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Information on what costs are eligible for funding and the format of co-funding.

The Challenge Fund is designed to work flexibly. It can be used to fund different types of activity in different ways and we welcome ideas about how the Fund can be used to support innovative ideas in the form of concept notes.

Some examples of eligible costs are listed below, however this list is by no means exhaustive:

  • Staff costs: To cover the time of members of staff employed by the lead organisation or named delivery partners who are working on the project.
  • Professional fees: Fees that may be incurred when subcontracting third-party suppliers to deliver a service.
  • Equipment: Anything over the value of £25,000 will need to follow a specified process.
  • Travel: Costs should be directly related to project activities. Travel should be undertaken in line with government guidelines and in accordance with your own organisation’s travel policy.
  • Promotion and knowledge sharing: Costs relating to the promotion, marketing, dissemination, communication and sharing of knowledge.

The IOP is committed to open science and research and we strongly encourage partners who are funded via the Challenge Fund to publish examples of evidence, data, practice and impact in open-access literature.

Successful projects may include funding to support publication of evidence and findings in gold open-access format. This will help to achieve the widest possible and most sustainable impact from funded activities.

Proposals which do not include provision for open publication of evidence, data or impact should include an explanation of why this is not possible or desirable.

Projects benefitting from the IOP Challenge Fund should acknowledge this funding in all publicly available materials produced to support the project. Guidance on this will be provided by the Challenge Fund team if your project is successful.

When preparing your budget, please note that there are some types of costs that we are unable to meet. These are deemed ineligible costs and include:

  • Costs already covered by another grant or third party;
  • Excessive or reckless expenditure;
  • Property purchases or costs linked to the purchase of real estate;
  • Expenses for activities that are not stated within the proposal, unless prior written permission is granted by the IOP;
  • Depreciation costs;
  • Return on capital;
  • Debt and debt service charges;
  • Provisions for losses or debts;
  • Interest incurred or owed;
  • Doubtful debts;
  • Exchange losses;
  • Bank charges; and
  • Recoverable or deductible VAT.

Agreements about the timing of payments and the division of sums will be reached following successful interviews.


The Challenge Fund is intended to support partnership activities via a co-funding model and partner organisations are expected to make a contribution to project costs.

There is no minimum or maximum level of contribution required and the contribution(s) can take the form of direct finance or contribution of resources from the organisation(s), or a contribution from a third-party funder or consortium.

Co-funding can be proposed as:

  • A direct financial contribution from the organisation(s) applying in order to fund core activities e.g. the purchase of equipment for sole use by the project;
  • ‘In-kind’ e.g. goods or services donated by the organisation(s), including staff time, and the use of premises and equipment.

These are examples and other forms of co-funding will be considered.

Concept notes should detail co-funding intent. Full proposals should provide either confirmed or evidence of intent to co-fund and by interview stage we expect to see secured co-funding or co-funding in the final stages of being approved.