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The Michaelmas Term 2020 round of the Wellcome Institutional Strategic Support Fund (deadline 12pm on 14 October 2020) will be the LAST round of funding allocation from the current block grant from Wellcome. Future rounds will be dependent on the receipt of further funding from Wellcome. 

The Oxford-Wellcome ISSF Interdepartmental Strategic Initiative stream will support strategic initiatives by supporting:

  • Equipment, research assets or staff within shared facilities where there is evidence of strategic need
  • Establishment of cross cutting themes through activities such as research facilitation, symposia or conferences in order to encourage collaboration in new areas

Only initiatives that are able to demonstrate a clear strategic need will be supported. The Interdepartmental Strategic Initiative stream will not support individual research projects or projects limited to only one department/faculty.  

We are inviting applications for small awards (up to £10,000) and main awards (not usually exceeding £150,000). Due to the limited funding available, applications requesting the maximum funding amount will need to make a strong strategic case for the level of support requested.

The funding for the Wellcome ISSF block grant will end on 31 March 2023; all projects must end and be fully spent by this date. No extensions beyond 31 March 2023 will be permitted.

For proposals requesting shared equipment, a clear business case should be presented which articulates the strategic need for the equipment, the proposed users, the plans for sustainability and for upgrades to existing facilities a description of relevant history. Applicants should also address how bids fit with the findings of the ISSF sponsored equipment audits, where relevant.

A letter of support from the Head of the Host Department for projects should be included describing the department's support for the proposal and a statement that any match funding details provided in this application are accurate.


The ISSF is only able to support projects in Wellcome research areas. Any direct cost associated with the project is eligible. This includes but is not limited to staff costs (excluding PI salary), consumables, equipment, access fees, animal costs, payments to research participants and teaching buy out. Please note that any buy out plans must be approved in advance by both the department and/or the college. No indirect or directly allocated costs will be supported. Any queries about eligible costs should be addressed to your ISSF Divisional Point of Contact

Applicants should work with their departments to cost their proposal accurately.


It is expected that funding requests to the ISSF for awards over £10k will have a minimum 20% match component at the point of application. Match funding can come from external sources (excluding Wellcome), or departmental funds. Queries about match funding should be directed to your ISSF Divisional Point of Contact in the first instance.

Please note that funding from existing or new Wellcome grants cannot be used as match funding for the ISSF. 

Applicants must normally be employed by the University, hold a contract extending to at least the end date of their proposed project (or an underwrite from their department), and fit into at least one of the categories described above. DPhil students are not eligible to apply. Postdoctoral Researchers and Clinical Research Fellows are only eligible to apply when a clear case is made for how an ISSF award will establish their independent career.

The Michaelmas Term 2020 round of the Wellcome Institutional Strategic Support Fund (deadline 12pm on 14 October 2020) will be the LAST round of funding allocation from the current block grant from Wellcome. Future rounds will be dependent on the receipt of further funding from Wellcome.  

Applications must be submitted online via the Internal Research Award Management System (IRAMS)

Guidance in the form of quick reference guide documents for applicants, departmental approvers and administrators can be found on Research Support pages.

Note that some departments may have set an earlier internal deadline so please check with your local admin team and prepare your application well in advance of the date advertised above. Applications must be reviewed online by departmental approvers and, where approved, submitted for review by the Committee before the deadline. 

Applications, scores and reviewer comments may be shared with other internal University panels to ensure maximum value for money.

Guidance for Completing the Business Case for Interdepartmental Strategic Initiatives (Purchases of Major Equipment) Form

Any application that involves the purchases of major equipment or equipment that will contribute to a shared facility should fill in Part II of the application form. A further 2 pages may be used to do this, giving a total page limit of 6 pages for Part I and Part II. Detailed guidance on Part II is detailed below:

Item: Name and specific model (if relevant) of the item of equipment

Vendor: If a preferred vendor is known, this should be stated along with the reasons why. In any case, the mechanism that will be used to identify the preferred supplier should be articulated.

Description: Briefly describe the item of equipment and its primary functions. Please explain how the specifications of the instrument make it different from other similar equipment available for use. The capability of the proposed equipment should be established at this stage: this should be informed by discussion with your user community/industry/vendor.

Timescales: Please describe the timescales associated with procurement of the equipment and when you anticipate you will spend any capital provision made.

Costs: Please ensure the costs are as accurate as possible, and where applicable include dates of quotes from suppliers.

Usage: Indicate the proportion of equipment time that will be available for use by the group managing the equipment, other groups at the same institution, and if applicable, researchers at other institutions. What plans are in place to ensure usage will be maximised, and is there evidence of strong demand? Indicate how additional users of the equipment will be identified and how all users will be prioritised. Information should be provided on the anticipated demand, indicating the likely main users and where they will be based. You should describe how you plan to interact and/or collaborate with key groups or shared facilities in your research area.

Support & Sustainability: Please indicate how the item of equipment will be supported and maintained for the duration of any current or proposed research funding including any costs that would be recouped through charging. In addition, it explains how the item will be replaced at the end of its life.

Strategic Case: Please describe the research enabled by the equipment and/or the value added to existing research programmes. Indicate which of the Departments/Divisions strategic priorities are met by the research enabled by this equipment. Describe how these priorities are met. Explain how the purchase of this item of equipment will compliment or enhance Departmental/Divisional research capability. If an Equipment Roadmap exists for the type of equipment requested, please explain how this item relates to the roadmap.

Ensuring Maximum Value: Explain how the requested equipment will fit with other items of equipment, infrastructure and people support already within your Department and/or Division.

Contribution from Other Sources: Please describe what contributions to the cost, operation or maintenance of the item of equipment will be found from other sources.

Alternatives: In the case that the proposal for equipment is not supported, describe the alternative options for using existing equipment of different specification or at other locations.

The Michaelmas Term 2020 round of the Wellcome Institutional Strategic Support Fund (deadline 12pm on Wednesday 14 October 2020) will be the LAST round of funding allocation from the current block grant from Wellcome. 

Future rounds will be dependent on the receipt of further funding from Wellcome. Future rounds and deadlines will be widely communicated through the usual internal channels.