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Finding research funding

This section provides information on the types of research funding available and how to identify the right type of grant for a project. There are always new funding schemes and short-term calls, so these pages are not designed to be definitive, rather to offer support on navigating the options.

It is useful to be aware of the regular open calls aimed at your area, as well as the larger interdisciplinary calls, even if you are still in the early stages. Often research ideas and projects need to be tailored and adjusted to meet the specific remit of the funder, to maximise success. The application form, terms and conditions of a call are only available when it is open, so for regular calls, it can be prudent to download a blank form in readiness for when the next call opens. 

  • Understanding the sort of grant you need: seed or project or fellowship?

Seed grants: usually small grants, for a shorter duration and smaller financial value than project grants, intended to either deliver a small project or allow you to develop collaborations and research activities that might themselves go on to form the basis of larger, longer-term research grants in the future (with the same funder or others).

Project grants: designed to cover the costs associated with teams of researchers involved in a project, including some of the Principal Investigator's time and specific Postdoctoral Researchers or Research Assistants hired for that project to deliver specific activities/outcomes, and associated research costs such as travel, consumables, conferences, etc.

Fellowships: normally to cover the costs of teaching replacement for an individual researcher, allowing them a period of time to focus on the development or completion of a specific piece of research; Fellowships often include some (nominal) research allowance. 

These are the three main types of grant, however there are several others including prizes, networking grants, bursaries and philanthropic gifts - if in doubt on the suitability of a particular scheme, please contact 

  • Who is leading: York St John or externally-led?

Project grants can often involve co-applicants from different institutions, or you may be invited to be a co-applicant on an externally-led bid. Collaborative bids are a fantastic way to build research networks and experience. It is important to consult the Research Office to ensure your involvement is properly costed and ensure any contracting queries are answered ahead of submission. 

  • Matching career stage to call: early career or experienced PI?

Many calls are targeted specifically at a certain stage of academic career. Funders will always consider the suitability of the Principal Investigator to lead the bid and seek demonstrable experience of delivering successful outcomes. Seeking funding best matched to your experience, considering mentoring and utilising external networks can all maximise the chances of success. 

York St John has a subscription to IDOX Grantfinder. This software is extremely useful to run tailored searches specific to a research area and career stage. It's important to have a quick tutorial before being added as a user, as the news alerts and updates can cause a high volume of emails to the inexperienced user. 

If you would like to run a one-off tailored search for funding, or become a user so you can search independently, contact the Research Officer for Grants on

Research Councils

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) works in partnership with universities, businesses, charities and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish. Operating across the whole of the UK with a combined budget of more than £6 billion, UKRI brings together the seven Research Councils, Innovate UK and Research England. 

This funding is often referred to as the 'gold standard' of research income, as it returns at 80-100% FEC. 

Global Challenges Research Fund

The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) is a £1.5 billion fund announced by the UK Government in late 2015 to support cutting-edge research that addresses the challenges faced by developing countries. It has multiple calls open, often with short response times. 

The British Academy  

The British Academy is the UK’s national body for the humanities and social sciences – the study of peoples, cultures and societies, past, present and future.

Arts Council England

Arts Council England is a government-funded body dedicated to promoting the performing, visual and literary arts in England.

Royal Academy of Engineering

The Royal Academy of Engineering offers funding to advance and promote excellence in engineering for the benefit of society.

The Royal Society

The Royal Society is the independent scientific academy of the UK and the Commonwealth, funding excellent in science. 

National Institute for Health Research 

NIHR is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. 


The key aim of research charities is to generate knowledge that benefits the public good. Charities provide an important independent stream of research funding. There are hundreds of research funding charities covering a wide range of aims. All are regulated by charity law and are required to adhere to certain obligations and restrictions on the use of charitable funds for research, e.g. the requirement to disseminate research findings and a prohibition on funding research for the purpose of commercial or private gain. 

Other funding 

  • BASES - The British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences offers funding for innovative research, conference attendance. 
  • WADA - World Anti-Doping Agency offering funding for scientific and social science research. 
  • The British Psychological Society - recognising excellence in research, practice teaching and education in psychology.

Most funding bodies utilise online application portals to accept their funding applications. Most application portals require users to register, and some will request CV information. This can be worth doing, even if you are not intending to apply imminently, as once a call is open the more prepared you are the better. It is important to log-in to the portals as early as possible and complete the standard information, however, as all portals are hosted online, it is good practice to download a blank form and prepare your application offline to avoid loss of data. 

The Research Office can support with financial data entry into portals and answer any queries relating to requirements of the application portals. Once an application has the approval to submit from York St John, and the Principal Investigator presses submit, it will go for institutional approval. This institutional approval is provided by the Research Office. 

Some portals will be designed to have the whole submission contained within the system, others will require some supporting documents to be uploaded. It is vital to read and understand each funding call's requirements, even if you have applied to that funder before, as they may change. 

For support and queries, please contact the Research Officer for Grants: 

Major funding portals: 

  • Je-S

Joint Electronic Submissions. This portal is used by all the Research Councils. It usually uses a standard application form with a specific list of attachments, tailored to each call. New accounts require administrator approval, so worth creating an account as standard. 

  • Flexi-Grant 

The Flexi-Grant portal is used by The British Academy and the Royal Society. It is a self-contained portal, only occasionally requiring additional uploads. 

  • CC Grant Tracker

This Grant Management System is tailored for use by Wellcome Trust and Leverhulme Trust, various charities including Diabetes UK and Asthma UK, and some calls under NIHR.

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