Delivering IOP strategy – call for proposals

Could your idea hold the key to the delivery of the IOP's strategy?


Alongside targeted and time-limited calls for proposals on specified themes, the Challenge Fund also works responsively to support innovative ideas addressing any or all of the challenges and aspirations of our strategy, ‘Unlocking the Future’.

To that end, we maintain an open call for funding proposals. Concept notes outlining ideas for activity can be submitted at any time and will be considered periodically throughout the life of the strategy.

What we’re looking for

‘Unlocking the Future’ is a highly ambitious strategy that aims to transform the physics landscape in the UK and Ireland. At its heart is the development and promotion of a thriving physics ecosystem that will contribute to innovation, discovery, research, growth and debate in the UK, Ireland and beyond – underpinned by a diverse and inclusive physics community.

The strategy responds to three key challenges, as laid out in ‘Unlocking the Future’:

  1. Diversity and skills: We want to build a thriving, diverse physics community and play our part in solving the STEM skills shortage by ensuring that people, no matter their background or where they live, have access to world-class physics education and training;
  2. Unlocking capability: We want to ensure that the UK and Ireland are able to realise the full societal and economic benefits of the new industrial era;
  3. Public dialogue: We want to show the impact of physics on people’s lives, enabling informed public debate about funding and policy in areas including healthcare, climate change and cybersecurity.

The strategy also identifies six aspirations for the changed world we want to see at the end of the strategy period:

  1. Every secondary school pupil in the UK and Ireland will have access to a specialist physics teacher;
  2. Girls will make up at least 30% of those taking physics at age 16-19 and there will be double the current number of young people from black and minority ethnic and lower socio-economic backgrounds;
  3. There will be clear roadmaps and funding commitments from the UK and Irish governments that propel research and development investment towards the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development average of 2.4% of gross domestic product;
  4. Double the current number of people will be employed in technical roles in physics-based and engineering businesses and the number of those on physics-based science apprenticeships will have increased by a factor of 100;
  5. Our publishing services to the worldwide physics community will have further improved such that the number of scientists publishing their research in our journals will grow by 25%;
  6. 10% of the population will have a meaningful engagement with a physics-based public event and 1% will have sustained contact with physics.

The ambition and scope of the strategy mean that working in partnership is essential. Through this open funding call, we welcome proposals from partners or consortia for how we, through the Challenge Fund, can support ideas that address any or all of these challenges and aspirations.

Activities should be accessible, inclusive and seek to increase participation from under-represented groups.

Concept notes should demonstrate how outcomes and benefits will be sustained beyond the end of the project. 

Equality, diversity and inclusion must be clearly defined in concept notes.

How to apply

Please submit a Concept Note using our standard form.

This call will stay open indefinitely and you can submit your Concept Note at any time. 

We will review concept notes periodically. After an initial review of concept notes, we may invite you to submit a full, detailed proposal containing a budget based on anticipated costs. All costs should be detailed within the project template provided with the full proposal. The IOP will assess proposed budgets based on a consideration of likely impact, quality and value for money.

Costs eligible for funding include: staff time, travel and subsistence, equipment and marketing. For more information please see the FAQs.

Funding requests can be for any amount above £100,000. All prospective partners should be able to contribute co-funding or in-kind support.