Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The John Fell Fund (JFF) is a University of Oxford fund intended to foster creativity and a proactive approach to research opportunities in all subject areas, particularly interdisciplinary fields. It makes seed corn and start-up grants, and provides funds to stimulate applications to external funding bodies.

Applications from Early Career Researchers (defined as those in the early stages of their career, and within their first 5 years as an independent researcher) are particularly welcome.


There are two separate application streams:

  • Small awards: maximum value of £10,000
  • Main awards: for applications over £10,000 (no upper limit set, but the higher the sum, the stronger the case for support must be)

Awards may be made:

a)      For pump-priming or seed-corn activities, particularly those designed to support new research and/or lead to external funding applications;

b)      To provide start-up support for early-career researchers (defined as those in the early stages of their career, and within their first 5 years as an independent researcher);

c)       To support ‘other academic activities’ that are likely to lead to new research initiatives;

d)      To fund research facilitator posts;

e)      To provide matching support for bids to external funding bodies

f)       For matching support for strategic capital assets (see below)

The Strategic Investment in Research Assets fund (Category F) offers support for large equipment of major strategic importance. Additional rules apply to this category. At least 75% of the total project cost should be sought from an external body, with the Strategic Assets fund providing up to 75% of the internal contribution. If you are thinking of submitting an application to this category, please contact Martin Edmunds to discuss well in advance of the deadline.


Applications must reach the Division by 12 noon on the Wednesday of 2nd week each term. Your department may have an internal process ahead of the advertised deadline so please check with your research facilitator well in advance.

Hilary Term 2024: 12 noon, Wednesday 24th January

Trinity Term 2024: 12 noon, Wednesday 1st May


All applications from MPLS departments are considered at a meeting of the MPLS Grants Subcommittee (GSC), which comprises five academics with expertise across the physical, life, computational and engineering sciences:

  • For small awards, the Subcommittee makes funding recommendations (subject to a right of review by the chair of the John Fell Fund).
  • For main awards, the Subcommittee submits a ranked list to the central John Fell Fund Committee, which considers applications from across the University and makes funding decisions.

All final funding decisions are made at a meeting of the Central JFF Committee (chaired by the Pro VC (Research & Innovation)). The Chair and Secretary of the MPLS GSC and the Associate Head Division (Research) attend this meeting.

Research Services handle the awards administration, providing letters to each applicant on the outcome of their application and dealing with extension requests and reporting.


If you cannot find the required information on the John Fell Fund website, or have further queries, please e-mail the MPLS John Fell Fund team.