British Council Network Effect conference on migration – 'A Worldview on Europe'

Our open fund is temporarily suspended. This is because we have recently undertaken open calls for proposals for strands of work.

In general, we are proactive as opposed to reactive in identifying the partners with whom we wish to work on the basis of extensive research. However, we also scan the horizon for innovative projects using our open fund.

Coal Fired Computers,
Installation at AV Festival 10

Please note that we have temporarily suspended our open fund as we have recently undertaken open calls for proposals for our strands of work.

We use the Open Fund to receive applications from organisations with ideas for exceptional projects and which are a good fit with our new strategic priorities for 2014-2019:

  • Gathering evidence, testing pilot initiatives and supporting strategic advocacy aimed at increasing knowledge about transitions in later life and securing more appropriate responses to the issues they create for people as they age, particularly in terms of the psychological and emotional challenges faced.
  • Fostering sector collaboration, building the evidence base and identifying and supporting models of best practice and originality in the area of participatory/socially-engaged performing arts to raise the profile of this arts practice.

This fund reflects our intention to be open and transparent about what we do, leaving the door open for establishing constructive dialogue and exploring new ideas with potential partners. 

The open fund is a very small proportion of our total budget and only a small number of open fund applications are supported each year


We are looking for projects that:

  •  Scope a new idea to address a specified need or implement new approaches that are already successfully applied in other sectors or outside the UK
  •  Are relevant to our new strategic priorities (see above)
  • Have a clearly articulated vision of how the work will impact beyond the project lifetime
  • Address and evidence a clearly identified need

What can I apply for?

  • As a guide, grants are likely to average between £10,000 and £30,000.
  • Funding is given for the specific activity proposed and not for general core costs.
  • Although we may occasionally give further funding for projects that are developed as a result of the R&D support, we stress that we do not guarantee continued support.
  • We are open to co-funding projects but not where our contribution is a small part of a much larger budget.
  • Please note that the budget allocated for unsolicited proposals is modest and we approve only a small number of projects each year.

Who can apply?

We do not fund individuals. We only fund projects that take place in the UK or Republic of Ireland and directly benefit people in those countries. However, we are particularly interested in proposals that may also involve international partners or that emulate good practice in other countries.


Once you are sure that your project is relevant to our work, please fill our short Initial Enquiry Form.

Your summary will be considered by the UK Branch on a monthly basis and we will respond within 8 weeks of receipt of your proposal. Should we decide to consider your proposal further, you will then be asked for additional information about your project and we can then assess how your project can best fit our strategy.

Please direct any enquiries to


We cannot help with the following enquiries which should be addressed to the appropriate Department at the Foundation's Headquarters in Lisbon:

Support for Armenian projects and scholarships for Armenian students
Armenian Communities Department

Scholarships for Portuguese nationals
Scholarships Gulbenkian

Scholarships for non-Portuguese nationals
Scholarships and Grants

Projects promoting Portuguese culture outside Portugal (but not in the UK or Ireland)
Gulbenkian Portuguese Language and Culture Programme

Images: British Council Network Effect conference on migration – 'A Worldview on Europe' – held at the Foundation in Lisbon, January 2010. Photo: Joana Teixeira.
Harwood & Yokokoji (YoHa), Coal Fired Computers, Installation at AV Festival 10. Photo: Louise Hepworth 2010