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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:

Mr Abraham Mamela
Collaborative African Genomics Network (CAfGEN), Botswana
Inside the Labs

Inside the Labs [working title] will result in a movie-style comic book series that fuses real life biomedical research activities at the University of Botswana and the Botswana-Baylor Centre of Excellence (COE) with a fictional human story to engage people in Botswana on issues around genomics research into HIV and TB disease progression. The comic series focuses on scientists’ efforts to use genomics to better understand and address HIV and TB among children in Botswana as well as exploring the community’s views around the topic. The project based on a collaboration between researchers at COE and the Biological Science and Media Studies departments of University of Botswana, will use participatory workshops to engage local community members and animators/cartoonists and encourage dialogue around the science topic. The resulting comic book series will be disseminated in local newspapers and reach a large audience through social media and online platforms.

Ms Annabelle Audier
University of Oxford
Beyond the hospital: strengthening dialogue to improve health outcomes,

The project, Beyond the Hospital, aims to use participatory processes to stimulate dialogue between patients who have experienced central nervous system infections, their carers, health workers, researchers, and rehabilitation organisations in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The project will strengthen capacity for communication between the groups, explore impacts of the illnesses and potentially identify factors that may improve rehabilitation post-discharge from hospital. Staff from Oxford University Clinical Research Unit (OUCRU) will partner with a social anthropologist, local artists and media professionals, and using participatory research and engagement methods including forum theatre, photo voice and a photography exhibition, will aim to enable users and providers to feel empowered to actively shape health services and improve health outcomes.

Dr Ann Grand
Café Scientifique
Café Scientifique East Africa, Northern Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi

Building on the success of the establishment of Café Scientifique in schools in the Kampala and Mbale regions of Uganda, this new project aims to reach out to schools in northern Uganda, as well as piloting the model in Rwanda and Burundi. The project will employ a ‘train the trainer’ method to allow the initiative to spread and grow, where teachers can set-up and run new cafés and encourage a student-driven approach. The work will also involve running a Science Fair in northern Uganda and the establishment of a Wiki to share resources and expertise. The simple, robust and low-cost Café Scientifique model offers a space in which pupils and researchers can develop the skills to discuss important and relevant topics with confidence, bringing their personal experiences and expertise to a forum in which they can engage together in a conversation about the issues in science that affect their daily lives.

Dr Rashida Abbas Ferrand
Biomedical Research and Training Institute
Breaking the Silence: stories about HIV-infected adolescents in Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe

Large numbers of HIV-infected children are now reaching adolescence as a result of widespread availability of HIV treatment. This engagement project aims to highlight the challenges faced by young people living with HIV and their care-providers in Harare, Zimbabwe. The project, which is linked to the ZENITH research project, will focus attention on the special needs of this age-group by exploring the complex clinical and psychosocial issues. Digital storytelling workshops will allow caregivers and healthcare workers to express their views and explore the topic, with the aim of producing a number of short films. A group of young people living with HIV will be engaged in a drama workshop to develop a script based on their experiences which will be enacted by actors and filmed. The digital stories and the drama-film will be made into a three-part documentary film which will be disseminated to communities, schools, stakeholders and policy makers.

Dr Michele Tameris
University of Cape Town
Beat TB: it’s your choice – a performance festival approach, South Africa

The South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative (SATVI) in collaboration with the University of Cape Town Drama School and the Mothertongue Project will develop, produce and perform a cycle of street theatre events culminating in a mini festival, informing audiences about TB and TB vaccine clinical research. They will be working in a semi-rural town in Western Cape, South Africa where the TB incidence is amongst the highest in the world and will engage both young people and also wider adult audiences. Interactive drama flash-mobs in shopping centres and transport hubs will explore the issues and seek to engage the community in further focus group discussions to inform the site-specific installation exhibition and carnival aspects of the resulting festival. The aim is to explore questions and assumptions around TB and raise awareness about vaccine research.

Case studies and information on all our previous funding.

Deadlines and contacts

Please submit your expression of interest as early as possible but at least two weeks before any full application deadline. The following deadlines are for invited full applications:

  • 13th March 2015 (expressions of interest must be received before 27th February)
  • 11th September 2015 (expressions of interest must be received before 28th August)

You can contact us at:
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