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Investigator Awards

Funding for world-class researchers and clinicians with a compelling long-term vision for their research.

On 12 December 2014, we hosted a webinar to provide an overview of Science Investigator Awards and answer questions from potential applicants. Watch a recording of the Investigator Awards webinar.

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Purpose

The Trust has combined its New Investigator and Senior Investigator Award schemes to create a single type of Investigator Award, providing all who hold established posts in eligible organisations with the same opportunity to obtain funding.

Investigator Awards provide flexible support at a level and length appropriate to enable researchers to address the most important questions of relevance to human and animal health and disease. Awards may be small or large, but you should set out a compelling case for your research, while ensuring that your proposal and requested funding are appropriate to your experience to date and distinct from other research income that you may already hold.

Because a research career develops over time, your application will be judged relative to your career stage.

If you are in the early stages of your independent career, you should be able to show that you can innovate and drive advances in your field of study and demonstrate considerable promise for the future. Your research, funding and training track records should be strong relative to your career stage.

If you have more experience, you are expected to have achieved more in terms of the originality and impact of your research, your track record of attracting research grant support, and your success in training and mentoring others. If you are a senior researcher, you should be internationally recognised as a leader in your field.

You are strongly encouraged to contact the Trust if you wish to discuss your proposal or your suitability for this scheme before applying.

Find out more about the application and award numbers and success rates for the scheme, and see details of Investigator Award recipients and the areas they are working in.

What's included

An Investigator Award provides a flexible package of funding that is driven by the requirements of the proposed research.

Awards may be small or large, typically up to £3 million, and lasting up to seven years. The duration and costs you request should be clearly justified by your proposed research. Also, you should ensure that the scope of your proposal and the associated resources are appropriate for your career stage and research experience.

If you already hold considerable research support, you will need to demonstrate that the Investigator Award will cover important and complementary studies that are distinct from the work that is already funded.

The award covers the direct costs of carrying out the research, such as:

The award does not include your salary costs. These must be provided by your host institution.

If you are employed at an eligible core-funded research institute, the research you propose for an Investigator Award should not replace activities already supported in that institute.

If you are successful, the exact costs to be awarded will be finalised with you after the funding decision is made and will depend on the recommendations of the Interview Panel. The final award will not exceed the total amount requested.

Please note that the Trust does not fund on a proportion of full economic costs (fEC) basis.

Specific funding is available to enable institutions to recruit exceptional scientists to the UK from overseas. The International Recruitment Supplement (IRS) is designed to be part of the Investigator Award, providing a competitive start-up package and covering some of the costs associated with an individual’s recruitment. If you want to make an application that includes IRS, you must speak to your proposed host institution and to us before submitting.

Successful applicants from outside the European Economic Area are encouraged to apply for entry to the UK via the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent and Exceptional Promise visa routes. In order to streamline the application process for these visas, the Trust is taking part in a pilot scheme for accelerated endorsement, in collaboration with the Designated Competent Bodies - the British Academy, the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering. For more information please contact tierone@wellcome.ac.uk.

Investigator Award holders may also have the opportunity to apply for future Enhancement funding.

Eligibility

To be eligible for an Investigator Award you must be based at an eligible higher education or research institution in the UK, Republic of Ireland or a low- or middle-income country. You should be employed in an established academic post: a permanent, open-ended or long-term rolling contract, salaried by your host institution.

You are also eligible if you have a written guarantee of an established academic post at your host institution, which you will take up by the start of the award.

Please contact us if you are unsure whether you are eligible (see 'Contacts').

If you are based in a low- or middle-income country in sub-Saharan Africa, South-east Asia or South Asia (with the exception of India - see below), you are eligible to apply if you fulfil the above eligibility criteria and are working within the Trust's broad science funding remit.

If you are based in a low- or middle-income country outside the areas mentioned above, you are eligible to apply only if you are carrying out research in the fields of public health and tropical medicine. Research projects should be aimed at understanding and controlling diseases (either animal or human) of relevance to local, national or global health. This can include laboratory-based molecular analysis of field or clinical samples, but projects focused solely on studies in vitro or using animal models will not normally be considered.

Investigator Awards are not available to researchers in India. Instead, please see the funding schemes offered by the Wellcome Trust/Department of Biotechnology India Alliance.

Other eligibility information

  • If you are employed at an eligible core-funded research institute the research you propose for an Investigator Award should be distinct from, and not replace, activities already supported in that institute.
  • We encourage applications from researchers who have worked in industry or other non-academic research environments, or who have taken career breaks. Time spent outside a research environment (full- or part-time) will be taken into account when assessing your application.
  • Royal Society and RCUK researchers may be eligible to apply and are advised to contact us.
  • Unsuccessful applicants will normally be expected to wait 12 months before resubmitting an application, and must first discuss their resubmission with us.
  • You may hold only one Investigator Award at any one time.

Joint applications

Joint applications are welcome from two researchers with complementary expertise working closely together on a shared proposal. Please contact us for advice before completing your application form.

Suitability

Investigator Awards are prestigious awards that support researchers with strong track records, relative to their career stage and experience, who will address the most important questions of relevance to human and animal health and disease.

Because a research career develops over time, applicants with more experience are expected to have achieved more and to have a more established record demonstrating the importance, originality and impact of their work.

If you are in the early stages of your independent research career, you should have already shown that you can innovate and drive advances in your field of study and demonstrate considerable promise for the future. Ideally, you will:

  • have a strong track record in research, relative to the stage of your career and research experience to date
  • have published significant intellectual contributions to research
  • have begun to forge an international reputation for excellence in your field
  • show evidence of achievement as an independent researcher in your chosen area - for example, by the award of research grant funding
  • have begun to establish a training record and experience of coaching or mentoring less experienced researchers.

For the most senior researchers, depending on your experience to date, we expect that you will:

  • be an internationally recognised research leader in your field
  • have made significant contributions - demonstrated by a strong record of important publications or other outputs
  • have a track record of attracting significant research support from major funding bodies
  • have a strong training record supporting the development and mentorship of less experienced researchers.

Whatever your career stage, your application will be assessed relative to it.

Trust staff are happy to provide advice if you are unsure of your suitability for this scheme.

Host institution - what the Trust expects

The environment in which you will undertake your research and the nature of the support promised by your host institution are important factors when we are evaluating your application.

Your application must be accompanied by a statement of commitment on behalf of your host institution from the most senior authority in the relevant faculty, school or division. This should express:

  • why your institution considers that you merit an Investigator Award
  • how your institution will support you to ensure that the ambitions of your research proposal can be achieved
  • how your research proposal complements and addresses your institution's strategic aims and priorities.

The statement should also confirm:

  • the nature of your employment contract and its compliance with our eligibility criteria for an Investigator Award
  • the source of your salary for the duration of the award
  • availability of the additional space, facilities and infrastructure that you will need for the duration of the award
  • details of any support (financial, administrative, technical or other assistance) that your institution will commit to supporting the application.

Application process

Investigator Awards are made following a review process that includes an interview. You are strongly advised to ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria before applying - you can contact us at any time to discuss your proposal or suitability for the scheme.

The key stages of the application process are:

  • submission of an Investigator Award application form
  • scientific peer review by one of the Trust’s Expert Review Groups, which shortlist the candidates for interview
  • written peer review of shortlisted applications by external specialist referees, who will include members of the Trust’s Peer Review College; selected unattributed referee comments will be fed back to candidates before interview
  • interview of shortlisted candidates by our Interview Panel.

Application forms are available on eGrants, our electronic application system. Please refer to the Additional information for completing the Investigator Award form on eGrants, which provides an overview to help guide you through the application process.

Please see 'Deadlines' for details of the next application closing date.

Assessment criteria

Applications are considered based on:

  • the track record of the candidate relative to their career stage and research experience (any periods of part-time working, career breaks or time out of academic research are taken into consideration)
  • the candidate’s standing in the field
  • the quality and importance of the research question(s)
  • the approach to solving these questions
  • the feasibility of the proposal
  • the suitability of the research environment.

Unsuccessful applicants will not normally be allowed to resubmit within 12 months of the date of decision, and must first discuss any resubmission with us.

Deadlines

Applications are considered three times a year. Details of the next round:

  • Full application closing date: 20 February 2015
  • Shortlisting of candidates by Expert Review Group: April-May 2015
  • Shortlisted candidate interviews by Interview Panel: 7-9 July 2015

  • Next full application closing date: 17 July 2015
  • Shortlisting of candidates by Expert Review Group: September 2015
  • Shortlisted candidate interviews by Interview Panel: 2-4 December 2015

  • Next full application closing date: 6 November 2015
  • Shortlisting of candidates by Expert Review Group: January 2016
  • Shortlisted candidate interviews by Interview Panel: 5-7 April 2016

Schedule for full applications submitted to 14 November 2014 closing date:

Contacts

Enquiries may be emailed to sciencegrants@wellcome.ac.uk or telephone our Grants Information Desk: +44 (0)20 7611 5757.

See our postal address and general contact details.

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