The Wellcome Trust has a new public engagement strategy and, as a result, in March 2018 they reopened their Public Engagement Fund to reflect this strategic shift. Wellcome has changed elements of how they’re running the scheme and what they’re looking for. In particular, they want applicants to be clearer about the change they are going to make in the world.

To guide you through the new fund and what it means for those working in low- and middle-income countries, we have created this Mesh guide.

What is it?

The Wellcome Trust Public Engagement Fund enables individuals and organisations to use creative approaches in engaging the public with health research.

Applicants can apply for any amount from the equivalent of £25,000 to £3 million, for up to 3 years.

What is the fund looking for?

The fund is looking for creative approaches to engaging the public. It is looking for projects that support Wellcome’s public engagement goals. Therefore, projects should do at least one of the following:

  • Empower people by helping them to access, use, respond to, and/or participate in health research and innovation
  • Improve health research by making it more people-centred, to better understand people’s experiences and draw on that knowledge
  • Help people to value and think critically about science, health research, innovation and the role these play in society

Projects must also do one of the following:

  • Innovate or try new ways of working
  • Develop an existing activity where you have evidence that it has been successful
  • Learn from a successful engagement activity delivered by you or others, and replicate it with a new audience

Wellcome are especially interested in work which promotes diversity and inclusion, and engages people and communities who are affected by social and economic disadvantage.

For projects taking place in a low- or middle-income country, Wellcome particularly wants to see how it will strengthen the public engagement skills of the people and organisations involved in developing the project in that country.

Writing your Proposal:

In your proposal, you must include:

  • The main outcomes you want to achieve during the project, the outputs (activities) you’ll undertake, and any longer-term impacts you hope your project will have
  • The people you want to reach, and why you want to work with them
  • Previous activities, knowledge or learning that your proposal will build on
  • An outline plan of how you will deliver the project
  • How you’ll track if your project has been successful in achieving its outcomes
  • How you’ll share what you’ve learned

For more information, read Public Engagement Fund: What Good Proposals Look Like[PDF 371KB].

While you are planning your proposal you may want to think about the following:

Project examples

For examples of what Wellcome has funded previously, take a look at the following case studies:

• Dharavi Beinnale – India
• Samala Moyo – Malawi
• Health in the Backyard – Vietnam
• Genome Adventures - Botswana

Who can apply?

The Fund is open to individuals and organisations (commercial and not-for-profit). Your project must focus on health, although this doesn’t need to be your organisation’s main focus or core activity.  

You can be working in the arts, culture, entertainment media, heritage, leisure, education, research, informal learning, social enterprise, non-profit and community sectors, or other fields.

Your team should have the right expertise and skill sets to develop and deliver your proposed project. This should include at least one subject expert, such as a researcher in a science or health-related discipline, and/or a health professional. The expert can lead the project, be a collaborator or take on an advisory role. Wellcome encourages partnerships in all proposals and suggests that scientist or researcher-led proposals be planned in collaboration with partners in civil society or creative industries.

The project must take place in one or more of the following places: the UK, the Republic of Ireland, a low- or middle-income country within Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, or East Asia and Pacific.

You cannot apply if your proposal is about:

  • Delivering health interventions with primarily therapeutic purposes
  • Running or promoting health campaigns
  • Providing health information
  • Telling people what to do rather than enabling them to make their own decisions
  • Academic research (unless it’s integral to the project’s development e.g. action research or evaluation within the project)
  • Engagement activities that are essential to carrying out a health research project/programme in an ethical way, e.g. consulting with community advisory panels or communicating research findings to research participants

More Information

For details on how to apply and further guidance documents please go to the Wellcome website

If you have any questions about the suitability of your proposal you can contact

Frequently Asked Questions

In these videos, from two live events in March 2018, Wellcome staff answer potential applicant's questions about the new fund.

These Q&As aimed to answer questions about the new strategy and the revised Public Engagement Fund, featuring a panel of:

  • Imran Khan, Head of Public Engagement
  • Greer Roberts, Funding and Activities Lead
  • Farrah Nazir, Acting Creative and Partnerships Lead


For upcoming deadlines, please visit the Wellcome Trust website.