The Foundation's funding of scientific research is based on the underlying philosophy that funding the most outstanding science – whether fundamental or applied – is the route to the most significant (if often unpredictable) impact. Our research funding spans both biological and physical sciences, and we are also committed to funding fundamental research as well as more applied or clinical research.

We support institutions conducting excellent scientific research* to improve and develop research infrastructure. Grants are awarded towards new buildings, refurbishments and new equipment. Our broad aims are: 

  1. Expansion of high quality research into new scientific fields or an increased output from existing research (including new collaborations)
  2. Improved quality of research
  3. Production of scientific work with a clear impact, benefitting either the academic community or the general public

*defined as internationally competitive

The Foundation has direct funding relationships with research intensive universities and generally does not fund through conduit research charities. As with all applications from universities, projects should be a priority for the institution and signed off by the Vice-Chancellor. Wherever possible, applications should also be coordinated through the Development Office. We welcome a dialogue with institutions about their priorities for research infrastructure funding prior to an application being submitted.


A full list of exclusions can be found here.

Please note that universities should not apply more frequently than once every two years, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Applications for this programme can be made via the link to the right.

Through our partnership programmes and initiatives we also provide more targeted funding. Since 1998 the Foundation has funded a programme of laboratory refurbishment, administered by the Royal Society on a specific annual research theme, generally cutting across disciplines. Examples of recent themes include imaging, nanotechnology and medical materials.

Another major area of investment, also in collaboration with the Royal Society, are Wolfson Merit Awards: a five year salary enhancement to outstanding scientists with the aim of recruiting them to or retaining them in the UK.

A rigorous peer review system is central to all of our grant-making and forms the basis of our decision making. Details of our application review process are outlined here.

The Foundation supports the Association of Medical Research Charities’ position on the use of animals in research:


Click below for our online
stage 1 application form

Please ensure you have first read the relevant programme section and general advice on applying, via the menus to the left.