Joint National Funding Call Frequently Asked Questions

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1. Why do Sparks and Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity have a joint funding call?

In February 2017, Sparks joined Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity under a subsidiary model. Both organisations have a shared passion and commitment to support paediatric research. Through this partnership we aim to drive more funds and awareness into paediatric health research across the UK. As part of integrating our activities we combined our national funding rounds into a single joint national funding call in child health research. We have run three successful joint competitive calls for national funding and have made 37 awards totalling £6,604,043.

2. What is the remit of the call?

We are inviting project grant applications for paediatric health research studies focusing on complex or rare diseases. The call will support research across the spectrum of medical conditions affecting the foetus, neonates and children directly, as well as pregnancy disorders that affect the child. This year, we will also consider applications seeking to understand how COVID-19 affects children, particularly in the context of pre-existing diseases or conditions.
All projects must aim to improve understanding of the disease or associated conditions or to improve outcomes for the affected child. Research proposals will be expected to have the potential to lead to new medical developments, such as diagnostic tools or novel interventions, with a clear articulation of the route to clinical application through a combination of clinical and laboratory-based research.
If you are unsure whether your work would fit the remit of this call we encourage you to contact the GOSH Charity Grants team through

3.  Who are your research partners and is the process for applications in these areas different?

We are proud to partner with a number of rare disease organisations this year: Acrodysostosis Support and Research, Dravet Syndrome UK, Krabbe UK, and the Myotubular Trust. These partnerships offer us the possibility of making joint awards in these specific disease areas. Applications in research partner areas will not have a separate application or assessment process. All applications fitting the remit of the call, including those focusing on one of the research partner areas, will be assessed in open competition.

4. Is this funding call open to researchers across the UK or just researchers at Great Ormond Street Hospital and the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health?

This is a national funding call and is open to independent researchers from institutions across the UK proposing original research within the established remit.

5. Do I need to have a co-applicant from Great Ormond Street Hospital and/or UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health to apply?

No. For this funding call you do not need to have a co-applicant or collaborator from Great Ormond Street Hospital or UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health to be eligible to apply. 

6. Is the majority of this funding awarded to at Great Ormond Street Hospital and the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health? Do you have information about success rates for funding applications?

No, funding is awarded nationally and based exclusively on the quality of the proposed work. In 2017/18, 64% of grants were awarded to institutions outside GOSH/ICH. For 2018/19 and for 2019/20 the numbers were 67% and 56%, respectively. Success rates at each application stage are shown in the tables below:

Outline Applications Full Applications Awarded




Applications from GOSH/ICH 27% (22)

Applications from other institutions 73% (60)

Applications from GOSH/ICH 42% (13)

Applications from other institutions 58% (18)

Applications from GOSH/ICH 44% (5)

Applications from other institutions 56% (6)

Outline Applications Full Applications Awarded




Applications from GOSH/ICH 24% (20)

Applications from other institutions 76% (63)

Applications from GOSH/ICH 29% (9)

Applications from other institutions 71% (22)

Applications from GOSH/ICH 33% (4)

Applications from other institutions 67% (8)

Outline Applications Full Applications Awarded




Applications from GOSH/ICH 30% (42)

Applications from other institutions 70% (100)

Applications from GOSH/ICH 36% (13)

Applications from other institutions 64% (23)

Applications from GOSH/ICH 36% (5)

Applications from other institutions 64% (9)


7.  Will you be running the Sparks Rare Disease Conference Fund?

This year we will not be running the Sparks Rare Disease Conference fund. Instead we will allow applicants to request up to £5,000 toward the organisation of conferences and scientific or clinical workshops in support of rare diseases which bring together clinicians, families and scientists to share insights and inspire scientists with the experience of families and clinicians. If invited for a full application, applicants will have to provide justification for the event they are organising, an outline of their plans and to provide a detailed breakdown of associated costs. If successful in securing the award, applicants will also be expected to provide updates on progress and information regarding the results and impact of the event. Please note that plans for the conference or workshop must be aligned with the overall proposed research project, and that this cost must be part of the total award of up to £250,000 and not an extra cost. Further guidance for applicants is included within the application form. 

8. How will funding decisions be made?

Applications will be managed by Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity. Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity is a member of the AMRC and as such, we ensure the research we fund meets the highest possible standards of quality, accountability, transparency and openness. The application will involve a two-stage process, an initial outline application and, if shortlisted, invitation to a full application that will include external peer review. 

Full applications and respective reviews will then be considered by the Charity’s Research Assessment Panel (RAP), who will make the final decision according to various criteria including remit, quality, feasibility, impact and value for money. The Panel is made up of the following members: Professor Charles ffrench-Constant (Chair of the Panel, University of Edinburgh), Professor Rosalind Smyth (UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health), Professor David Goldblatt (UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health), Professor David Edwards (King's College London), Professor Brian Bigger (University of Manchester), Professor Eamonn Maher (University of Cambridge), Professor Raj Chopra (Institute of Cancer Research) and Associate Professor Tim Collier (London School of Tropical Hygiene and Medicine). The panel also includes two lay members: Yvonne Parry and Baroness Margaret Jay. Shortlisting of outline applications will be made by a subset of the RAP.

9. What is the timeline for the application process?

The deadline for outline applications is 4pm, Wednesday, 19 August 2020. Applicants will be notified in early October if they have been shortlisted to the next stage. The deadline for full applications will be in late October. If you are invited to submit a full application, you will be informed of the final funding decision in March 2021. 

10. Do you have a maximum upper limit for which I can apply for?

As in previous years, this funding call is making up to £2 million available to spend on project grants. As in previous years, we anticipate a high number of proposals from a wide range of different investigators in institutions across the UK. Therefore, applicants are asked to carefully consider their request for funding and whether it represents good value for money. The charity would not expect individual applications to exceed £250,000 for a duration of up to 36 months.

11. Is there a limit on the number of applications I can submit?

Researchers may only submit one application as the principal applicant, so we recommend that you submit your strongest project proposal. You may, however, be named a co-applicant in other applications to the same call.

12. Can I talk to you about my research before I apply?

Yes. If you have any queries then please do not hesitate to contact the Grants team at Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity on

13. How do I apply?

To start your outline application please click here and follow the instructions on the Grants Management System website. The deadline for outline applications is 4pm on Wednesday, 19 August 2020
Please allow sufficient time for internal approvals prior to the deadline as there is a two-stage process for submission. Signatories and co-applicants must be invited to participate in the application prior to submission. Once the application has then been submitted, it will go to signatories for final sign off. Please note that this sign off must occur before the final deadline of 19 August 2020.  

Additionally, you should allow ample time for your application – particularly its financial details – to be reviewed by your host institution’s research office or equivalent entity.

14. Do I qualify as an early career researcher for the purposes of this call?

To be eligible for the award as an early career researcher the applicant must:

  • Hold a salaried, academic research post;
  • Be in their first independent position at group-leader level;
  • Have sufficient time remaining in their current post to complete the awarded project.

Should you be unsure as to whether you are eligible to apply as an early career researcher, please contact us through .

15. Will my application be prioritised if I am an early career researcher?

One of the objectives of this call is to promote the establishment and retention of talent in child health research, and we are therefore particularly interested in supporting projects from early career researchers. If you are an early career researcher, your application will be prioritised over an application from an established researcher only if it is deemed equally competitive according to the multiple criteria considered by the Research Assessment Panel (i.e. if it receives an identical score as competing applications). Your early career researcher status will only be considered at the final award decision stage.

16. Will my application be more likely to be rejected if I am not an early career researcher?

We are committed to supporting high-quality research regardless of career stage. We anticipate that only a small fraction of applications will come from early career researchers. Additionally, those applications will be submitted to the same peer review process and assessed through the same set of stringent criteria by the Research Assessment Panel. It is therefore unlikely that you will be rejected on the basis that you are not an early career researcher. 

17. Will my application be more likely to be funded if my project falls under one of the Research Partner areas?

No. If an application falls under the remit of one of our Research Partners, the shortlisting, peer review and Research Assessment Panel decision processes will be identical to all other applications. If your application receives a fundable score and is deemed competitive, the co-funding arrangements with the research partners will be formalised after the award decision is made (i.e. the Research Partner will only have the option to co-fund a relevant application if it has been selected for an award). Meeting the requirements of any of our Research Partners will not be used as a criterium to score applications. 

18. What costs will the award cover/not cover?

The award will cover:

  • Salaries for research staff (including post-doctoral research assistants, research assistants, research nurses, technicians, statisticians, technologists, methodologists, etc…)
  • Consumables
  • Experimental animals
  • Equipment up to £10,000 for one single item and with a justification of why the item cannot be used/borrowed from elsewhere (higher-value equipment should be discussed with the Charity’s Grants team before applying, but would generally be expected to be co-funded to 50% by the applicant's Institution)
  • Funding for attending relevant conferences (we would consider funding of up to one UK/European conference per year and one international conference during the lifetime of the award and based on a well-justified need)
  • Funding for organising a conference or workshop in a relevant rare disease area (up to £5,000)
  • Any other direct costs of research

The award will NOT cover:

  • Salary of the Principal Investigator/team leader
  • Consultant programmed activities
  • PhD studentships
  • The Apprenticeship Levy 
  • Medical costs or any other costs that should be covered by the NHS