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Eligibility and selection criteria

Who can apply and what do successful proposals look like?


We are open to working with any UK or Ireland-based organisation, including charities, NGOs, universities, businesses or government organisations (though we will not fund government organisations) working alone or in consortia. The IOP Challenge Fund is flexible and can provide support through grant funding, awarding contracts or direct investment. Potential partners should be able to contribute further funding or in-kind support.  

Selection criteria 

Proposals for funding under the Challenge Fund can be for any amount from £100,000 upwards and are selected according to four main criteria. Proposed activities must be all of the following:  

  • innovative and demonstrate potential for sustained national impact;
  • supported by credible evidence;
  • responsive to the aims and ambitions set out in ‘Unlocking the Future’ in new ways or at a scale not currently supported by existing funding streams; and
  • accessible, inclusive and seek to increase participation from under-represented groups.

Funding can be used in different ways and will be as flexible as possible. The quality of the idea is the most important part of any proposal and showing clearly how the idea meets the above criteria should be the focus at the outset of the process.

Selection process

In the first instance, we ask for a Concept Note outlining your idea and an indication of the amount of funding or value of support sought. We do not expect many proposals to progress beyond the first stage, so this stage will be as light-touch as possible.

Those ideas that progress beyond the Concept Note stage will enter a detailed application process in which the next stages are a full application form and interviews.