COVID-19 information for grant holders and grant applicants

The outbreak of COVID-19 is a major public health emergency and we understand that it will have a significant impact on the research and the health and wellbeing of the researchers and health-care community.

We are aware that a number of universities are on shutdown or at limited capacity and both clinical and non-clinical research has been paused or reduced. We also understand that a large proportion of the research community will be redeployed elsewhere to provide essential NHS support. Sparks are fully supportive of this.

Sparks is currently operating remotely, and the grants team can answer any questions you may have virtually. Please email us at with any queries relating to your grant or changes to your activity. If you would prefer to discuss matters over the phone, please email and a member of the team will get back to you.

Grants Holders

The following information is for anyone who currently holds a Sparks grant. As a funder we want to support and provide flexibility to our grant holders at this time. Please see the following guidance:

• Please ensure you follow the policies and advice of your host institution to help minimise the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
• As your and your team’s employer, the host institution’s policies should be followed in the case of an individual on the grant becoming unwell or being unable to work during this time
• As specified in the Terms and Conditions of award, we mandate that your host institution bears the costs of any paid leave entitlements consistent with its employment policies.
• We understand there may be different issues grant holders face and we will work with you individually to minimise disruption and provide flexibility as best we can. This will include:
o Offering increased flexibility in the management of your award
o Allowing flexibility on the use of underspend and virements to cover exceptional costs incurred by the COVID-19 pandemic to keep your activities going.
o Considering requests to put your grant into abeyance, where we suspend your grant if you want to pause payments and activities on the grant.
o Offering no-cost extensions for your award to cover any time lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
• We ask that if there are aspects of a project that are not lab-based or would not be affected by the shutdown, that you explore the possibility of reordering the project to accommodate home working.
• We recommend delaying the start date of any awarded research grant that has not yet started. You may wish to use this time for recruitment if the host institution permits and the quality of recruitment would not suffer from the current situation.
• It is unlikely that we will be able to offer costed extensions, however the circumstances surrounding these requests will be considered on a case by case basis.

We encourage you to contact us as soon as possible to let us know about the particular challenges that you are facing, which will put us in a better position to support you and make any adjustments that you need. Please contact us at We will continue to monitor the situation and what is happening with our grant holders and will communicate any changes as soon as we can.

Grant Applicants

The Charity does not currently have any calls open nationally for research funding. At this time, we plan to open our next round of the GOSH and Sparks National Call as normal in late May 2020, but this plan will be reviewed on a regular basis. Please keep an eye on the website for updates.