Research Staff Development

Fellowships and Funding

Image of student in lab growing crystals.

Research Fellowships

Research Fellowships are individual awards aimed at developing or enhancing your research career. Early Career fellowships support you to become an independent researcher. They are fixed-term awards to enable individual researchers to perform a piece of original research. Fellowships are available from a wide range of funders and schemes differ significantly, so you need to look carefully at each scheme’s specific requirements and criteria.

Where to find Fellowships

If you wish to apply for a Fellowship at Loughborough University (and are employed as an academic or a researcher), we advise you discuss this either with the Research Development Manager (RDM) aligned to your School in the first instance, or with the Research Development Manager with responsibility for Fellowships. A list of RDMs can be found here. The RDMs can help you to:

  1. Identify the most suitable funding opportunities.
  2. Advise on building a track record, including helping to identify potential sources for smaller amounts of funding (e.g. via charities or learned societies).
  3. Support the development of a funding application.

In addition, Loughborough University subscribes to Research Professional, a research funding database which enables all academics, research staff and PhD students to search for funding opportunities. You can log on using your Loughborough University single sign on credentials, which will enable you to save opportunities and create weekly funding alerts. If you have any questions about using the service, please contact either your School Research Development Manager, or Dr Adam Warren (

Once you have identified funders and schemes of interest to you, do set up email alerts (where available) via the funders’ websites and follow the funder via their relevant social media channels.

However, these are a few general points to consider:

Finding the right funder

  • There are many learned societies, charities and industrial organisations in the UK and abroad offering fellowship funding. Ensure that you are eligible to apply (check with funding body if necessary).
  • Sign up for email alerts from funding bodies of particular interest to you. You can also use databases such as Research Professional.
  • Think about your project, it needs to be novel and exciting to you and the funding body – discuss this with senior colleagues.
  • Talk to researchers who have had success with Fellowship funding and attend the Fellowship Inaugural Lecture series (or watch recordings of past lectures).
  • Ensure you have the support of your School and the University before applying. There may be a cap on the number of applicants the University is allowed to submit to a call, or the University may undertake an internal sift and peer review process.  Check early with the Research and Enterprise Office if this will be the case, to allow yourself time to prepare.

Early Steps

  • Study the funding source, target your proposal to the call and strategies. Ensure the funder is compatible with the mission or objectives of your School.
  • Ensure you request your statement of support as early as you can (a letter of support is not trivial).
  • Contact Research and Enterprise Office about costings and confirm internal submission procedure.
  • Find a mentor to give you support during the process.
  • Make contact with potential collaborators early to discuss ideas and possible support, make clear what their contribution to the project will be including letters of support to be included with the application.

Writing your proposal

  • Allow plenty of time for preparation!
  • Complete an online Request for Support for help with costings and with obtaining the necessary approvals to submit your bid.
  • Read the rules and guidance notes, check the funding level.
  • Discuss the application with peer groups and colleagues; ask colleagues to critically review the proposal, not just read it.
  • Check the formatting requirements e.g. font size, page limits.


  • Some Fellowship processes have an interview stage; mock interviews can be arranged for applicants who reach this stage.
  • Check the required format and content of any presentation you have to deliver.
  • Research the panel membership if possible and be aware of the wider context of your research.
  • Ask current/past fellows for advice on the interview process.

Increase your chances of success

  • Demonstrate a strong track record, especially publications (quality - top journals for field - as well as quantity).
  • Convince the funder of your ‘unique selling point’ and how it fits with their funding scheme.
  • Demonstrate your research independence and justify your choice of institution (expertise, facilities, potential collaborators).
  • Show how the fellowship will develop you as a researcher and how it will shape your career.

Funding opportunities

A selection of funders offering Fellowships are listed below. For further information, please contact your Research Development Manager in the first instance; you may then be redirected to a specific RDM for dedicated Fellowship support.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)

UKRI is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). It brings together the seven disciplinary Research Councils, which also have their own Fellowship Schemes.

EU Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions

Supports researchers at all stages of their careers, across all disciplines, regardless of age and nationality.

Leverhulme Trust

Funds ‘outstanding scholarship, while maintaining a distinctive role within the research funding landscape’.

Wellcome Trust

Research to ‘improve health and save lives’.

Royal Academy of Engineering

Training, supporting, mentoring and funding the most talented and creative researchers, innovators and leaders from across the engineering profession.

Royal Society

Supports research in the remit of natural sciences, which includes (but is not limited to) biological research, chemistry, engineering, mathematics and physics.