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INT Research Grants - Eligibility

THIS PAGE WILL BE COMPLETELY REVISED IN APRIL 2017. However, information on these pages will remain valid for applications for up to £60k in support of a research project (or up to £30k for a bridging grant) and the Easter Term round will proceed as usual. But there will be no round for larger Strategic Grants this summer - potential applicants should contact the Director for advice.


The Trust's founding purpose is to support education, learning and research in the University of Cambridge

Any discipline is eligible for funding.  All applications must be made through a body that is a recognised part of the University of Cambridge.   They must be supported by the Head of Department or equivalent; awards will be paid to that body. The Trustees will not normally support research carried out in externally funded institutes, laboratories etc which are not institutions of the University. Eligible Departments are listed at IRCs may apply to one round per year, through the ProViceChancellor for Research, according to the timetable issued by his office. Colleges are eligible to apply for specific institutional research projects, for example relating to their archival collections, but College membership alone does not make an individual eligible for support.

The Trust now receives significantly more applications than it can fund.   It has to prioritise rigorously so that its resources are used to maximum effect.   In order to do this, it needs the cooperation of Departments, particularly in the sciences.    The Trust is happy to give regular grants to the larger scientific Departments, but expects them to prioritise truly significant applications and to try to meet less pressing requests for small sums themselves wherever possible.  Scientific Departments must declare if they have discretionary funding that could be used to assist the project for which they are applying.  In considering each application, the Trust will take into account the support that it has already committed to the applicant. 

So that Departments can decide on their strategy for each Trust application round, the Trust requires applicants to submit their applications direct to each Head of Department three weeks before the final deadline to the Trust.  Departments are required to assess the strategic importance of each application, which may involve conducting their own inquiries into the academic merit of the project.  They are required to rank the applications against those submitted to the Trust in the last two years, according to the Trust’s own criteria.  A questionnaire is provided in the left-hand navigation pane for this purpose.

Who may apply within a university body?

All applicants should read the matching funding criteria.

Early Career Academics

The Trust regards itself as a funder of last resort, and is keen to use its limited resources to support those parts of the University that most urgently need it to promote their research.  Thus it favours applications from outstanding early career academics and others who cannot easily get all the extra funding that they need.

The Trust expects most early career science UTOs in search of start-up funding to apply, where eligible, not to its own research grant scheme, but instead to the joint schemes run by the University's Research Strategy Office for UTOs in the four Science Schools who have only been in post for a couple of years. One is for the Schools of Physical Sciences and Technology and one for the Biological Sciences and Clinical Medicine.  Further details are available on the  INT/WT/ISSF/Joint Research Scheme  and the INT/Cambridge Early Career Support in Physical Sciences and Technology Scheme  webpages. The Trust is supplying funding for both schemes on an experimental basis, as are the Schools and Departments themselves.  It cannot be assumed that the schemes will continue in the longer term.  The schemes give priority to those who have not already received significant funding from other sources.  Early career UTOs who already have external matching funding may wish instead to apply to the Trust’s own competition.  Applicants to either category of scheme must declare all previous funding received from the other type of scheme.

Unsuccessful applicants to these schemes cannot apply to the Trust for grants for the same project. Successful applicants cannot apply to the Trust for matching funding based on these grants, though the Trust is prepared at a later date to consider applications to extend especially promising work that the schemes have funded, in particular circumstances. If in doubt, please consult the Director.

Other Applicants

The Trust does not encourage applications from established academics for their research, when this falls within the remit of Research Councils and other major funding bodies. It expects those researchers to apply to those bodies for the full amount of funding that a project requires (including full economic costs). Only if there is a requirement for a University contribution, which cannot be fully met from elsewhere, might the Trust be willing to consider offering part of the necessary contribution.  The Trust may in exceptional cases be willing to make a top-up grant if projects only attract partial Research Council funding, or if projects evolve over time in exciting ways that could not have been foreseen. The Trust will not support projects for which Research Council money has run out through bad project planning. The Trust itself cannot help applicants in attracting external funding.

Nor does the Trust expect senior academics who already have programme grants to apply to it for the support of junior researchers, in normal circumstances.  However there will be occasions when such applications are appropriate, but a case must be made that other resources are genuinely unavailable, the project is outstanding, and retention of the individuals is of clear strategic benefit to the Department or lab or the wider Cambridge community.

The Trust occasionally makes grants to emeritus researchers who would otherwise lack the funds to cover research costs. However, researchers in this position should first try to obtain funding by other means, particularly, if eligible, the emeritus awards available from the Leverhume Trust.

Unless a special case is made, the Trust does not give grants for products for commercial exploitation. On the other hand, it has given short-term grants to various pro bono projects which have been set up to disseminate the results of University research to a wider educational audience, while they seek longer-term external funding.

The Trust encourages Departments, particularly in the Arts and Social Sciences, to make creative use of one-off external awards that they may receive for high-quality research, such as the Leverhulme Prizes. Intelligently targeted applications for Trust matching funding might then allow the project to be carried out on a more ambitious scale. Trust support will – as always - be dependent on the intellectual rationale for the project in general and the specific part of it for which Trust support is sought.

Which elements of a project will the Trust fund?


The Trust's grants aim to fund people.  Most grants go towards the salaries of post-doctoral and other early career academic researchers who are employed on a project overseen by a Principal Investigator (often him/herself at an early career stage).  Applicants may not apply for their own salaries.

The Trust only supports post-doctoral researchers who are engaged in projects of broad significance for a Department or lab - for example, projects that will assist its intellectual profile and/or facilitate future external funding bids.  It will take into account the publication record of post-doctoral researchers in deciding whether to support them.  It is not in a position to provide post-doctoral funding in general, except through its support for early career fellowship schemes.

The Trust prioritises support for early-career post-doctoral researchers, just as it does early-career PIs. It does not encourage applications to support post-doctoral researchers who received the PhD more than ten years before the date of application, unless they have had a career break - and it would need an exceptional case to be made.

NB the Trust expects post-doctoral salaries to be paid on the RA grade, grade 7, between points 39 and 43 depending on experience. If a Department wishes to  pay at point 45 or above, then the difference should be made up from another source.

The Trust is occasionally willing to grant salary costs to researchers who did not gain a PhD qualification but are otherwise highly skilled, but only where this is specifically justified, and as part of a broader project of advanced quality.  Trust research grants are never given for PhD students.  The Trust will not permit an awardee to start receiving a grant before their PhD thesis is submitted.

The Trust will only support the salaries of people who are to be employed by the University or its constituent parts. This means that the Trust will not normally pay for work to be outsourced to another institution (though it recognises that in some cases, such as fieldwork overseas, there may be an element of collaboration with agencies on the ground; to the extent that this is necessary it must be explained in full in the application).  The Trust will not support work done by employees of other institutions unless they also have official employment status in Cambridge, nor will it help to pay costs associated with short-term academic visitors to the University.

The Trust does not give grants to supplement salaries of permanent University staff, but occasionally gives modest assistance to supplement low salaries of overseas academics who are on official secondment to the University, if a case can be made.

Other Elements

The Trust prefers to pay a portion of the salary costs rather than to support the travel or consumable portion of the project budget. Modest support for research travel and for project consumables will only be considered if these are an essential part of the project and a special and precise case is made for them, showing that they cannot be funded from elsewhere.  The Trust may possibly be willing to pay for consumables in cases where these are explicitly excluded from an external research award, but if the department is receiving overheads from such an award it would expect the department to pay these costs.

The Trust does not fund departmental or laboratory overheads or charges, and never funds conferences. Nor does it fund technicians, believing that Departments and external agencies should pay for those.

The Trust does not give grants towards the publication of books, CDs or other research ouput.

Funding for Equipment

Funding for equipment is a low priority, but Trustees are willing to consider applications for urgently-needed new equipment of major strategic value to the University or new equipment for teaching. At least two-thirds of the cost must be secured from other sources, and the equipment must have multiple uses, for more than one lab or Department.  In these cases there will normally be large-scale external funding and a required internal contribution, and the Trust expects to see Departments sharing largely in the internal contribution.

The Trust is also willing to give loans for equipment and for technical support in cases where applicants can be confident that these costs can be repaid from future external grants.

The Trust does not encourage applications for equipment grants in connection with projects that are funded by the Research Councils. This is because applicants should instead apply to the University Capital Fund managed by the Resource Management Committee in the Planning and Resources Allocation Office, which gives help with bids to Research Councils for equipment items over £120k.

Applicants in need of advice about a project’s eligibility should email the Director.