Institutional Strategic Support Fund (ISSF3)

Areas to be funded

The Wellcome Trust and the University have agreed that ISSF3 awards should be made across eight strategic areas.

Areas to be Funded

The Wellcome Trust and the University of Edinburgh have agreed that ISSF3 awards should be in the following strategic areas and applications for an award should fit within one or more of these:

1)  Support for early career researchers

Support for early career researchers/Chancellor’s Fellows/clinical lecturers of the highest promise, towards Wellcome Trust or other prestigious fellowship or grant applications. Applicants will usually be independent investigators rather than researchers employed in well-funded research groups (these awards are not intended to support the early career researcher’s supervisor). Typically awards will be:

•    pump priming grants to generate key pilot data for fellowship and grant applications or, less commonly, to complete key data for high impact publications.

•    research leave fellowships which are available for Clinical Lecturers to allow them to take up to 6 months away from clinical training to focus on research deliverables

•    exchange grants to learn a new technique or collaborate, especially to prepare for a fellowship application

•    momentum awards to maintain research activity, e.g. by employing a technician, during disrupted periods e.g. parental or sick leave.


2)  Support for mid-career, senior investigators and infrastructure

Support for mid-career and senior Investigators towards Wellcome Trust or other major prestigious fellowship or grant applications.


3)  Support for interdisciplinary projects

Response-mode pump-priming awards in these categories are highly flexible and are intended to enhance applications for major research grants, including programmatic and infrastructure awards and Wellcome Trust Investigator awards. Principal applicants will be academic staff and new collaborations between independent investigators, especially in different Schools/Colleges, are encouraged. These funds are not intended simply to supplement well-funded groups, and applicants must explain why the award is needed quickly and why it cannot be obtained as a conventional external grant.

ISSF3 will also fund interdisciplinary workshops to encourage new collaborations and develop research networks. Proposals are encouraged for workshops that bring together investigators from multiple research centres/institutes/schools to address a common theme.


4)   Equality and diversity support

Momentum awards, described above, are not limited to early career researchers,     and may be awarded to academic staff whose research progress risks being delayed by potentially disadvantageous circumstances, including but not limited to parental leave. Applications will be handled in confidence.


5)   Support for commercial translation

A significant proportion of ISSF3 is intended to advance projects arising from University of Edinburgh research with high potential for commercialisation, usually in readiness for follow-on funding/collaboration. These pump-priming awards recognise that rapid progress is often important for example to exemplify a new patent or to provide proof-of-concept funding in advance of a translational grant application. Applicants should provide a clear case for the unmet need, intellectual property protection and route to market for their invention and, as above, must explain why funding is required quickly and cannot be obtained from a conventional external grant. They should liaise with the relevant member of the Edinburgh Innovations Business Development team in working up their proposal.

Please note that ISSF3 funds support a Translator-in-Residence, Dr Andrew McBride, who is a scientist with experience in translational project evaluation and management and outsourcing. Please contact


6)  Support for open research

ISSF3 is supporting a project to develop resources to share biomedical research data, and employs a researcher for this purpose. The team will consider supporting exemplary projects to maximise the exploitation of research and enhance its reproducibility.


7)  Support for public engagement

Previous ISSFs supported a number of investigator-led public engagement projects. For ISSF3, Wellcome have encouraged an approach which emphasises embedding public engagement into projects, but the Trust is keen that major projects should be funded by their new response-mode fund to which any applicants can apply. We therefore encourage proposals which incorporate training in public engagement with or without the delivery of a public engagement project. It is important to describe how the quality and reach of the activity will be measured.


8)  Support for international/UK inter-institutional collaboration and global challenges research

ISSF3 will support pump-priming awards for projects with high potential for follow-on funding/collaboration for research on global challenges, for example from Wellcome Trust or RCUK GCRF. Applications are also encouraged for exchange visits and international workshops that will establish new collaborations.


Please note:

The ISSF Committee reserves the right not to make a full complement of awards in each priority area and very occasionally to make awards outwith the scheduled competition rounds as opportunities emerge.