2020-21 Seedcorn guidelines, checklist and application questions

If you would find it useful, here is a PDF version of the Seedcorn guidelines, checklist and application questions: 

2020-21 Seedcorn guidelines checklist and questions (PDF, 203kB)


This is an opportunity for mixed teams of researchers to carry out risky, experimental, and exploratory projects to take the first steps in developing and pursuing new research questions. We especially welcome applications from teams that might find it difficult to find early-stage funding because of the novelty of the ideas, methods or approaches. 

As well as the application guidelines, this page includes a checklist and the application form questions

Key bits: 

  • Closing date: Wednesday 3 February 2020 at 4pm
  • Funding limits: £4000-£7000 per award
  • Number of awards: around 10
  • Outcomes: by Friday 19 February 2021
  • Initial meeting of all awards: Wednesday 10 March 1pm to 3pm (online)
  • Period of research/making: March - October 2021

A bit about the Brigstow Institute

Brigstow brings researchers from different disciplines together with a range of partners across the city and beyond to experiment in new ways of living and being. Our research is underpinned by a commitment to a distinctive way of working that foregrounds interdisciplinary and co-produced research with - and not just for - external partners, and an emphasis on critical making as a research methodology. 

What Brigstow is looking for in a seedcorn application: aims and values

Funds are available to initiate and develop partnerships to undertake early-stage, experimental research pilots. This funding is also suitable if you have received Ideas Exchange or network funding from us before and are now ready to embark upon testing those ideas through a seedcorn research project. 

We expect all seedcorn projects to be driven by a research question that is co-created by everyone involved in the project. Depending on the research question, the research may need a range of disciplines in the university (interdisciplinarity) and/or might require diverse partners within and outside the university working together (co-production) to bring their different knowledge and expertise to bear. Projects should be co-created, co-designed and co-led, and we value co-making as part of the research process. We encourage project teams to aspire to equity amongst the team members with everyone's expertise respected, and trust and open communication across the team. 

The following outlines what Brigstow means by interdisciplinary and co-produced research that involves critical making as part of its process:

Interdisciplinary research

(Or trans-disciplinary, multi-disciplinary or omni-disciplinary research) brings together people with different knowledge, expertise, skills and ideas. We are particularly interested in bringing university researchers from different schools or faculties together for the first time to undertake seedcorn projects (for example literary scholars and mathematicians in Maths Poems, or vets and social scientists in Poo Patrol).

Co-produced research

Values that knowledge takes many forms and lies within different areas and people. With co-produced research, the framing of the research question is driven equally by the needs of the external partner and the university partners. It recognises that multiple expertise is necessary to undertake research, and that this is especially the case with the 'Living Well' remit that characterises Brigstow. Here lived knowledge is as important as academic knowledge (for example social and literary historians and a community arts charity in Telling Stories about Learning Difficulties, or public health researchers, sociologists, medical educationalists, community groups and individuals in How do you Move?)

Critical making 

Moves beyond talking together, to making together as a process in the research project. It invites people to think creatively and value the process of making over and above what is made. Don't underestimate the value of using an object or space to elevate beyond language and to communicate ideas within and beyond the project group. 

Further examples of the projects that Brigstow has funded so far can be found at www.bristol.ac.uk/brigstow/projects

Is your research idea ready for seedcorn funding? 

It takes time to develop the ideas - if discussions are at an early stage and you are still confirming partners and need resources to adequately co-create a research agenda and research questions, you might want to consider the ideas exchange first. 

We've put together some Words of Wisdom from previous Brigstow seedcorn project teams that might help guide you when planning your project. 

About this funding

A total of ~£50k is likely to be available to share between the projects under this call. This will be distributed between the highest-ranked projects (assessed by the Brigstow Steering Group). The closing date is Wednesday 3 February 2021 at 4pm.

Funding Available

Typically £4,000-£7,000 per grant, although larger bids of up to £10k will be considered. Funding can be used to buy in expertise (for example, you may need to pay an artist or community partner; please consider VAT when working out the cost - see paragraph 7 of the Checklist for more details), pay for researchers (both within and external to the university and including research associates and students), hardware costs, consumables (such as the costs of your project team meetings) or travel needed to work together. Unfortunately, the funding cannot be used to buy out full-time academic staff time. 

The university partner will need to submit an outline budget with the application and will be expected to complete a full financial costing on Worktribe (the university's finance system for projects) if successful. Guidance can be found on the Finance and HR Systems SharePoint site for University of Bristol staff. 

Projects must meet the following - these will be used as assessment criteria for the call: 

  • All applications must reflect Brigstow's emphasis on 'critical making' as a team and adopt an interdisciplinary and/or co-produced research approach depending on the research question. 
  • Applications must be in keeping with the Brigstow Institute's broad focus on how we live well in the 21st century. This might include how we live well with technology, with difference, in a post-Covid world. We've also supported activities around dying well, eating well, living well in older age and living well with the past - anything that critically explores and experiments with how we live well together will be considered. 
  • Given the focus on human experience/living well, we expect to see arts/humanities researchers and/or social scientists as members of interdisciplinary research teams. 
  • The minimum requirement for a project to be eligible is that we would normally expect a minimum of three researchers to be involved (made up of a mix of university, community and creative researchers) all bringing different knowledge, expertise, ideas and skills to the project. At least one of the university researchers must be based at the University of Bristol for the project to be eligible for financial accountability:
    • Brigstow encourages applications from any University of Bristol academic staff who consider themselves research active. We particularly welcome applications from colleagues who have not yet been a principal investigator on a research grant. If you are a part-time member of academic staff you might want to cost your time in, although you will not be eligible to manage the budget. If you are in any doubt about your eligibility, please speak to us first. 
  • Outputs can take any and many forms and we are keen that teams think creatively about how to communicate their findings, whether that be the process or a specific output. Outputs can include, for example, toolkits, artefacts, texts, performances, exhibitions, objects, blog posts, working papers, interventions, applications for further funding etc. but we strongly encourage all teams to make something - which will be very much a 'prototype' - together. 
    • While a product is acceptable as an output, seedcorn funding should not be seen as a source of funding for product development only. We are interested in helping new teams work together on co-produced and interdisciplinary research rather than funding the knowledge exchange or impact of existing research, or public engagement activities without a research component. 
  • If you are successful, we will expect all projects and their team members to attend an online seedcorn cohort meeting on Wednesday 10 March 1pm to 3pm

How to apply

To apply, please look at the checklist below and then complete the online form accessible by clicking this link. There are instructions with the form online. You can view the Application Form Questions later in this document. If you have any problems using the form, please contact hello-brigstow@bristol.ac.uk as soon as possible. 

There will be opportunities to meet and discuss potential projects with Brigstow colleagues at one of the following online drop-in sessions

  • Morning drop-in: Wednesday 25 November 2020: Event now closed
  • Afternoon drop-in: Thursday 3 December 2020: Event now closed
  • Afternoon drop-in: Thursday 17 December 2020: Event now closed
  • Morning drop-in: Monday 18 January 2021 - book a slot on Eventbrite

If you are new to research and want to find out more about identifying a research question, pulling together a research team and thinking about relevant methods, then we'd love you to join us for a short online workshop exploring this on one of the following dates - numbers are limited!

  • Thursday 26 November 2020 (3-4pm): Event now closed
  • Tuesday 8 December 2020 (1:30pm-2:30pm): Event now closed

We are also available if you have any questions or want to discuss your idea for a project and can't make it to the drop-in sessions or workshops. Please contact either Gail Lambourne, Brigstow Institute Manager gail.lambourne@bristol.ac.uk or Tim Cole, Brigstow Institute Director tim.cole@bristol.ac.uk.

Closing date: 4pm Wednesday 3 February 2021

Outcomes communicated via email: shortly after Wednesday 17 February 2021

We envisage a period of research/making, which can span the summer period, from March 2021 to October 2021 (we will work with successful applicants to ensure the budget is available as necessary across the two financial years). 

Words of Wisdom

The following are Words of Wisdom that were offered by previous Brigstow seedcorn projects and might help guide you when planning your project. 

  • Be clear at the application stage about how much time the project will take, what the contribution of each team member will be and what other resources you might need. Remember that not all time across the university and beyond is equal. 
  • It is good to have commitment to the project from all team members. Projects should be co-created and co-led. 
  • Rather than consider a university researcher as a 'lead' in name only, ensure all members of the team are involved in all parts of the research process. If you want someone to be involved but they can't commit the same amount of time as the rest of the team, why not include them as a critical friend instead? 
  • Ideas should flow between all team members - avoid one-way flow of information and ideas. The knowledge generated by the project should be mutually beneficial. 
  • Be prepared to step outside of your discipline and experiment with methods and approaches, and output formats you may not have worked with before. 
  • Don't underestimate the value of frequent, face-to-face meetings with the team. Remember that there is value and learning from those discussions, as well as pursuing the project itself. 
  • The projects are generative - while there might be some immediate outputs, many projects have taken months, or even years for the research to develop, secure further funding, crystalise approaches, and create hard outputs. 


You might not need to include all of the following points in your application, but it's critical that you discuss and agree them with the whole team before submitting your application. In the application form, you'll be asked to check each point to let us know you've read and understood them. 

  1. Do you all agree on the idea for the application and submitting the application to Brigstow? Have you discussed roles and responsibilities, how the decision making process will take place and how to resolve differences? 
  2. How are you going to work together? How often are you going to meet (and who's going to organise the meetings)? Do any of your team or collaborators or audiences have specific access requirements? When will you review progress and amend, if necessary, what you're planning to do? 
  3. Have you discussed what data you will be collecting? Who will own it? Who will deal with the ethics application? 
  4. Have you discussed what information or produce will be generated? Who will own it? What intellectual property (IP) does each party bring to the project? Have you all looked at the University of Bristol guidance on IP? 
  5. Have you discussed the outputs of the project? Remember that there can be various outputs but be realistic about what can be achieved. Have you agreed who takes responsibility for certain outputs and what each person will contribute towards them? 
  6. Have you all agreed who will be paid and when? How much will different people be paid and what needs to be delivered before payments are made? 
  7. Have you estimated the cost of the involvement of the team accurately? Remember that these awards are cash limited so for the purposes of costing the project, non-university partners will need to be clear about whether they are self-employed and/or VAT registered, or whether they are eligible to be engaged as a casual worker on the project (and be registered with the university's Temporary Staffing Service (TSS)). We're just asking for an outline budget at this stage but if you're successful, you'll be expected to complete a full financial costing on Worktribe (the university's finance system for projects)
    • If a partner charges VAT, this must be included in the costings, as does the holiday pay/national insurance costs for anyone registered with the TSS. For university researchers, you will need to consider your time commitment to the project and how this will work with your other university commitments.
    • Regarding VAT, remember that the awards from Brigstow are cash limited and we are unable to claim VAT back, so if you agree to pay your research partner £1000 and they are not VAT registered, they receive £1000. If your partner is VAT registered, they will have to pay VAT on their £1000 so they will, in effect, only receive around £800. If you want them to receive £1000 you will need to cost them in at £1000 + 20% = £1200. We cannot increase the amount of the award later if you forget to include the VAT. If you are in any doubt, please contact us before you submit your application
  8. Have you costed in your meetings accurately? This will include any costs for non-university partners/research assistants to attend the meetings. 
  9. Have you discussed any plans for what might happen if the application is unsuccessful or what might happen after the project, if it is funded? 

Application Form Questions

As well as asking for the names and contact details of the project team members and who the budget holder will be, the application form asks the following questions: 

  • What is the research project? What are the initial research questions that you want to explore? How will you go about answering them? Why do they matter? How does your project help understand how we live well in the 21st Century? Max 500 words
  • Who is involved? What knowledge and expertise do the different members of your interdisciplinary and/or co-produced team bring? Why do you want to work together? Max 500 words
  • What will you be making together? This is an opportunity to think creatively. Toolkits, artefacts, texts, performances exhibitions objects, blog posts, working papers, interventions, applications for further funding are all acceptable outputs for the research project but we strongly encourage all teams to make something and document the process! Max 500 words
  • What funding do you require? Please give an outline cost breakdown and justification of individual items. Please remember to cost in VAT if applicable and think about the amount of time and cost per day for artists. Max 300 words

You will also be asked to confirm that you have discussed and agreed the following points: 

  • If you are successful in your application, we would like to feature your work on the Brigstow Institute website and in publications. This includes not only any direct outputs of the research but also the learning from the process. We would also like a couple of short blog posts on Brigstow's blog - one during and one at the end of the project. Please check the box to indicate that the team understand the need to contribute towards these. 
  • If funded, Brigstow will create an initial project web page for you on the Brigstow website using information from your application. 
  • We will invite all seedcorn teams to attend a cohort meeting on Wednesday 10 March 1pm to 3pm. This is an opportunity for teams to meet face to face and work together, sometimes for the first time, and to receive guidance on contracts, IP and finance, as well as hearing from other teams and their plans. Please check the box to indicate that the whole team understand they will need to attend. 
  • By submitting this form you confirm that your Head of School supports this activity taking place, as do the relevant responsible persons at your co-researchers' school/external partners. Please check the box to confirm this. 
Edit this page