Where to gain funding
There are many different ways to gain funding for your research in the UK. There are specialised councils operating in the UK that offer grants and fellowships, alongside Europe wide initiatives offering opportunities in various scientific fields.
Funding in the UK
The Research Councils are the main public investors in fundamental research in the UK, with interests ranging from arts and humanities to particle physics. The seven Research Councils work together through UK Research and Innovation.
UKRI has information about international funding opportunities (ranging from travel to long-term collaborative grants) from the Research Councils.
UKRI offers funding opportunities from a range of different fields:
- Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
- Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
- Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
- Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC)
- Medical Research Council (MRC)
- Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
- Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)
Other funding opportunities in the UK
There are also plenty of other ways to gain funding from institutions in the UK. Learned societies, charitable organisations and professional bodies all offer opportunities to complete scientific research.
Learned Societies and Academies
Learned societies and academies promote research in specific subject areas through academic publications, funding opportunities, conferences and membership. Some also act as professional bodies by offering accreditation.
The Royal Society is the national academy of science for the UK and the Commonwealth, whose elected fellows are scientists, engineers and technologists.
The Royal Academy of Engineering brings together the country’s most eminent engineers from all disciplines to promote excellence in the science, art and practice of engineering.
The Royal Society of Edinburgh is Scotland’s National Academy of Science & Letters, providing support for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and arts and humanities.
The Academy of Medical Sciences aims to promote translation of biomedical research advances into benefits for people.
The Royal Geographical Society is the learned society and professional body for geography.
The British Science Association exists to advance the public understanding, accessibility and accountability of the sciences and engineering in the UK.
The Edinburgh Geological Society aims to stimulate public interest in geology and the advancement of geological knowledge.
The Royal Astronomical Society is the UK's leading professional body for astronomy and astrophysics, geophysics, solar and solar-terrestrial physics, and planetary sciences.
The UK charitable organisations below support research and education, particularly in the field of medical research. These NGOs, foundations and trusts offer private sources of funding, such as endowments from private benefactors or the commercial profits of companies set aside to support research.
AMRC represents the leading UK charities that fund medical and health research. It has a
searchable database of member organisations and provides information on specific
funding opportunities. It has over 100 member organisations, including Cancer
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation is one of the UK’s largest social policy research and
development, which seeks to understand and overcome the causes of social difficulties
through partnership with academic and other institutions.
The Leverhulme Trust supports research and education in all subject areas, with grants
and awards including visiting fellowships, early career development fellowships and
research project grants.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation works to bring ‘innovations in health and learning
to the global community,’ providing financial support for international research in key
global health priority areas.
NESTA supports talent, innovation and creativity in the UK in order to improve the UK’s
capacity for innovation. NESTA runs competitions and prizes, and invests in promising
early-stage companies, as well as in shaping innovation policy and sharing best practice.
A professional association or society in the UK is an organisation created by a Royal Charter to support a profession and ensure that professional standards are upheld. Many offer accreditation via membership which is required for the practice of certain professions, such as medicine. While these professional bodies all provide some type of support, they do not all necessarily provide funding.
The Bar Council is the professional body for barristers in England and Wales. It provides
representation and services for the Bar, and guidance on issues of professional practice.
The Biochemical Society is a learned society for biochemistry, including cellular & molecular biosciences, with Over 7000 members Worldwide.
The British Psychological Society is the representative body for psychology and psychologists in the UK.
The General Medical Council registers doctors to practice medicine in the UK. Its purpose is to protect, promote and maintain the health and safety of the public by ensuring proper standards in the practice of medicine.
IChemE is an international membership organization for people with an interest and
experience in chemical engineering.
The Institute of Physics is a scientific organisation devoted to increasing the
understanding and application of physics.
The IET represents the engineering and technology community.
The Law Society of Scotland is the governing body for Scottish solicitors.
The RCVS is the regulatory body for veterinary surgeons in the UK.
The RCGPs is a professional membership body for UK family doctors.
Download the Sources for funding in the UK document below to learn more about the institutions that could help start your research career in the UK.
Sources for funding in the UK (205.69 KB)
International funding opportunities
The European Research Council(ERC) supports researchers of any nationality or age to do fundamental research in any of the 27 EU member states or associated countries.
ERC publishes calls for applications from researchers at early, middle and advanced levels of independent research. These last for up to 5 years and are for any research field, including social sciences and the humanities.
The European Science Foundation (ESF) is committed to facilitating co-operation and collaboration in European research, which it does through mechanisms such as supporting conferences, networks, workshops and programmes.
EMBO nurtures careers in the biosciences through courses, workshops, conferences, fellowships, and the Young Investigator Programme, which promotes Europe’s best young scientists early in their careers.
The HFSP supports novel, innovative and interdisciplinary basic research focused on the complex mechanisms of living organisms.
A clear emphasis is placed on novel collaborations that bring biologists together with scientists from fields such as physics, mathematics, chemistry, computer science and engineering to open new fields of investigation in the life sciences.
Research grants and fellowships are available from the post-doctoral level upwards, for young scientists of any nationality to work in the UK, other EU countries, Australia, Canada, Japan, The Republic of Korea, Switzerland or the USA.
The NATO Programme for Science for Peace and Security offers support for scientific collaboration in the priority research areas of threats to security, including terrorism and other country-specific priorities.
The World Universities Network (WUN) is an international alliance of leading higher-education institutions. It disperses support through an Annual Research Fund and runs a Research Mobility Programme to enable postgraduate and junior faculty to study overseas and establish links with WUN partners in Europe, the USA and China.
Santander supports researcher mobility between participating institutions in South America, Asia and Europe, including to and from the UK. Grants include International Mobility Grants and National Mobility Grants, as well as funding for higher education and internships for undergraduates and graduates to gain experience with Small to Medium Enterprises.