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Research Catalyst Fund

Research Institutes Catalyst Fund

Brunel Research Institutes operate a scheme for Research Institute members to fund activities that act as a catalyst to the advancement of their careers as researchers. The following schemes are open to all research-active Institute staff:

Research Visibility Award

It is becoming increasingly important for researchers to build an international profile. Networking can build greater visibility and catalyze research links between an Institute and other international centres of excellence. In turn, this can increase opportunities for funding research and potentially lead to enhanced career opportunities. The Research VISA offers research staff financial support (up to £4,000) to attend (or host) a national or international conference, workshop or seminar to present their research, or to deepen networks of contacts through a fully funded visit to a host organization anywhere in the world. The granting of a Research VISA is merit-based and preference will be given to researchers who present a convincing and purposeful case to the Institute Director. Applications will be accepted at any time during the academic year and will be decided by circulation. Recipients of this award will be expected to deliver a Research Seminar detailing their research and outcomes from the award. 

Research Idea Development Award

Research excellence is not only about publishing in internationally excellent outlets, it is also about winning research funding through the development of novel ideas and transformative research projects. The development of such research ideas often requires preliminary data.  Small grants are available (up to £10,000) to support the development of ambitious, high risk, potentially disruptive ideas – to test a hypothesis or idea and gather preliminary data. As with the Research VISA Award, research development through an IDEA Award is merit-based. Proposals must not be a continuation of previous research, but rather be pump priming of a completely new and transformative research idea. Preference will be given to researchers who are able to present a convincing and compelling case to the Institute Management Board. Applications will be accepted at any time during the academic year and will be reviewed on a regular basis by the Institute Management Board (comprising of Directors from each of the Institutes). This funding scheme is intended to be light touch, allowing for a swift response. Successful completion of a Research IDEA Award may lead to an application to the RDF fund (through RSDO) to support further development of the idea into a research proposal.

Interdisciplinary Research Awards

£4,000- £25,000 for pump-priming novel innovative research projects, that are inter-disciplinary in nature and cross the boundaries between traditional disciplines. Applications to this scheme must combine the expertise of two or more researchers, usually members of different Research Institute Themes, and of different Research Institutes. Applications involving partnerships between non-Institute Researchers and Research Institute members are also encouraged. All project ideas must be in line with the research mission of one or more of the Research Institutes. Applications should normally be 2-3 pages long and no more than 5 pages. Short-listed proposers may then be asked to present their proposal to the Institute Management Board. This initiative is not intended to bridge funds for current staff on short-term contracts. Projects would normally be expected to begin within 2 months of notification of an award and run for a maximum of 12 months. Given the limited funds available, projects towards the higher end of this scale would have to have an especially compelling rationale to be successful. Please note, teaching relief is not an allowable cost under this initiative as this is covered under the University’s Research Leave Scheme. Applicants who were unsuccessful in previous rounds can resubmit only if invited to do so. All applicants will be given feedback and may be encouraged to re-formulate their ideas in order to develop new proposals following feedback. Applications may be submitted at any time for review by the Institute Management Board.

How to apply

For further details or to request copies of the application forms, please contact the Brunel Research Institutes Central Support (BRICS) team (

Applications to all three schemes should include a description of the activity for which support is applied, a breakdown of the costs (including a budget forecast), and an explanation of how the proposal fits into and catalyzes the applicant’s Personal (3-year) Research Plan AND Institute Strategy. Applicants are responsible for seeking recommendation for approval of grants from their relevant Theme Leader, prior to submission. An applicant can only submit one project application per academic year. The overall budget for 2016-17 falls in line with the University’s financial year (1st August 2016 to 31st July 2017). The call will remain open during academic year 2016/17 until all funds have been allocated. There are also external sources of funding for some activities. Research Development Office (RSDO) will be able to help researchers identify further funding opportunities.

Recipients of any award will be expected to produce a short report of their activities and may be asked to give a presentation.