Internal Funding

Internal Funding

The University of Aberdeen under the Aberdeen Grants Academy manages several internal funding opportunities to pump-prime research and knowledge exchange activities.

Deadlines are announced through-out the year for the various streams. Please feel free to ask questions at anytime.

Internal Funding to Pump-Prime Research and Research Networks

Internal Funding to Pump-Prime Research and Research Networks

***UPDATE 07 JUNE 2022 PLEASE NOTE funds remaining for activity in 2021/22 (to be spent by 31st July 2022) are now running low, please contact your Research Development Executive to discuss your proposal before developing and submitting an application***

We anticipate that the kind of activities that could be undertaken through this funding will be diverse and want to provide flexibility in how it is used.

With this initiative, support is available to enable a range of activities including:

  • Pump-priming for interdisciplinary research initiatives to develop sustainable new interdisciplinary groups or networks, or for existing interdisciplinary groups or networks to develop new areas of research importance. The University is particularly keen on supporting projects advancing our Interdisciplinary Challenge areas, for more information on these please see here.  To encourage the co-development of research programmes and networks, activities which engage non-academic organisations are particularly encouraged.
  • Bid development funds to support the development of new major funding applications, as well as support for external grant applications that were highly graded by funding panels but remained unfunded, and for applications where internal peer review suggests specific actions for improvement (support for activities to underpin applications to fEC funders are strongly encouraged)
  • Networking, access to consultants or pump priming initiatives that would lead to large European network grants, in particular, Horizon Europe funding.


Applications are welcome from all academic staff across the University for research pilot projects and the development of research partnerships which would potentially lead to subsequent funding from external funding bodies and/or contribute to Aberdeen 2040 stategic priorities.

The Lead Applicant must be a current employee with the University of Aberdeen.  A project can have co-PIs if from different disciplines.

You cannot be a Lead Applicant on more than one proposal at a time however it is permissible to be Lead Applicant on one application and a Co-Applicant on another.

Priority will be given to applicants who have not received funding in previous rounds of the pump-priming scheme. Former awardees should make a clear case for additional funding sought, including an update on outcomes (both pending and achieved) of activities supported previously. In such cases you are encouraged to discuss a further application with your Research Development Executive prior to submitting your proposal.

An application cannot be accepted if there is a report outstanding on any previous pump-priming grant awarded by the University to the Lead Applicant or Co-Applicant(s) named in a new proposal.

Level of Award

Applications up to £10,000 are anticipated, however larger awards will be considered upon reasonable request. Please discuss your needs with your Research Development Executive. Projects must be completed by 31 July 2022; costs incurred after this date will not be eligible. Projects must have Head of School/ Head of Institute agreement. 

Deadline (open) - applications will be accepted on a rolling basis and the assessment panel will meet regularly to review submissions in a timely manner.

Please submit application forms by email to 

Application Form (version March 2022)

Funding can be requested to support high quality research initiatives which have the potential to become sustainable through external funding from traditional or novel sources.

Eligible costs can include:

  • pilot studies
  • access to institutional core facilities to enable researchers (particularly early career researchers) to enhance their existing line of research or develop new studies that could potentially lead to external funding (
  • capacity building activities such as meetings and exchanges to develop and/or strengthen relationships with partners to progress potential collaborations
  • funding to support ODA compliant research to promote the economic development and welfare of Low or Middle Income Countries (LMICs) on the DAC list of Official Development Assistance (ODA) recipients. More information can be found at "Is it ODA"
  • workshops (most likely online, especially where this engages audiences beyond the University)
  • administrative staff time e.g. to support the co-ordination of a new seminar series
  • limited postdoctoral assistance e.g. PDRA time dedicated to support grant writing (1-2 months)
  • academic staff time (buy-out) - replacement teaching costs to enable academic staff time for the development of grant bids only
  • travel (although we strongly encourage online events due to COVID-19 and the climate crisis)
  • consumables
  • third party costs (i.e. sub-contractors or consultants)
  • co-funding for large grants e.g. networking calls
  • exceptional requests to support a non-academic stakeholder’s costs will be considered however our expectation is that all external stakeholders will demonstrate commitment to the proposed research by co-funding activities

The funding cannot be used as a standalone funding to underpin personal research programmes.

Ineligible costs include academic staff time (buy-out) for any activity other than the development of grant bids, funding to continue existing research projects  and overheads.


Applications will be reviewed by circulation. The process will be overseen by the Vice-Principal (Research) and applications reviewed by a panel that will comprise of selected Deans of Research, School Directors of Research, Interdisciplinary Challenge Directors and the Director of Research & Innovation. Further reviewers (including external reviewers) may be added as required for relevant expertise including input from relevant Heads of School.

Key Assessment Criteria

The funding available is primarily intended to support interdisciplinary research and research partnerships, however the review panel will consider all applications on merit. Priority will be given to projects which engage a non-academic partner.

Highly rated proposals are likely to demonstrate one or more of the following characteristics:

  • establishing new, high quality interdisciplinary research collaborations, or significantly enhance existing partnerships, both internally and externally
  • building on excellent research
  • demonstrable evidence of fulfilment of Aberdeen 2040 commitments  to be more inclusive, interdisciplinary, international and sustainable university.
  • providing the evidence-base, knowledge, solutions, innovations, technologies or pathways to support the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals
  • novel approach to address a complex research challenge
  • demonstrating collaborations with industry, international partners or other external stakeholders (or clear plans to gain such collaborations in the course of the project), and the value that this adds to the research area
  • demonstrating clear pathways to achieve outcomes e.g. attracting external funding or creating demonstrable impact within and beyond academia
  • the extent to which the likely outcome of the research or activity will represent value for money


Where applicable, approval of the relevant ethics board is required as a condition of funding.


Awardees will be asked to contribute a lay project summary which will be used on the University's webpages.

A report must be provided within 60 days of completion of the project and a simple template proforma will be shared with awardees for this purpose.

We will seek to maintain conversations with awardees and follow the leverage achieved through the investment so there will be additional opportunities for awardees to provide updates and reports, for example, you may be contacted from time to time by Research & Innovation to contribute to the development of a case study for additional reporting or invited to participate in research events such as a symposia.

Global Challenge Research Internal Fund: Pump Prime or Impact Accelerator Fund and COVID-19 Response Schemes - Now Closed

The Aberdeen Grants Academy is inviting applications to three internal funding schemes to support ODA compliant research in DAC countries.  Applicants to all three schemes are encouraged to consider a wide range of activities in the delivery of their project, including but not limited to supporting PhD student stipends, Postdoctoral Researchers and the use of online technologies. The panel would particularly welcome creative solutions given the current restrictions on travel and face to face research. The activities must align to the Official Development Assistance (ODA) guidelines; namely to promote economic development and welfare within Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs) on the DAC list and must demonstrate ODA compliance.  More information can be found at ‘Is it ODA?’

Funding available through each scheme is indicated in the notes below, however, in exceptional circumstances the panel will consider higher value projects where sufficient justification is provided..

Covid-19 Response

Funding of up to £50,000 per project is available to support research activities as follows:

  1. Support the response to Covid-19 in DAC countries. These may be new projects or existing projects which can be repurposed and/or extended to meet the challenges of COVID-19.
  2. Providing additional support to existing ODA compliant projects which have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. These projects need not be tackling issues related to the pandemic themselves but will have experienced significant disruption to the planned research activities. Projects in this category will need to demonstrate the disruption caused and how additional funding will enable them to achieve the objectives of the original project.

Internal Pump Priming

Funding of up to £20,000 are invited. Projects should seek to:

  • Build new collaborative links and.or consolidate existing partnerships with researchers and stakeholders active in international development, with a particular emphasis in LMICs, to provide a firm foundation for future ODA-oriented projects and to demonstrate the demand lead nature from stakeholders of proposals.
  • Enable researchers to capture pilot data and/or evidence to position research areas for future funding applications to the Global Challenge Research Fund.
  • Support other relevant activity directly related to the development of proposals to GCRF initiatives.

Impact Accelerator

Projects of up to £20,000 are invited. Projects should seek to achieve and/or to evaluate impact arising from ODA-compliant research, including GCRF and Newton.


Please complete the appropriate application form and return it to

An application form for GCRF-IPPF and Impact Accelerator funding may be downloaded here.

Those applying to the Covid-19 Response scheme should use this form. At present this is an open call and applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. It is expected the panel will meet from late May on a regular basis. 

Further information on the GCRF is available from UKRI where you will also find a list of current UKRI GCRF funding calls. You can also follow UKRI GCRF news via the UKRI News twitter account.

If you wish to discuss an application, please contact the Grants Academy

For advice and for help with costing an application, please contact your pre-award costing accountant.


Applications will be reviewed by circulation. The panel will comprise of selected Heads of Schools, Deans of Research, School Directors of Research and the Director of Research & Innovation. Further reviewers may be added as required for relevant expertise. The key assessment criteria for making awards will be on the potential to support excellent ODA-compliant research, to build and develop international partnerships to be competitive for GCRF funding.


A report must be provided within a month of completion of the project. Guidance on reporting requirements will be provided to award holders at award stage.

Further Guidance

Further information about the GCRF calls and ODA compliance, please visit our GCRF webpage.

Knowledge Exchange and Commercialisation (KEC) Award

KEC Awards offer pump-priming funding for activities such as

  • Working with industry for knowledge exchange activities (particularly small and medium enterprises)
  • Developing intellectual property
  • Engaging with stakeholders for knowledge exchange activities
  • Commercialising research
  • Applying for funding for translational research awards or knowledge transfer partnerships

The 2021/2022 KEC awards welcome applications that focus upon the economic and social recovery from covid-19. Projects that include collaborative work with local companies and/or organisations that will aid in the regional and national recovery from the effects of the pandemic, that support their efforts to diversify and innovate and that support their efforts to develop new products, processes or services will be particularly welcomed.

The call is open to any industry sector and any academic discipline. Applications must have Head of School/Institute/Department approval.

Awards are expected to be up to £6K and exceptionally up to £10K. Projects must be completed by 31 July 2022.

Contact Dr Javier Lopez Vidal; Dr Ann Lewendon or Dr Zachary Hickman for further information, to discuss an application and for an application form.


Knowledge exchange is a two-way process that moves knowledge derived from research activities to non-academic organisations to enhance and improve their practices, policies, products and services, and also allows for knowledge flow back to the University to inform research.

Commercialisation is the process by which research outcomes are brought to market through the development of new products, services or technologies. This often involves the protection of intellectual property and there is usually a commercial return to the University.

Public Engagement with Research Enabling Fund 2021-2022

The University has awards of £500, and in exceptional circumstances up to £1000, to enable public engagement with research activities.

Summary of Eligibility

1. The awards are intended to support research-led public engagement projects that for lack of funding might otherwise not take place.

2. Proposals may consist of a standalone idea or feature elements of a larger project.

3. We will accept applications from anyone across the University community, however, projects must demonstrate a tangible link with current areas of University research.

4. Applications are made by an individual (the lead applicant), however, they may be made on behalf of a wider team.

5. The lead applicant must be a current employee or PGR student with the University of Aberdeen.

6. We particularly welcome applications that:

  • Are linked to one of the five interdisciplinary challenges linked to the University’s strategy, Aberdeen 2040
  • Will take place during or link with British Science Week (11-20 March 2022) or the University’s Festival of New Ideas (27-29 May 2022)
  • Help establish impact
  • Foster 2-way digital engagement

7. Funds must be spent by 31st July 2022.

8. Proposals that involve partners and community engagement are welcome though we recommend seeking the support of third parties ahead of making your application.

9. Proposals must have an evaluation plan.

10. Applicants are encouraged to seek advice and support from the PERU team by emailing

Summary of terms

1. Applications are assessed comparatively with other proposals received by a review panel, which represents different areas of the University. The decision of the review panel is final.

2. Applications must address the questions in the application form.

3. Where proposals require top-up or supplementary funding we may ask for evidence that such funding has been secured.

4. Applications should be submitted by email to indicating ‘Enabling Fund’ in the subject field.

5. Any funds not spent by 31 July 2022 will be required to be returned to PERU.

6. Funding recipients will be required to supply information about their project for the purposes of a case study.

7. A report on the project and its evaluation will be provided within 6 months of the project end date

Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support fund (ISSF)

Funding to support a range of strategic research activities that fall within the Wellcome Trust's remit.

Visit here for more information.