In 2014 BEIS ran a Public Consultation on proposals for long term capital investment in science and research, specifically the allocation of £5.9 billion of research capital funding between 2016 and 2021.
ASDC submitted a Proposal for the creation of a new 'Inspiring Science Capital Fund' for UK Science Centres. This was as a result of discussions between ASDC and the then Science Minister David Willetts and his colleagues in BEIS (then BIS). The ASDC Proposal to create this new Capital Fund was then included in the Capital Consultation for public comment.
Following several years work between ASDC and BEIS, this proposal was approved, and Wellcome delightfully then joined as a partner, bringing £10 million to supplement the £20 million from BEIS. Wellcome then opened and administered the scheme. Applications were taken in two rounds and were awarded as detailed in the following table.
Centres with investment through the Inspiring Science Funding
All centres will have completed their programmes and expenditure by March 2021 (unless extensions are issued due to Covid-19)
Aberdeen Science Centre Round 1 £2,999,700
We The Curious (formerly At Bristol Science Centre) Round 1 £3,000,000
International Centre for Life Round 1 £2,592,235
Thinktank Round 1 £1,411,150
W5, Belfast Round 1 £3,000,000
Catalyst Science and Discovery Centre Round 2 £754,600
Dundee Science Centre Round 2 £1,455,440
Eureka! Round 2 £3,000,000
Glasgow Science Centre Round 2 £2,876,401
Techniquest Round 2 £3,000,000
National Space Centre Round 2 £1,880,000
Techniquest Glyndw Round 2 £1,750,000
Eligibility Criteria: Which Science Centres could apply?
The Inspiring Science Fund was created in 2015 initially to support the UK’s world-leading Science Centres with capital investment, as since their creation they had been mainly ineligible for capital investment from the other cultural funds such as HLF and the Arts Council.
Science Centre’s were eligible to apply for funding if they could show:
They attract a minimum of 30,000 public visitors a year
They have a STEM venue that is accessible to the public and / or schools for most days of the year.
They have been in existence for at least one year
They have a proven and viable business model
Although the centres do not need to be a member of the UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres, applicants will need to demonstrate how they are sharing knowledge, best practice and the latest ideas with colleagues nationally in an on-going and effective manner.
Zoos are not the target for this programme.
For clarification the following organisations will not be eligible to apply:
UK national museums, and museums sponsored by central Government
Projects eligible for capital funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Big Lottery Fund, Arts Council England, Arts Council for Wales, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Creative Scotland.
Capital projects dedicated to engaging the public through historic collections.
Applicants will need to demonstrate that they are:
Open to all and informed by their partners and audiences.
Open to working with partners and other centres to explore new ways of working with communities.
Keen to develop opportunities to work with arts and other partners (STEM to STEAM) approach, and trial innovative new ways for working.
Keen to explore what others might consider unexpected, disruptive and exciting approaches.