Catalyst Seed Fund

Creating a culture where public engagement with research thrives.

The Catalyst Seed Fund (CSF) programme is funded by Research Councils UK (RCUK) and coordinated by the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE).

The programme provides flexible funding directly to 10 higher education institutions to help create a culture where excellent public engagement with research is better embedded within the institution. The funded institutions are supported to develop a strategic approach where public engagement with research is:

  • Supported, valued, and rewarded.
  • Integrated within policies, practices and procedures.

Relevance to me

Whilst it is too late to get funding from their programme, the project is still valuable to anyone working to develop support mechanisms for engagement within their institution. Learning from this project has been synthesised into a report reflecting the dynamics of institutional change, and advice as to where to employ your energy as a change agent.


The Catalyst Seed Fund programme builds on the momentum of other funded programmes seeking to achieve culture change in public engagement with higher education, including:

  • Beacons for Public Engagement
  • Catalysts for Public Engagement with Research


The following higher education institutions are funded through the Catalyst Seed Fund programme:

  • Imperial College London
  • King's College London
  • University of Birmingham
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of Glasgow
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Liverpool
  • University of Oxford
  • University of Southampton
  • University of Warwick

How it works

The support programme includes:

  • Quarterly workshops which take place over two days. The workshops provide an opportunity to take stock, reflect on their journey, share learning and ask critical questions.
  • Ongoing support from the NCCPE project team throughout the funding period.
  • Quarterly and annual reporting of developments, reflecting on the journey so far and planning for the future sustainability of public engagement within the institution.


The Catalyst Seed Fund programme was funded by Research Councils UK. In 2015/2016 the programme provided funds of £65,000 (for 12 months) to each of the 10 designated HEIs. Funding was subsequently confirmed for a further 12 month period from August 2016.

Funding enabled CSF institutions to take stock of their support for public engagement using the NCCPE’s self-assessment EDGE tool and to:

  • Start to create a shared understanding of the purpose, value, meaning and role of public engagement to staff and students within their organisation.
  • Develop a longer-term strategic approach and forward plans to embed public engagement with research across the institution within strategies, policies, structures and processes.
  • Secure high level leadership and buy-in in the form of a senior champion (or champions) for public engagement with research, whom is able to drive strategic and operational change.
  • Implement any areas that can quickly and efficiently target action to make a significant and longer-term difference in embedding public engagement with research within the institution
  • Consider how public engagement capacity can be developed and capabilities of the researchers through support, training and development.
  • Build on their strengths in public engagement and complement other sources of support (e.g. Impact Acceleration Accounts, Higher Education Innovation Funding (HEIF) and the Wellcome Trust’s Institutional Strategic Support Fund (ISSF).
  • Take on board the learning from the Beacons for Public Engagement, Public Engagement Catalysts and the NCCPE in developing best practice to realise culture change.

Find out more

If you would like to find out more information, please see RCUK's website or contact