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New £15 million fund for ambitious research projects to change society

By Nuffield Foundation

We are calling for applications to our new £15m Strategic Fund for ambitious, interdisciplinary research projects that will address some of the most important challenges facing UK society and the public policy agenda in the next decade.

This is a rare opportunity for researchers to develop original and challenging ideas, to work collaboratively across disciplines, and to influence social policy in a period of rapid change and uncertainty for our society.

Through the Strategic Fund, we will make awards in the range of £1-3 million – increasing the scale, scope and influence of the research we fund. We encourage applications from universities, research institutes, think tanks and voluntary organisations. Our priorities are for multidisciplinary projects with the potential for lasting and significant impact. We will work with our grant-holders to make that happen. 

Applications will open on 1 October 2019 and we will phase funding over two years, with applications accepted at any point during that time. We will have fixed points during this period for assessment and shortlisting of initial outline applications, the first of which will be 9 December 2019. For applicants who want to do some initial exploration of ideas, we are also providing the opportunity to apply for seed corn funding.

We encourage applications relating to a number of broad themes, set out in our call for applications. These themes include the impact of digital technologies and the fourth industrial revolution, the future of education in a digitally-driven society, and interventions that might promote opportunity and reduce adversity at different life stages and between generations. Our listed themes are not exhaustive, and we welcome applications on other themes that align with our mission to advance social well-being.

We are looking for applications that demonstrate a rigorous approach to research while at the same time articulating distinctive questions that will connect with a range of audiences. We want to give opportunities to a new generation of the best research talent, to encourage innovative methods and involvement with people outside academic research in policy, frontline service delivery, and the voluntary sector.

If you are interested in applying to our Strategic Fund, you should first read the call for applications, and then register your interest to receive email updates and reminders about key dates and other information, including publication of full guidance for applicants in September. 


The Nuffield Foundation champions rigorous research that influences public policy and improves social well-being and individuals’ lives. We want to encourage really ambitious projects that require the perspectives of different academic disciplines to re-frame the social policy agenda in the next decade. As an independent funder, our strength lies in our ability to give talented thinkers the freedom to develop original research ideas. We want to look back in five or ten years’ time and see the influence of our Strategic Fund projects and their impact in addressing the most pressing issues in our society.” Tim Gardam, Chief Executive of the Nuffield Foundation

Key dates for the Nuffield Foundation Strategic Fund

  • 20 August 2019 Applications open for seed corn funding
  • September 2019 Full guidance published for applicants to the Strategic Fund
  • 1 October 2019 Applications open for submission of outline applications to the Strategic Fund
  • 9 December 2019 First round of assessment and shortlisting of applications
  • July 2020 First round of awards from the Strategic Fund
By Nuffield Foundation

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We improve people’s lives by funding research that informs social policy, primarily in EducationWelfare and Justice. We also fund student programmes that give young people skills and confidence in science and research.

We offer our grant-holders the freedom to frame questions and enable new thinking. Our research must stand up to rigorous academic scrutiny, but we understand that to be successful in effecting change, it also needs to be relevant to people’s experience.