Inspiration Awards 2019


The Inspiration Fund (now in its third year) is an exciting opportunity for seed-corn funding for small research projects. If you have an idea for a research project that does not “fit” the criteria for other funding opportunities, you can make an application to this year’s Inspiration Awards. Research Committee have a total of £20k to allocate, and this year will consider requests for a higher maximum budget.

Who is eligible to apply?

The short answer is all staff. We want the Inspiration Awards to be inclusive, so anyone can apply, provided that the project comes under the banner of research, and the applicant is employed by SoGE (the academic department, and the three centres: ECI, SSEE and TSU) and provided you have the support of your PI or line manager.

What can/cannot be funded?

We want applicants to be innovative in what they want to do (and for more inspiration on eligible activities. You can watch videos of the first Inspiration Award talks online. Applications can be for a completely new research activity, or can complement existing research i.e. an impact activity, an unusual workshop or event, the establishment of a network, etc. If associated with an existing research project the activity should have new elements, and can be associated with existing research on an ongoing project, so long as the activity is about ‘going the extra mile’.

Travel, consumables, casual staffing, hosting events are all examples of eligible costs. We cannot fund buy-outs or contract extensions, attendance at academic conferences, or activities where the Fell Fund is a more obvious funding source. We will apply some discretion however if the overall case is compelling!

Award size

Applications will normally be in the £2k-£4k range but sums up to £8k can be requested. For larger applications, please indicate what you could achieve with up to £4k, as we may need to offer reduced funding should demand be high. We would expect larger applications to be by more than one individual.


The research activity should start by the end of September 2019 and for fixed-term appointments, the project needs to be completed fully (ie carried out and a final report submitted) before a contract ends.


Applications must use the 'Inspiration Awards' proforma and be a maximum of one page. Please complete all section of the form (as the form is flexible the sections can be adapted in size to fit the needs of the application).


The application deadline is noon on Monday 29 April 2019 (Monday of Trinity Term, week 1).


Completed forms should be emailed to the SoGE Senior Research Support Officer who require PI/line manager agreement to apply must ask them to send an email of agreement by the deadline, otherwise the application will be invalid.


Applications will be assessed by members of the School’s Research Committee, with decisions communicated in Trinity Term.

Assessment criteria

The following are amongst the criteria assessors might apply when reviewing applications:

  • Urgency - a compelling case to do the work very soon
  • Innovation and novelty
  • Lack of alternative funding sources
  • Links to existing research: on the one hand, positive if grows out of something happening already, and goes beyond that activity, exploiting new and previously unrealised opportunity; on the other, less positive if is really just an extension of what a current piece of work was meant to do. Thus, something that represents a new and previously unforeseen opportunity/idea might be viewed highly, as might an impact activity that really extends the benefits and reach of a project, but was not realised at the outset of the research activity.
  • Benefits - are there good personal or department benefits presented in the proposal? Will the proposal open new doors or create opportunities etc?
  • Viability - can it be done well with the requested funds and in the time allocated?