Blue spark shape

Application process

Woman smiling 1

Expressions of Interest for our second round of grants have now closed, but you can find out more about our our new process below.

In 2021, The Ideas Fund awarded grants to its first projects, connecting communities with researchers to work together on mental wellbeing projects. You can read about The story so far and you can read more about those Round One projects. Grant sizes in Round One ranged from £12,000 to £91,000, with projects being delivered over a period of up to 18 months.

For this round, we did not ask applicants to apply with a project ready to fund. Instead, we wanted to know about your early ideas, how interested you were in working in partnership and what you hoped to get out of being matched and funded through The Ideas Fund.

How did it work and what did the process involve?

We changed our application process based on feedback and learning from our first round, to reduce time for applicants and enable our local Development Coordinators to offer more in-depth support to shortlisted proposals.

The steps of the process are explained in more detail below with an estimated timeline.

Expression of Interest

Rather than a full application, we requested Expressions of Interest (EOI) from both community groups and researchers interested in the process of working in partnership and developing a project together.

The EOI asked for base line information about you or your group, your motivations for putting in an EOI, areas you’re interested in and how you feel about working with a partner.

We asked slightly different questions in the EOI depending on whether you're a researcher, a community group or are applied as a partnership. You can find copies of the questions in the links below:

EOI questions for communities

EOI questions for researchers

EOI questions for existing community/researcher partnerships

The deadline for community groups and existing partnerships was midday on 8 June 2022. We are still taking Expressions of Interest from Researchers. When you’re ready you can apply via this link

We also held a number of national webinars and local sessions run by our Development Coordinators. You can read more about this and find a recording of the national webinar here.


End of June / July 2022

  • After the deadline, the EOIs from community groups were shortlisted using the criteria outlined below. This shortlisting was ‘place-based’ and involved a range of stakeholders specific to each area. The shortlisted groups were announced in early August - you can read more about them here.
  • The Ideas Fund shortlisted seven community groups per area who will now be offered the opportunity to be matched with a researcher and will be given a small grant of £3,000 to further develop their idea in partnership with the researcher. We wanted to ensure that community groups and researchers provided enough information to allow good decisions to be made at shortlisting but also that the time required to complete the EOI is as short as possible.

The following criteria was used to determine which community group EOIs to shortlist.

The Ideas Fund:

  • Prioritised applications from community groups who work with people often overlooked by this type of funding, for example those in in rural communities, young people, or people from minoritised ethnic groups.
  • Sought to support innovative ideas that focus on improving mental wellbeing in accessible and inclusive ways, with lived experience central to the project.
  • Prioritised applications from groups embedded within communities, where the community is supported to lead activities, and/or the work is led by people with personal experience of the challenges faced by the people they work with.
  • Ensured that those shortlisted will be able to commit to the process and time involved in building the relationship with the researcher (see Am I eligible?’)
  • Sought to support groups that are interested and open to working collaboratively a researcher, even if not confident or unsure what this may look like in practice.
  • Aimed for a diverse range of projects to be shortlisted, taking account of what we have already funded in the first round.

For community groups not shortlisted: Those community groups not shortlisted but who are willing for their information to be shared, will be connected to other opportunities which could include other sources of funding, connection to researchers via university partners or connection to other local networks.

For existing partnerships: Community groups and researchers who are already connected and applying as an existing partnership and don’t need any support to be ‘matched’ can also apply through the expression of interest form and will be shortlisted using the same criteria as above.


July 2022

  • We will shortlist community groups after the deadline, and put them in touch with a few local researchers who have submitted an EOI and have relevant interests or skills. We will support shortlisted community groups to connect with researchers and have introductory conversations, either online or in person, to explore ideas and to decide whether it feels like a good fit.
  • We think its unlikely that every researcher will be matched through this process. If you're not, we will still explore ways to share your details with other applicants to The Fund so that partnerships could be developed outside of The Ideas Fund process.
  • We will only be able to facilitate the space for community groups that are shortlisted to match with a researcher. However, we will ask for your permission in the EOI to share your details and interests with other researchers, funders or partners even if you're not shortlisted, so you might be able to match outside of The Ideas Fund process or connect to other opportunities.

Development or "incubator" process

July 2022 Onwards

  • We know from our learning on the last round of The Ideas Fund that once matched, having time, space and support in the process for each partner to get to know each other, build trust and develop your idea, is important. We call this the ‘incubator’ or development phase and it is supported by the local Development Coordinators for each area.
  • Once a community group has been matched with a researcher, they will be awarded a £3,000 grant to further develop the idea in partnership with the researcher. Some of this grant can be used to remunerate the researcher for their time.
  • During the development phase, the community group and researcher will work together to develop a project proposal for further funding.

Once ready you will have the opportunity to apply for a larger grant to run your project:

September 2022 onwards

  • At this point we hope both community group and researcher have started to build a relationship and project idea to take forward. We also hope you have built a good relationship with The Ideas Fund team, and we can have discussions together about the level of funding you will ask for when you apply for a larger and longer grant (e.g., £25,000 over 12 months). Grant sizes in Round One ranged from £12,000 to £91,000.

Please see our FAQs for more information about what a larger Ideas Fund grant can and cannot be used for.

Support and Accessibility

  • We want to make this process accessible to everyone. We ask that you don’t hesitate to contact us with an accessibility request/s at any stage of the process.
  • We also have an FAQs page full of questions we often get asked here and we are a friendly team who are always happy to talk things through. Please find several ways to contact The Ideas Fund team below.

To contact The Ideas Fund team at the British Science Association:

General Ideas Fund email:

For enquires about the programme:

  • Jill, Grants Manager (Oldham, Northern Ireland):
  • Kirsty, Grants Manager (Hull, Highlands and Islands):
  • Chris, Head of Grants:

Area support (Development Coordinators):

  • Oldham: Paolo Arru,
  • North West Northern Ireland: Roisin McLaughlin,
  • Hull: Kate McDonald,
  • Highlands and Islands: Lewis Hou,