The British Science Association (BSA) is delighted to announce that our partners at Wellcome have agreed to extend the funding for The Ideas Fund for a further three years, enabling us to continue supporting the work in each of the Fund’s four geographical areas, as well as strengthening the BSA’s approach to working alongside communities. 

Launched in January 2021, The Ideas Fund is a grants programme, delivered by the BSA with support from Wellcome, which connects community groups with researchers to explore ideas related to improving mental wellbeing and diversifying the voices within health research in the Scottish Highlands and Islands, North West Northern Ireland, Oldham, and Hull.

Building on the success of The Ideas Fund so far, this next phase of the programme will include:

  • Further local grant funding for the community organisations and Universities that have previously been awarded grants, so that they are able to embed and sustain their impact in the longer term. 
  • An increased emphasis on gathering evidence and sharing best practice about community-led partnerships with the BSA’s and Wellcome’s networks. 
  • Developing the BSA’s role as a champion of this community-led approach amongst key stakeholders, such as funders and policymakers.  

Hannah Russell, Chief Executive of the British Science Association, said: 

We are delighted that we will continue to work alongside Wellcome on this pivotal programme over the next three years. The Ideas Fund has demonstrated that by putting communities at the very heart of a grants programme, and being led by their needs rather than those of the systems around them, this can result in a wide range of impacts beyond anything we had originally planned for. We are incredibly excited to see what the next phase of this programme will bring, and I look forward to working with our partners in the wider sector as we start to build on the learning we have gained over recent years.

As part of the next phase of the programme, the BSA have embarked on a process of refreshing the impact framework for the Fund, which it intends to use when making decisions on how future funding will be distributed. The evidence and learning from these grants will be shared widely with others, contributing to the growing interest in supporting more equitable partnerships between communities and researchers. This work will be supported by Collaborate CIC, who have been appointed as the learning partner for this next phase of work.

To date, the Fund has supported more than 70 projects, totalling around £4 million, with a focus on addressing the systemic challenges that community groups and researchers can face in working together. Funded projects feature a broad range of topics from sport, nature and nutrition to issues faced by the disabled, refugees, LGBTQ+ communities, veterans, vulnerable young women, cancer survivors, and those living with experiences of addiction. 

Greer Roberts, Funding & Partnerships Lead in the Community Engagement and Campaigns Team at Wellcome said:

We’re delighted to support The Ideas Fund which will continue to support the programme and further develop the BSA's role. The Ideas Fund places resources with communities first and has created trusted and equitable relationships between communities and researchers. It’s a model that is creating significant impacts and value, we’ve seen ambitious ideas and sustainability; shifts in research questions and practice. And debates and testing of how to shift barriers within research. We’re looking forward to following the journey of this next phase.

The Ideas Fund has already led to several significant examples of impact, both for community partners and for researchers themselves, many of which have been documented in the recently published Insights Report.

The BSA are keen to connect with anyone that is interested in learning more about community-led approaches to researcher collaborations, or supporting the next phase of the programme. If you would like to know more about our plans for The Ideas Fund, please contact [email protected]

Visit The Ideas Fund website