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International Engagement Awards

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What are the Awards?

The Wellcome Trust International Engagement Awards provide funding for innovative public or community engagement projects that explore biomedical research or health in Africa and Asia.

We believe that understanding the social, political and historical contexts of biomedical science helps to deliver its full potential for health improvement and builds a society in which both research and the next generation of scientists can flourish.

The public engagement activities we fund bridge the gap between the research community and the general public, and provide channels for these groups to understand one another. Engagement should encourage a critical awareness of the personal, ethical and cultural impacts of health research and should stimulate an insightful sharing of views that has benefits for all involved.

The value of the projects we fund does not lie in public education but in true public engagement, which is why our International Engagement Awards do not support health promotion or basic health information provision, but projects that involve the community and facilitate discussion. Competitive projects could come in many forms, such as community-led digital storytelling, collaborative theatre projects or café-style debates. Our aim is to ensure science can be enjoyed and experienced as part of culture, entertainment and everyday life.

International Engagement Previous Awards

Visit our case studies.

How do I apply?

International Engagement Awards provide grants of up to £30,000 for up to three years.

Projects should:

  • stimulate dialogue about biomedical research and health and its impact on the public
  • promote innovative partnerships between community organisations, the cultural sector, and scientists/researchers
  • strengthen capacity to conduct future public or community engagement with biomedical research and health.

Projects that are not eligible for the scheme include health promotion or public health campaign projects, research projects, or projects that do not deal with biomedical sciences, health or the history of medicine.

The scheme is open to a range of potential applicants, including scientists and health researchers, NGOs, educators, artists, theatre practitioners, and cultural and community organisations.

We encourage partnerships in all projects and suggest that scientist-led projects be planned in collaboration with partners in civil society or the creative industries.

Projects must either be led by, or in collaboration with, biomedical scientists or health researchers.

The audience for the project, and the engagement activity, must be in a low- or middle-income country within Sub-Saharan Africa, South-east Asia or South Asia that is also eligible for our Investigator Awards within the broader remit of the Trust (but also including India). These are the countries marked with an asterisk on our LMIC country eligibility page.

To apply, you must first submit an expression of interest for the International Engagement Awards and email it to us. If your project is suitable for the scheme, we will ask you to complete a full application form.

We encourage you to contact us as early as possible before the deadline so we are able to provide feedback and there is sufficient time for you to complete the full application form.

All eligible projects will be assessed individually on merit and need by a funding committee. Final decisions will be made approximately 10 weeks after the full application deadline.

What projects have been funded?

The International Engagement Awards scheme has previously funded projects such as:

Dr Nicola Desmond, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Malawi
In Our Hands - Participatory media exploring HIV self-testing
£30,520 for 15 months

In Our Hands brings together the Malawi-Liverpool Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme, the Global Health Film initiative and members of the Blantyre community living with HIV. The project aims to explore the acceptability of HIV self-testing (HIVST) and create debate and reflection around HIVST and diagnosis. Working with the HIV department at the World Health Organization (WHO) and linking with the HIVST.org website, In Our Hands will engage both professionals and the wider public to facilitate and document discussion between local communities, health professionals, researchers and global policy makers. Using participatory media and community involvement, In Our Hands comprises a participatory video workshop, in which members will write, direct and film stories about their HIVST experiences. These films will then form a 30-minute theatrical documentary for a series of community screenings with panel discussions across Blantyre.

Hephzi A Tagoe, GhScientific, Ghana
Know Your Environment, Protect Your Neighbour
£15,466 for 17 months

This project aims to connect high school students with scientists and STEM Ambassadors to research the impacts of pollutants in their local environments on community health. Findings will be communicated to the larger community through events and the media. The project will involve an introductory workshop with scientists from the University of Ghana and experts from both the Ghana Health Service and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to explore the effect of environmental pollutants on health. School science clubs will then be tasked to design and run a project which will involve identifying a health condition, an environmental trigger associated with the chosen condition and a means of raising awareness to help the local community consider the impact of human activity on the environment and in turn human health. Through the project, engagement capacity will be developed in high school pupils, undergraduate science students, scientists, the local community and professionals in the environmental and health sector.

AK Roy, Sanchal Foundation, India
Bridging the Gap - Science and Society
£29,675 for 24 months

This community-based participatory research project aims to engage different urban communities in India by supporting them to carry out research on environmental health issues. The project will use a process that is focused on interaction between scientists and the community, ensuring communities’ input and knowledge in the research process. The Hazards Centre of Sanchal Foundation is a response-based organisation, assisting local groups and community based organisations in identifying, understanding and combating the ‘hazards’ that beset them. Identifying issues is done on the basis of demands from communities, a large number of which deal with community health and the prevention of disease. Some of the potential issues to be explored in the project are the health impacts on communities living in the vicinity of thermal power, waste to energy, and waste processing plants.

Prof Collen Masimirembwa, African Institute of Biomedical Science and Technology, Zimbabwe
Next Generation Biomedical Scientists – NGBS
£29,118 for 12 months

This project aims to engage students in primary and secondary schools in games which explore the application of life sciences knowledge with a view to encouraging a new generation of African scientists. The Next Generation Biomedical Scientists (NGBS) program will be expanded to reach primary and secondary schools across Zimbabwe and will use activities that help children understand and appreciate life processes in an exciting ‘model it to know it, play it to enjoy it’ approach. Through NGBS activities, the students are encouraged to make illustrative models which explore topical biomedical issues in the fields of forensic science, disease diagnosis and treatment, and the molecular basis of cellular processes. It is hoped this project will increase the visibility of, and interest in, biomedical sciences, and highlight it as a career option for students.

Shane McCracken, Gallomanor Communications Ltd, UK
I'm a Scientist. Get me out of here! – Vietnam
£30,000 for 30 months

I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here! (IAS) is an online event where secondary school students meet and interact with scientists. It’s an X Factor-style competition between scientists, where the students are the judges. Over two weeks, students read the scientist profiles, ask questions, have live online text chats with the scientists, and vote for the winner, who receives a cash prize to be spent on science education in schools. This project will research, translate, pilot, evaluate and roll out a version of the UK event for Vietnam and will also train a local project manager so that IAS can be run autonomously in subsequent years. Working with the Wellcome Trust-funded Oxford University Clinical Research Unit Vietnam (OUCRU-VN), IAS will cooperate with the Science and Technology Development Center of Youth Union Ho Chi Minh City (TST), which is the government association representing school students interested in science and technology across the city. Through TST, the IAS project has potential to reach many school students in Ho Chi Minh City, for the improvement of science education.

Arundhati Raja, The ART Foundation, India
The Vaidya's Oath
£28,353 for 7 months

The Vaidya's Oath is a drama-in-education project consisting of a script development process, theatrical production, workshop programme, public discussion series, blog, website and video production exploring antibiotic resistance in an Indian context. It is based on a long-term collaboration between Jagriti Theatre and the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), both in Bengaluru, and Theatrescience in the UK. The title was inspired by the Vedic equivalent of the Hippocratic Oath as it seeks to address the fundamental issues –doctors over-prescribing antibiotics and patients failing to take their full course of antibiotics.

Frances Ling, Lightyear Foundation, London
Lab_13 Ghana
£29,800 for 12 months

Lab_13 Ghana is part of a network of Lab_13s founded on the principles of creating a space where young people can explore the science questions which matter to them, and where curiosity is encouraged and experiment driven by imagination. The method is already successful in the UK and Lab_13 Ghana is the first to open in Africa. The lab is run by a management committee of young people, supported by a team of Scientists in Residence (SiRs). The SiRs aren’t teachers but act as guides to the students in their investigations. This project is a partnership between Lightyear Foundation and Ignite!, which developed the concept of Lab_13 in the UK and will work with a newly formed Ghana Advisory Board (GAB) to build on the pilot and open a second lab. The team aims to monitor the academic benefit over a longer period and work with the GAB to move towards a sustainable, locally owned operation.

Case studies and information on all our previous funding.

Deadlines and contacts

Full applications are considered twice a year. You can submit an expression of interest at any time, but we encourage you to submit it well before the deadline for each round so that we can provide advice and feedback to increase your chances of making a successful application.

The deadlines for sending expressions of interest for each funding round are:

  • 19 February 2016
  • 19 August 2016


International Engagement Awards
Wellcome Trust
Gibbs Building
215 Euston Road
London NW1 2BE, UK
T +44 (0)20 7611 5757
E PEgrants@wellcome.ac.uk

Wellcome Trust, Gibbs Building, 215 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE, UK T:+44 (0)20 7611 8888