Better World Funding competition 2019/20

To support the University’s Social Responsibility (SR) agenda and to help staff and students in the Faculty of Science and Engineering to 'Make a Difference' we would like to encourage you to apply to the Better World Fund to help you to develop an idea, or to run something that benefits society or the environment.

All ideas and existing projects will be considered and the fund is open to all staff or students (individuals or groups) in the Faculty. We want to encourage, and will prioritise funding for new projects and ideas related to:

  • Environmental sustainability and / or Living Labs projects
  • Innovation in Social Responsibility in the curriculum
  • Local community engagement projects
  • Widening Participation

Application form

To apply for the Better World Funding competition, please fill out the online application form.

Application process

To apply, please complete the online application form.

The second round of applications for this academic year is open for applications. We welcome and will consider all applications but particularly encourage applications from students.

The application deadline is 5.00pm on Wednesday, 23 October 2019. 

The judges will review all applications after the deadline and you will be contacted via email within one month of the competition closing.

Access the application form.


Applicants can apply for funding up to £3,000. Funding is available between 1 August 2019 - 31 July 2020. All funding allocated must be spent during this time and initiatives must be delivered during this time. If your project requires spending after 31 July 2020 or will run over this period, please contact us prior to application so that we can discuss options with you. 

We encourage applicants to only request the amount of funding needed.

Costs can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Resources (e.g. online and printed material), including payment for support to help create new material
  • Implementation costs (e.g. project consumables)
  • Subsistence and travel (we encourage the consideration of sustainable travel or the use of alternative means of meeting such as Skype)
  • Venue and/or equipment hire
  • Visitor/speaker fees and expenses up to a maximum of £250 per speaker.
  • Refreshment costs
  • Photography and filming (and editing) costs
  • Costs cannot include requests for IT equipment or other items which would normally be requested through your Department equipment and resources budget.

This funding complements Department budgets or research grants, and should be used to fund projects which the Department is not able to fund. This will be taken into account when funding is allocated.

Successful applicants should procure items through the University's procurement system and should use University-approved suppliers for services. 

Additional guidance for the prioritised areas, as well as case studies of projects which have received funding previously, are provided below:

  • Environmental sustainability and / or living labs projects

    We would like to encourage new initiatives, or the scaling up of existing initiatives that have a positive benefit on the environment. This could be to address something in your own work area, or it could be a research project looking to improve environmental sustainability in a specific area. We would love to see some Living Labs projects.

    • Initiatives may look at improving the environmental sustainability of the University’s estates and facilities (in particular in laboratories) or have a wider local or international application. Proposals could focus on, but are not limited to, saving energy, paper, water, money and other resources, or reducing our carbon footprint, or solving the challenge of single use plastics.
    • Living Labs projects that address sustainability challenges in a stakeholder partnership through facilitating collaboration and building on new knowledge and the applicants’ intellectual potential is used to address practical sustainability challenges.
    • Academic staff could participate as part of their research or teaching responsibilities; involving students through curricular activities (courses, dissertations, volunteering etc.) or formal extracurricular programmes.
    • For students, this could be funding to assist you in addressing a sustainability challenge you have noticed on campus or in your local community.
  • Innovation in social responsibility in the curriculum

    This category supports initiatives which will enable our students to experience SR in practice and the development of socially responsible graduates at the University. Applications should focus on initiatives for students at The University of Manchester. Funding applications may relate to the following but all proposals will be considered:

    • The development of a course unit or course materials with an SR strand for FSE degree programmes.
    • Student projects which support the SR agenda (preferably related to a degree course in FSE).
    • Enriching the student learning experience by engaging in solving real world projects defined by the academic team or defined by students.
    • International volunteering opportunities organised or offered by the Departments, Faculty or University.
  • Local community engagement projects

    This category is very broad, as we would like to encourage any collaboration with the very local communities to the Universities to support the University’s Inspiring Communities Strategy.  These activities could be research, teaching or new, innovative public engagement initiatives.

    Funding could be used for (but not limited to):

    • Funding for resources to enable students to engage with the community through voluntary work or as part of the Manchester Leadership Programme or Stellify.
    • Funding for a research team to meet with a community group to identify a need that they could look to address using their expertise.
  • Widening Participation (WP)

    Funding is available through this competition for WP activities for new or innovative activities or ideas. We welcome funding applications for any initiative relating to WP but will assess applications on how they have identified a gap in current provision and how they will address this:

    • Promoting equality and fair access into science and engineering for all groups, including people from low income backgrounds and low participation neighbourhoods, girls (particularly into engineering), Black, Asian and Ethnic Minorities (BAME) (particularly into sciences), learners with disabilities and other groups.
    • Improving student retention - Supporting students to complete their degree courses and remain at University. Initiatives could be focused on mental health, wellbeing and/or enhancing a sense of inclusivity and belonging amongst students.
    • Reducing differential attainment at degree level and other relevant levels.
  • Case study - Community Engagement

    Student participants in a community engagement scheme


    Love For The Streets


    Jonah Ogbuneke and Liam Myers (School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science) and Roxann Federici (School of Chemistry)

    Tell us about your project

    Love For The Streets is the flagship campaign of Change United in collaboration with the Big Change Society.  The campaign’s message is that you can help tackle homelessness by supporting long-term solutions rather than handing over your loose change.

    We spread our message using social media and events to mobilise students to volunteer with local homeless charities. We want to be a catalyst for social change; revolutionising the way we tackle social issues as a society and embedding volunteering into student culture.

    What has the impact of your project been?

    Since the launch of Love For The Streets in September 2017, the campaign has:

    • Raised over £4,000 for the Big Change Campaign
    • Collected 875kg of food (2,100 meals) and raised £1,000 for MCR Central Foodbank
    • Delivered 24 art workshops for two homeless shelters, with the support of 35 student volunteers from Manchester School of Arts
    • Displayed the artwork created in these volunteering sessions at the Whitworth Art Gallery
    • Signed up nearly 150 students to volunteer with local homeless charities.

    The campaign’s founder Jonah Ogbuneke says: “The greatest achievement of Love For The Streets has been its ability to change the perception of what volunteering is and can be. So many people want to help tackle social issues in their communities but don’t because they don’t feel like they have anything significant to offer or any way they can make a difference. What we’ve done is shown students ways in which they can make that difference using the skills they have – and then given them the opportunities to do so.”

    How has receiving support through the Better World Funding competition helped your project?

    The funding helped us to really make a success of the campaign in its first year. . We were able to organise six weeks of art workshops at two homeless shelters, Greater Together Manchester and Cornerstone. These were really well received by the people at the shelters and the volunteers wanted to deliver more workshops than we could schedule! 

    The funding also allowed us put on an exhibition at The Whitworth to display the artwork. This was attended by nearly 1,500 visitors, which really empowered the beneficiaries and helped to tackle the stereotypes surrounding homelessness.

    We’re not ready to slow down yet, as we’re currently planning a Hidden Homeless Conference and another Food for Thought Festival to support Manchester Central Foodbank after the first event was so successful. None of this would be possible without the funding we received through the Better World Funding Competition. It has been essential in allowing us to put on events that support our target beneficiaries; connect students with homelessness volunteering opportunities; and tackle issues around homelessness.

  • Case study - Environmental Sustainability

    Project: BeeLife Canary

    Applicants: Simon Harper, Ruth Maddocks and Uli Sattler, School of Computer Science

    Tell us about your project:

    BeeLife is a platform hosted by the School of Computer Science and is the University’s Research Apiary (where we keep our beehives). Its purpose is teaching and school and public outreach, but also improving environmental sustainability. The project helps to monitor and sustain biodiversity in the Oxford Road corridor, and educates young people on the importance of sustaining habitats for wildlife in the urban environment.

    ‘Canary’ is a part of BeeLife focused on pollution investigation using Citizen Scientist apiarists across Manchester, and will help us better understand pollution distribution and biodiversity in the area.


    What has the impact of your project been?

    The project is still in progress and we’ve secured more funding for the next year. So far we’ve trained eight volunteer bee keepers who perform weekly hive maintenance, collecting information as they go.

    We’ve also started work to monitor air quality and pollution around Oxford Road and the University campus using bees.

    There’s a growing network of researchers across the University involved with BeeLife, and their research interests span social responsibility, sustainability, population health, agrifood and food security. Students are also developing bee-related technology solutions through projects using the platform.

    We’ve also engaged the public via our Citizen Scientists, through live streaming and representation at the Bees in the City event.


    How has receiving support through the Better World Funding Competition helped your project?

    We were able to buy a 360-degree and night vision infrared camera to record the bees’ activity. We live stream from both cameras so the public and school children can 'peek' into the lives of bees as the days and seasons pass. We also funded a vacation student who helped with the technical set up. Without the funding, we wouldn’t have been able to get these features up and running, and wouldn’t be able to share our findings with the public.

    With the additional funding we’re going to recruit Citizen Scientists to support our work. We will also develop publicity material to share the outputs of the project and teaching resources for primary schools.

  • Eligibility

    • This is an open call for applications from any member of staff (Professional Support, technical or academic) or students (undergraduate and postgraduate) in the Faculty of Science and Engineering.
    • We encourage applicants to collaborate with others who are planning similar projects, working across Schools/Departments or disciplines where such a relationship enables the better realisation of the initiative’s aims and impact. We will prioritise funding for projects that do this.
  • Assessment criteria

    Your application will be assessed on:

    1. Alignment to aims: The proposed initiative meets the aims of the funding, what is the social responsibility ‘challenge’ that is being addressed and why this is a suitable response.
    2. Feasibility: The proposed initiative can be delivered within the cost and time constraints.
    3. Innovation: The proposed initiative is innovative and creative in its aims, planning, delivery and/or outcome.
    4. Impact: The applicant has identified the desired outcome and considered how to evaluate the impact.
    5. Sustainability: Where relevant how the initiative could continue in the future and/or has the potential to be scaled up.
    6. Realistic costing: Your application should demonstrate that you have based your funding request on realistic costs. Where additional funding is required, we will expect this to have been identified and ideally secured.
  • Further information

    • If your application is successful, you will be asked to provide some information on how you have 'made a difference' once you have delivered the project. This will involve summarising the initiative, the outcomes, and any feedback and/or plans to expand or sustain the initiative. You will be asked to complete this information on a template provided by us and this information will be used to automatically enter you into University Making a Difference Awards and/or Faculty social responsibility awards, with your permission.
    • If your application is successful but the plan for the initiative changes or if you do not think you will have delivered the project within the defined deadlines, you must contact Daniele Atkinson as soon as possible. We will work with you to agree a way forward: this may include our right to request partial or full refund of the funding when a project is either significantly changed or has not been delivered.
    • If you would like to discuss any ideas or have any queries please contact Daniele Atkinson (0161 306 5905). Your Department’s Director for Social Responsibility may also be able to provide help and advice and may be able to connect you with others who are planning similar projects.
    • Please note: No operational support is provided to successful applicants, however information and advice can be provided around event organisation, publicity, registration, organising filming or photography, etc. if required.
    • Further information, inspiration and guidance can be found here:
  • Application process

    To apply, please complete the online application form.

    The second round of applications for this academic year is open for applications. We welcome and will consider all applications but particularly encourage applications from students.

    The application deadline is 5.00pm on Wednesday, 23 October 2019.

    The judges will review all applications after the deadline and you will be contacted via email within one month of the competition closing.

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