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About the scheme

The Institutional Strategic Support Fund (ISSF) provides UK-based universities with an opportunity to invest in strategic areas of importance across their portfolio.

We have secured £3.5m over five years (2016- 2021) from the Wellcome Trust through the ISSF. The College of Biomedical and Life Sciences (BLS) will provide £3.5m match funded.

Our new award, ISSF3, focuses on:

  • enabling researchers to transition to the next career stage, catalysed by the successful delivery of innovative new science and public engagement
  • building new cross-disciplinary research opportunities and teams across the College, and beyond
  • supporting talented individuals to come back to the University, whether from other Institutions or after a career break
  • providing our early career researchers with skill enhancement, engagement training and career-enabling network opportunities
  • delivering innovative engagement activities which provide high-quality experiences for the recipient, as well as the researcher.

Explore current opportunities and find out how to apply.

Early Career Researchers

ISSF3 will have dedicated Early Career Researcher (ECR) funding aimed at supporting:

  • scientific skill enhancement
  • work experience outside of the Institution, including with pharma, industry, or government
  • networking opportunities
  • preliminary data collection to support first grants
  • public engagement training and delivery.

A new College ECR Lead will oversee this activity, with feedback provided to ECRs applying for schemes, as well as grant mentorship to help boost successful ISSF3 outcomes. Engagement training will build confidence, understanding and experience, generating scientists who, from very early on in their careers, can act as ambassadors for public engagement.

ECRs will be actively mentored to enhance their success in obtaining awards, and translating outcomes into external funding. This mentoring will be provided by an ISSF3-linked ECR mentoring committee, helping facilitate a culture whereby experienced researchers enable the success of our younger academics.

Equality and diversity

Equality and diversity will be embedded in the delivery of our ISSF3 ensuring that we include and represent all researchers in the College. Panel Members will undergo training on equality and diversity, and working with the University Equality & Diversity Team, we will pilot a new Institutional approach to equality and diversity monitoring of internal research calls, from panel membership to successful outcomes.

An Equality and Diversity Lead will report our pilot to the University Equality and Diversity Committee, thereby informing the development of new policies around internal funding calls across the University.

As part of ISSF3, we are also looking to boost engagement in the scheme from individuals who have taken a career break, and who need time – back in the research environment – to develop their confidence, knowledge and research skills to be competitive for postdoctoral, fellowship or lecturer positions.


Our ISSF3 public engagement will be delivered as an embedded career activity, supporting enhanced engagement skills across the academic lifespan, mirroring the approach implemented for research. A dedicated College Engagement Officer will work closely with the University Engagement Team and a new ISSF3 Academic Engagement Lead to develop a cohesive College Engagement Strategy.

Our ambition is to unite researchers around synergistic engagement goals, encourage a dialogue-based approach and enhance the quality and value of the engagement experience for the recipient, as well as the researcher.