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New Investigator Awards

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Purpose

The Wellcome Trust is particularly interested in receiving applications from university lecturers within the first five years of their independent research careers.

New Investigator Awards are intended to support strong researchers who are in the early stages of their independent research careers and have already shown that they can innovate and drive advances in their field of study. Candidates should be no more than five years from appointment to their first academic position.

These Awards provide flexible support at a level and length appropriate to enable the best researchers to address the most important questions about health and disease. Awards may equally be small or large, but candidates should be able to articulate a compelling vision for their research, while ensuring that their proposal and requested funding is appropriate to their research experience to date.

The research should contribute to the Wellcome Trust's vision to achieve extraordinary improvements in human and animal health, and the proposal should describe how it will address one or more of our five major challenges. These are set out in our ten-year Strategic Plan for 2010-2020.

Prospective applicants are encouraged to contact the Trust if they wish to discuss their proposal or their suitability for this scheme.

See the FAQs for more information about the scheme.

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

What's included

New Investigator Awards provide a flexible package of funding that is driven by the requirements of the proposed research.

An award can be worth anything up to £425k per year and for any duration up to a maximum of seven years. Requested costs should be suited to, and clearly justified by, the proposed research, and candidates should ensure that the scope of the proposal and the associated resources are appropriate for their career stage and research experience to date.

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.

The exact costs to be awarded will be finalised with successful applicants 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.

Additional 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 award, providing a competitive start-up package and covering some of the other costs associated with an individual’s recruitment. Candidates must speak to their host institution before submitting an application that includes IRS and this must also be discussed with the Trust in advance.

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

See the FAQs for more information about the scheme.

Eligibility

To be eligible for a New Investigator Award you should be based in the UK, Republic of Ireland or a low- or middle-income country, and you should:

  • have an established academic post at an eligible higher education or research institution - by this we mean you are employed on a permanent, open-ended or long-term rolling contract, salaried by your host institution
  • be no more than five years from appointment to your first established academic post on the date you submit your application. More experienced researchers who have obtained significant, independent research support prior to their first academic appointment will be advised to apply for a Senior Investigator Award.

You are also eligible to apply 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 the Trust if you are unsure whether you are eligible for this scheme (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) please note that 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 other than in the territories mentioned above, please note that 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.

The New Investigator Award scheme is not available to researchers in India (please see guidance on 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 a New Investigator Award should be distinct from, and not intended to replace, activities already supported in that institute.
  • We encourage applications from outstanding individuals 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 eligibility.
  • Royal Society and RCUK researchers may be eligible to apply and are advised to contact the Trust.
  • Unsuccessful applicants will normally be expected to wait 12 months before resubmitting an application, and must first discuss their resubmission with the Trust.
  • You may hold only one New Investigator Award at any one time.

Joint applications

Joint applications are welcome from two researchers who are working closely together towards a shared research vision. Please contact the Trust for advice before completing your application form.

See the FAQs for more information about the scheme.

Suitability

New Investigator Awards are aimed at recently appointed, independent researchers who have already established a strong scientific track-record relative to their career stage, demonstrating innovative research with clear impact; who are forging international reputations for excellence in their fields; and who show exceptional promise for the future. The Trust is particularly interested in receiving applications from university lecturers within the first five years of their independent research careers.

Ideally, you will:

  • have a strong, internationally competitive track record in research, relative to the stage of your career and research experience to date
  • have published significant intellectual contributions to research
  • show evidence of achievement as an independent researcher in your chosen area
  • have begun to establish a training record and to coach or mentor less experienced researchers.

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

See the FAQs for more information about the scheme.

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

Host institution: what the Trust expects

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

Your main 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 a New 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 a New Investigator Award
  • the source of your salary for the duration of the award
  • that the necessary additional space, facilities and infrastructure will be made available to you for the research 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 rigorous review process and interview. We no longer offer a formal CV check stage. However, prospective applicants are strongly advised to ensure that they meet the eligibility criteria, and may contact the Trust at any stage during preparation of the application to discuss their proposal or suitability for the scheme.

The key stages of the application process are:

  • submission of a New Investigator Award application form
  • scientific peer review by one of the Trust’s Expert Review Groups, which will shortlist the candidates for interview
  • written peer review of shortlisted applications by external expert referees, which will include members of the Trust’s Peer Review College. Selected unattributed referee comments will be fed back to the candidate before interview.
  • interview of shortlisted candidates by the Interview Panel
  • if successful at interview, candidates will then need to provide detailed costings to be agreed with the Trust.

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 Investigator Award application process.

Please see 'Key dates' for details of the next full application closing date.

Assessment criteria

All experts involved in reviewing and selecting candidates for award are asked to consider applications against the following criteria:

  • the track record of the candidate relative to their career stage, and his or her standing in the field
  • the quality and importance of the research question(s)
  • the approach to solving these questions
  • the suitability of the research environment
  • how the proposed research addresses one or more of our major challenges.

Unsuccessful applicants will not normally be allowed to resubmit within 12 months of the date of decision, and should first discuss their resubmission with the Trust.

Successful applicants may have the opportunity to apply for future Enhancement funding.

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.

See the FAQs for more information about the scheme.

Deadlines

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

  • Next full application closing date: 14 November 2014
  • Shortlisting of candidates by Expert Review Group: January 2015
  • Shortlisted candidate interviews by Interview Panel: 30 March-1 April 2015

Details of future closing dates:

  • 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 25 July 2014 closing date:

Contacts

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

See our postal address and general contact details.

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