You must apply through the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system by 16:00 on 28 April 2022.
To create the document in Je-S, you will need to select the following options:
- council: STFC
- document type: standard
- scheme: Public Engagement Awards (2071)
- call name: Spark Awards 2022 A.
Together with the relevant Je-S application form, please attach a ‘case for support’ of no more than six pages in PDF format outlining:
- your track record in communicating science and technology
- your aims, anticipated outcomes and fit with the STFC public engagement strategy and with the STFC Wonder initiative, if relevant
- a clear plan for the activities
- an evaluation plan
- a plan to disseminate resources and outcomes to a wider audience
- the justification for resources requested.
You should also attach letters of support (maximum two pages) from any partners making a contribution to your project.
We recommend you start your application early.
You can save completed details in Je-S at any time and return to continue your application later.
You can find advice on completing your application in the Je-S handbook.
If you are successful in getting funding, we will contact you to help you with the full registration process for Je-S.
Full registration can take four weeks.
Case for support guidance
Together with the relevant Je-S application form, you will need to complete a ‘case for support’ of no more than six pages in PDF format outlining the following.
A short overview of the applicant’s track record in public engagement with science and technology. This track record should focus on areas relevant to the application.
The rationale for the Spark Awards, showing:
Engagement activity plan
A clear plan of the engagement activities the applicant intends to undertake during the Spark Awards.
You should provide details of your plans to deliver these activities, including:
- how they will effectively engage with target audiences
- identification of potential risks and appropriate mitigation strategies.
Reference to COVID-19 and the implications of evolving social distancing should be included here.
STFC acknowledges that audience numbers, particularly in-person, are likely to be substantially reduced as a result of social distancing.
Where part of a clear and purposeful engagement plan, applicants will not be negatively impacted by reduced participant metrics.
An evaluation plan showing details of how the outputs, outcomes, and impacts of the Spark Awards will be captured and evaluated.
Applicants are strongly advised to refer to the STFC public engagement framework.
If successful, we require you to report on the outcomes of your Spark Award in line with the STFC public engagement evaluation framework. We strongly suggest that you familiarise yourself with the framework and consider how it could be used to evaluate your engagement programme.
A dissemination plan detailing how resources, learning outcomes, outputs and so on, will be made available to wider audiences.
Justification of resources
A justification of the resources requested. This may be up to two sides of A4 (of the total six pages for the ‘case for support’). This justifies the requested funds you have applied for in an application and should:
- allow reviewers to make an informed judgement on whether the resources requested are appropriate for the proposed programme
- explain why the resources requested are appropriate for the programme proposed, taking account of the nature and complexity of the proposal.
It should not be simply a list of the resources required as this is already given in the Je-S form.
All items requested in the Je-S form must be justified.
Any proposals from research organisations requesting items that would ordinarily be found in a department, for example non-specialist computers, should include justification both for:
- why they are required for the project
- why they cannot be provided from the research organisation’s own resources (including funding from indirect costs from grants).
Highlighting alignment to the Wonder initiative
You can choose to propose public engagement that works with the target audience of the STFC Wonder initiative. If so, you should use your ‘case for support’ and ‘project partner letters of support’ to highlight how your proposal aligns with the initiative.
Your ‘rationale’ should clearly indicate:
- how the aims and desired outcomes of the Spark Award have been developed in partnership with the selected audience group (to the fullest extent practical, taking account of social distancing and the likely wider capacity reduction in potential partner organisations and groups)
- why the target audience has been selected, and provide a summary of the audience in a way that clearly indicates alignment to the Wonder initiative’s target audience.
The ‘plan for engagement activities’ should show clear evidence of being designed in partnership with the target audiences (to the fullest extent practical, taking account of social distancing and the likely wider capacity reduction in potential partner organisations and groups).
Letters of support will ideally be obtained from partner organisations that will work with the target audience as part of the Spark Awards, detailing how their contribution will help to support a successful programme.
Project partner letters of support
‘Project partner letters of support’ should follow the format set out in the STFC guidance for applicants.
Letters of support can be up to two sides of A4 in length. A letter must be dated clearly, within six months of the submission date of the application.
Letters of support are submitted electronically alongside the grant application, via the Je-S system.
The Je-S system will only allow you to submit three letters of support. If you have more than three letters of support, you can upload these as a combined PDF document or contact the STFC public engagement team.
This letter is read alongside the proposal’s ‘case for support’ and is considered as part of the peer review process.
A well-written letter of support will confirm the organisation’s commitment to the proposed project by articulating:
- the benefits of the collaboration
- its relevance to the partner
- the potential impacts of the programme in the eyes of the partner.
The letter of support should also:
- identify the period of support
- detail the range of ‘in-kind’ and financial contributions offered by the partner.
To provide assurance that the project partner has authorised the proposed contribution or commitment, the letter should be signed by a named contact, stating the capacity in which they are providing the sign-off.
Letters of support must show meaningful contribution to the proposed public engagement programme. Letters featuring supportive language but offering no contributions to the project are of little-to-no value and should not be included.
Should you state in your proposal that the involvement of a party or organisation is important to increase the chances of success of the proposed programme, these organisations must be included as either applicants or project partners.
Applications received without these collaborations in place by the point of submission will not be supported.
There is no capital budget for the Spark Awards.
Items of equipment costing less than £10,000 should be requested under the ‘other costs’ heading. You must show that any requests for equipment are essential for the project.
Contribution to larger programmes
If you are requesting a Spark Award as a contribution to a larger programme, you should make this clear in your proposal. You should also make clear where additional funding for the programme is coming from.
Whenever possible, you should have secured this additional funding before seeking a contribution from STFC. If this is not possible, you must provide details of when further funding will be secured.
STFC reserves the right to reject an application that does not have convincing plans for securing all required funding, or to temporarily withhold funding for successful applications until proof of the required additional funding has been secured.