Blue spark shape

Application now open and reflections so far

07.04.21 By Beth-Louise Sturdee

Yellow spark shape

It’s strange to think that the first of The Ideas Fund webinars was less than eight weeks ago! We talked then about how the Fund was focusing on a new way of supporting communities to work with researchers, including trialling a supported application journey. Having launched the application form this week, it feels like a good time to share some reflections and what we’ve learned so far.

The value of the collaborative approach

The level of interest in the Fund has been fantastic, with over 500 people joining our central webinars and more than 600 further views on our YouTube channel. Local workshops have also been well attended and we've had lots of feedback about how people have really valued the opportunity to discuss their ideas and get feedback prior to starting to work on their application. We’ve also discovered how the opportunities for applicants to meet with others in their area have helped to spark ideas for working together both within and outside of The Ideas Fund process, which feels like a great added bonus.

Time commitment

We’ve tried to design the application approach so that support is on hand as you need it, and to hopefully try to remove the need to try and second guess what the Fund is looking to achieve so that you can decide whether it feels like a good fit for you. We’ve heard that some people are finding it difficult to attend everything – we’d love to hear your feedback on the whether the number and content of the workshops has been helpful, or if there are ways this could be improved. Just as a reminder, you don’t need to join every workshop to apply, so do feel free to work with your Development Coordinator in whatever way feels most helpful!

Understanding the role of the researcher

We’re interested to see whether this supported approach leads to stronger applications to the Fund, and the conversations so far have helped identify that applicants have lots of questions about what the role of a researcher could be, and would also like support in being connected – almost 50% of responses to our polls at the end of the central webinars suggested you’d like help working with researchers. Many people may not have considered doing this before; we’ve heard some great examples in the workshops of the benefits of when communities and researchers work together and increasing opportunities for people to do this is a key aspect of the Fund.

So, don’t worry if you don’t have time to have fully formed ideas about how you will work together at the time you submit your application. We expect to support people in working together for the first time, particularly through our early-stage grants, and for those making first connections with researchers now, we recognise there isn’t lots of time to develop your thoughts before the application deadline on 14 May. Our Development Coordinators will be in place to support the grants that are awarded, and we can be flexible with plans changing or things not quite going to plan. In fact, the learning from this is one of the things we’re interested in!

Next steps

We hope you find the application form simple and clear, and don’t forget that the deadline is midday on 14 May. Shortly after the deadline, you’ll be invited to share your thoughts about what has and hasn’t worked in the process – so we’d love it if you could respond to that. And if you have any other comments in the meantime do reach out to us at or via your Development Coordinator.

We can’t wait to see what ideas come forward!