The Royal Society and Wolfson Foundation today launch the Royal Society Wolfson Fellowship Scheme to enable universities and research institutions to recruit and retain outstanding research scientists.

Initially the £8 million funding* programme which replaces the Wolfson Research Merit Award will provide long-term support to UK universities and research institutions in making strategic research appointments, particularly when recruiting from outside of the UK. The support will help recruit overseas researchers or retain scientists of outstanding achievement and potential to the UK sciences.

The scheme will have an even stronger focus on helping institutions in recruiting outstanding senior researchers from overseas by providing up to £250,000 over five years. Retention of outstanding researchers will remain a feature of this programme and up to £150,000 over five years will be available for such cases. This enhanced funding support can be used flexibly by the awardee to include salary enhancement, research expenses and support for their team.

Paul Ramsbottom, Chief Executive of the Wolfson Foundation said, “There has never been a more important time for UK universities to proclaim that they are global organisations – recruiting the highest quality talent from across the world. This newly launched programme is an opportunity for them to do exactly that. The Wolfson Foundation is delighted to be carrying on a long tradition of working in partnership with the Royal Society to the benefit of scientific research across the UK.”

Dr Julie Maxton CBE Executive Director of the Royal Society said, “We are pleased to be working in partnership with the Wolfson Foundation to facilitate the attraction and retention of some of the best international talent to UK science. It is essential that the UK continues to offer outstanding scientists access to flexible funding which enables them to deliver their high quality research.”

The aims of the programme are to:

  • Strengthen research in the UK’s best university departments and research institutions in fields considered to be strategically important by the institution.
  • Enable UK universities and research institutions to attract to the UK outstanding researchers from overseas in strategic areas.
  • Help maintain the strength of the best research departments in UK universities and research institutions by ensuring that they can retain their most talented scientists in strategic areas.
  • Provide flexible funding to excellent research leaders including established scientists whose career is on a steep upward trajectory, to conduct high-quality research.


The funding covers all areas of the life and physical sciences, including engineering, but excludes clinical medicine.

Find further details about the Awards, including information on how to apply and the assessment criteria.

Further information about the scheme

  • More information can be found on The Royal Society website.
  • The Royal Society Wolfson Fellowships replace what was known as the Wolfson Research Merit Awards.
  • *The £8 million funding is made up of £4 million from the Wolfson Foundation and £4 million from a BEIS grant to the Royal Society.
  • The additional support can be used not only to contribute to the salary enhancement of the awardee (up to a maximum of 20% of the total salary) but can also be used flexibly by the awardee to support members of their team and pay for research expenses such as equipment, travel and studentships. For retention cases, up to £150,000 can be requested which can also be used flexibly by the award-holder to enhance their salary, support their research programme and team.
  • Assessment of applications include the research track record of the candidate and the strategic case for the nomination and fit to the institution’s scientific strategy. Nominations from the Vice Chancellor or Institute Director must be framed against a strong strategic case, explaining how the appointment will fit with the institution’s scientific strategy. The application must also include the potential benefit and impact the nominated candidate will have on UK science.


About the Royal Society

The Royal Society is a self-governing Fellowship of many of the world’s most distinguished scientists drawn from all areas of science, engineering, and medicine. The Society’s fundamental purpose, as it has been since its foundation in 1660, is to recognise, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity.