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Paul Instrument Fund

This scheme is for scientists in the UK who want to design and construct a novel instrument to measure phenomena in the physical sciences.


Applications should contain genuinely new ideas, techniques or highly novel applications of existing ideas and techniques. The instrument should, as far as possible, be a stand-alone device and might be an outcome of a previous extensive research programme. The scheme aims to support innovative development, rather than pure research.

Am I eligible to apply?

The scheme covers all of the physical sciences including pure and applied physics, biophysics and medical physics.

To be eligible to apply, you must:

  • hold a PhD
  • be either a UK citizen or be resident in the UK

Before applying, please ensure that you meet all the eligibility requirements, which are explained in the scheme notes.

What is the scheme’s value and tenure?

The scheme provides a grant of up to £75,000 for the design and construction of apparatus. The length of the award is one to three years.

Intellectual Property

The Paul Instrument Fund was established through the will of the late R W Paul, which specifies that awardees should not obtain patents for instruments supported by Paul Instrument Fund money without first agreeing to such conditions and stipulations which the Fund Committee might impose. If successful, awardees who intend to licence or in any way generate income from an instrument developed or supported by the Paul Instrument Fund must first agree suitable conditions with the Fund Committee.

What is the application process?

Applications should be submitted through the Royal Society’s electronic grant application system (e-GAP). Applications are initially reviewed by members of the Paul Instrument Fund panel, which includes representatives of the Royal Society, the Institute of Physics and the Institution of Engineering and Technology.

An assessor is assigned to visit the short-listed applicants to discuss the application and make a recommendation to the panel. The panel then meets to discuss the recommendations of the assessor.

Case studies

Dr Jason Smith