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Understanding Wellcome: Crafting a successful application

In this post Al Innes and Jonathan Rans, from the ERO Strategic Research Development Team, share hints and tips for getting funded by Wellcome. They also highlight our new Understanding Wellcome resource, which brings together insights from Wellcome award holders and expert panel members.

Wellcome offers a wide range of flexible funding schemes that give researchers scope to take calculated risks to carry out innovative research. Consequently, they can often be a difficult funder to get a handle on and their schemes are highly competitive. To help support you, we have curated a set of resources harnessing expertise and insights from award holders and expert panel members here at the University of Edinburgh. Our aim is to help applicants better understand Wellcome as a funder, and the opportunities available.

Wellcome funds a variety of research disciplines, from applied science to arts and humanities. The committees that make Wellcome’s decisions are from a range of backgrounds – often the only thing that unites them is an interest in health.

The information shared in our resource is appropriate for academic researchers in any discipline and demonstrates the quality and environment that Wellcome funding applications require to be competitive, irrespective of the disciplinary areas involved.

We also share recordings from our recent information event, featuring insights and advice from Wellcome Panel members and award holders about Wellcome’s unique funding culture. Speakers share details of their own funding backgrounds and hints and tips for crating your own application to Wellcome.

Open the conversation

Although Wellcome’s appetite for risk varies with their different schemes, they are an approachable funder who will often provide feedback to you at the ideas stage. Although their schemes are highly competitive, that shouldn’t put the right candidate off applying. If you are considering applying to Wellcome, it might be useful to reflect on the following questions when putting together your application:

  • What are they looking for in a successful application?
  • What is the review process?
  • Who makes the decisions?

In the video below, Professor Dónal O’Carroll provides an overview of the panel that will review your application and gives tips on how to craft a more persuasive application.

Go longer, think shorter

Wellcome is now specifically supporting longer awards (typically, over eight years rather than the five years they and other funders have traditionally resourced). This will impact how you will set out your research ambitions when writing your application, but bear in mind that reviewers tend to focus on the first five years of the project. Coupled with lack of space in the bid documents, it is sensible for applicants to pitch the detail of the first five years.

In our video below, Professor Sarah Reece gives more detail on how to consider this in your application. Her reflections also include a discussion on the structure of the application and the stages of evaluation of an application.

What can I do next?

Keep an eye on Wellcome’s funding opportunities page for calls that could support your research.

If you are considering an application to Wellcome, get in touch with your local and central research professional services who can advise you on crafting your bid.

Our Understanding Wellcome resource page will be updated with new materials so remember to bookmark it and check back in.

About the Authors

Al Innes is Research Development Officer in Edinburgh Research Office. Read Al’s previous blog posts.

Jonathan Rans is Strategic Research Executive in Edinburgh Research Office. Read Jonathan’s previous blog posts.



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