Grand Challenges Small Grants Scheme


  • This scheme is not intended for support of studies in basic sciences, or research that is exclusively or mainly lab-based
  • The scheme will fund activities in the 12-month period 1 August 2015 - 31 July 2016. After 31 July 2016 the funding will expire. No exceptions will be made
  • Activities should be completed by 30 September 2016

Small Grants Advice Line

If you have any queries, please fill in our online enquiry form

Small Grants Enquiry Form


1 What do we fund?

What we fund

The four Grand Challenges are Global HealthSustainable CitiesIntercultural Interaction and Human Wellbeing. Relevant applications should be made to one of these.

We fund activities which:

  • Involve applicants from two or more fields of expertise (ie are genuinely cross-disciplinary)
  • Involve applicants based in different UCL faculties/departments
  • Address questions of societal importance
  • Produce new insights and impacts both within our university and beyond it in wider society
  • Are not studies in basic science, or research that is exclusively or mainly lab-based

Typically funding can be for (but not limited to):

  • A specific activity, eg a pilot study or development of an application for the funding of a major research project, which may require research assistant time (NB HEFCE staff cost replacement is not eligible)
  • Conferences, seminars, workshops, symposia or public engagement activities (including performance-based or art installations) with clear outcomes and impacts
  • Collaborative activities undertaken during a sabbatical period spent at UCL

2. What don't we fund?

What we don't fund

We do not fund the following activities:

  • Studies in basic science or research that is exclusively lab-based
  • Where the main purpose of the application is to attend an overseas conference
  • Article processing charges
  • Activities which will incur costs after 31 July 2016. Use of awarded funds cannot be deferred to a later period
  • Extension of previous small grants activity
  • HEFCE staff cost replacement

3. What do we mean by impact?

How we define impact

 ‘Impact’ may be achieved through diverse means, including:

  • scholarly publications
  • developments in teaching
  • knowledge transfer and research translation
  • novel methodologies and techniques
  • new research partnerships
  • outcome of pilot studies as bases for further grant-supported work
  • public engagement
  • community engagement
  • policy engagement
  • international development
  • developments in professional training and practice
  • entrepreneurial initiatives

Click here to find out more about impact and the Grand Challenges

4. Who is eligible to apply?


All applications must be led by First and Second Applicants from different departments whose period of employment will enable them to complete the activities detailed in the key dates 2015/16 section. They will be expected to have contributed equally to the proposal, and be similarly committed to the delivery of the proposed activity.

  • First Applicant: UCL academic staff (Lecturer level or above)
  • Second Applicant: UCL academic staff (Lecturer level or above) or UCL non-academic staff
  • Additional Collaborator(s) can be from within or beyond UCL (see further notes on eligibility)
We encourage:
  • Applicants who have not worked together previously
  • Applicants who are based in different UCL faculties
  • Applications led by, or involving, early career researchers at UCL (e.g. recently appointed lecturers or Research Council-funded senior fellows) 
  • Applications involving Arts & Humanities staff
Eligibility in detail

Applications may include, as Additional Collaborators:

  • other UCL academic or non-academic staff or students (undergraduate or postgraduate)
  • UCL post-doctoral research assistants and associates
  • academic partners (at other UK or overseas universities)
  • a collaborator based at an institution with which UCL has a major strategic link, e.g. the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Institute of Zoology, Yale University, the Max Planck Society, INSERM
  • external non-academic partners (e.g. a non-governmental or community-based organisations, private or public sector organisations)

Funds may be used to meet staff costs or salaries (but not to replace UCL HEFCE staff costs/salaries, or to pay bench fees 

5. What are our areas of interest?

Areas of interest

Applicants are welcome to submit proposals addressing any issue that they believe to be of compelling importance, but may wish to note that the following themes are of particular current interest in Grand Challenges:

  • Global Health: Vulnerable Populations, Africa
  • Sustainable Cities: The University in the City, London
  • Intercultural Interaction: Belief, Civilisation
  • Wellbeing: Inequality, Ageing

Cross-cutting themes of interest in all four Grand Challenges:

  • Prosperity
  • Youth
  • Climate Change
  • Education
  • Public Policy
  • Technology

6. Can you offer advice on my application?

Advice line

As part of the application process, you may contact the UCL Grand Challenges team with your initial idea, and ask for specific advice to improve your application. While use of the Advice Line is not a requirement, it is encouraged. 

At the very least, the Advice Line can help you avoid making an ineligible application. And because Grand Challenge Coordinators are familiar with the research landscape relevant to their Grand Challenge, if desired they can put you in touch with other researchers who may be able to contribute to your activity. Successful Small Grants applicants have benefited from their advice in the past. 

Submit a query to the Advice Line

7. What are our reporting requirements?

Reporting requirements

Award recipients will be required to complete an online Impacts Report in April 2017.

8. What are the key dates in 2015/16?

20 April 2015 Launch of Small Grants Scheme and Advice Line
Midnight, 15 June 2015 Deadline for applications
Week beginning 13th July 2015 Successful applications announced
By 30 September 2015 First applicant provides departmental account code for transfer of award
31 July 2016 Funds expire
End of September 2016 Completion of activities and impact reports

9. Terms and conditions

Application forms must be completed in full using the online form. Submission will require tick-box acceptance of the following conditions:

Terms and conditions

  • I have read the guidance notes.
  • I meet the eligibility criteria.
  • I understand it will not be possible to give detailed individual feedback to unsuccessful applicants.
  • If successful, I, or my Financial Administrator, will forward a Project, Task Award (PTA) combination to the Grand Challenges office by 30 September 2015 so that the necessary transfer of funds can be made. [If an appropriate PTA has not been received by this date, it will be assumed that you do not wish to proceed with the activities described in your application.] The PTA is required to be a particular award type: 156425 PS-Grand Challenges
  • I understand that allocated funds will expire immediately after 31 July 2016. I understand that costs associated with my application will be met by this date, that the Grand Challenges office cannot meet costs incurred after this date, and that the use of awarded funds cannot be deferred to a later period.
  • I understand that the Grand Challenges office cannot manage awarded funds on my behalf, and that this will be the responsibility of the department that receives the funds.
  • I understand that activities should be completed by 30 September 2016.
  • If successful, I understand that I will be expected to submit an initial Impact Report in April 2017.
  • If successful, I understand that I will be expected to acknowledge the support that I have received from Grand Challenges in promotional materials related to the supported activities, and in attributable publications

Once an application has been submitted you will receive automatic email confirmation. If you do not receive confirmation please contact the small grants advice line.

Applications will be assessed by panels comprising staff of Office of the Vice-Provost (Research) and representatives from the UCL Grand Challenge Executive Group or Steering Group.

Once you have read these guidance notes, please use the online form to submit an application for Small Grants funding.

Apply for Small Grants Funding

Page last modified on 03 aug 15 14:02