and supporting evidence
  • that the engagement delivery aspect of the programme inspires and involves key target audiences, such as Wonder, with stories of STFC science, people, technology or facilities
  • the scale of your vision should be appropriate to your career stage. The spheres of influence and impact, and therefore the vision for the project, for early career applicants and those with more established careers will differ. For example, early career applicants may find it more appropriate to focus on capacity building in networks and communities of their peers whereas those in more senior roles should seek wider institutional or sectoral impact and influence by virtue of their greater experience

In the Vision section we also expect you to:

  • identify the potential direct or indirect benefits and who the beneficiaries might be


Word limit: 2,750

How are you going to deliver your proposed work?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Explain how you have designed your work so that it:

  • is effective and appropriate to achieve your objectives
  • is feasible, and comprehensively identifies any risks to delivery and how you will manage them
  • uses a clearly written and transparent methodology (if applicable)

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

References may be included within this section.

Within the Approach section we also expect you to:

  • provide a detailed and comprehensive project plan, including milestones and timelines in the form of a chart or diagram
  • describe how you would use previous experience to identify and develop public engagement opportunities and present these opportunities in a strategic context
  • demonstrate the ability to reflect upon your own role in a team, and how this will increase the effectiveness of a team in which you work
  • where relevant, include a detailed and appropriate plan for how you will acquire and manage data

Evaluation plan

Word limit: 800

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

What the assessors are looking for in your response

You will need to supply clear evidence of the following:

  • a detailed evaluation plan including methodology
  • how the evaluation is linked to the STFC public engagement evaluation framework
  • how wider audiences could benefit through activities such as sharing good practice or sharing learning, both during and beyond the period of the fellowship qualitative means of evaluating them

Applicant capability to deliver

Word limit: 2,500

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

What the assessors are looking for in your response

It is recognised that applicants to the opportunity will be at different points in their careers and so it is expected that the answers provided will be proportionate to your individual career stage.

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

Evidence how you have:

  • the relevant experience (appropriate to career stage) to make best use of the benefits presented by this funding opportunity to develop your career
  • the right balance of skills and aptitude to deliver the proposed work
  • contributed to developing a positive research environment and wider community
  • the appropriate team working or leadership skills (appropriate to career stage)

For this opportunity we also expect you to evidence how you have:

  • the relevant experience to deliver the proposed work
  • the right expertise to undertake extended programmes of high-quality public engagement
  • contributed to developing a positive working environment and wider community
  • the ability to establish or demonstrate yourself as a leading supporter of public engagement
  • the capability to act as an academic leader, proportionate to career stage, for engagement within your organisation
  • the ability to raise the profile of public engagement within your host organisation and professional communities
  • a demonstrable track record of research or technical achievement, including evidence of impact arising from your work
  • clear evidence of national or international standing within your field
  • experience of work in an STFC science area or be an STFC facilities user whose proposal prominently involves the work of the facilities
  • evidence of a deep and nuanced understanding of what constitutes high-quality public engagement
  • clear evidence of management or leadership in the planning and delivery of public engagement activities
  • worked in collaborative teams effectively

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

The word count for this section is 2,500 words, 2,000 words to be used for R4RI modules (including references) and, if necessary, a further 500 words for Additions.

Use the Résumé for Research and Innovation (R4RI) format to showcase the range of relevant skills you have and how this will help to deliver the proposed work. You can include specific achievements and choose past contributions that best evidence your ability to deliver this work.

Complete this section using the following R4RI module headings. You should use each heading once, see the UKRI guidance on R4RI. You should consider how to balance your answer, and emphasise where appropriate the key skills you bring:

  • contributions to the generation of new ideas, tools, methodologies, or knowledge
  • the development of others and maintenance of effective working relationships
  • contributions to the wider research and innovation community
  • contributions to broader research or innovation, users and audiences, and towards wider societal benefit

Additions: Provide any further details relevant to your application. This section is optional and can be up to 500 words. You should not use it to describe additional skills, experiences, or outputs, but you can use it to describe any factors that provide context for the rest of your R4RI (for example, details of career breaks if you wish to disclose them).

You should complete this section as a narrative. Do not format it like a CV.

Career development

Word limit: 1,000

Why is this fellowship the right way to develop your career and how will you use it to benefit others?

What the assessors are looking for in your response

Ensure that you have identified:

  • career development goals appropriate to the fellowship funding opportunity
  • how the fellowship will provide a feasible and appropriate trajectory for your personal development and to achieve your stated career development goals (as appropriate to your career stage and field)

For this opportunity we also expect you to have identified:

  • how you will instigate positive and lasting change in the host institution and appropriate professional networks
  • how the proposed work will provide a feasible and appropriate trajectory for you to acquire additional skills, like leadership, management and evaluation

Host organisation support

Word limit: 1,000

How will the host organisation support your fellowship?

What the assessors are looking for in your response
  • evidence detailing how the host will support you, as appropriate for your career development and the vision and approach of the fellowship
  • who you have engaged with in your host organisation (name and role)
  • how your professional environment will contribute to the success of the work, in terms of suitability of the host organisation and strategic relevance to the project
  • how the host organisation will ensure your time commitment to the fellowship is protected
  • what development and training opportunities are provided and how will they be part of a cohesive career development package tailored to your aims and aspirations
  • what financial or practical support, such as access to the appropriate services, facilities, infrastructure, or equipment, is being provided and how this strengthens your application

Resources and cost justification

Word limit: 1,000

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

Assessors are not looking for detailed costs or a line-by-line breakdown of all project resources. 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

Ethics and responsible research and innovation (RRI)

Word limit: 500

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

Project partners

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 research. 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

Upload a single PDF containing the letters or emails of support from each partner you named in the Project partners section. These should be uploaded in English or Welsh only.

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

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 Project partners section.

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

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

We will assess your application using the following process.

Peer review

We will invite peers 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.


We will review the comments and scores for each application. Shortlisted applications will go to a panel who will make a funding recommendation.

If your application is shortlisted, you will have 14 days to respond to reviewers’ comments.


For shortlisted applications, 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 June 2024. The interview will comprise a 10 minute presentation by the applicant followed by a question and answer session with the panel, lasting up to 30 minutes.

STFC will make the final funding decision.


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


We will give feedback 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.

We reserve the right to modify the assessment process as needed.

Assessment areas

The assessment areas we will use are:

  • vision
  • approach
  • evaluation
  • applicant capability to deliver
  • career development
  • host organisation support
  • ethics and responsible research and innovation (RRI)
  • resources and costs 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 UK Research and Innovation (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

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

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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