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Fellowships for pure research in science and engineering, applied research in industry, studentships in industrial design and Special Awards

Research Fellowships

Applications for 2021 Fellowships will open in October 2020

1851 Research Fellowships are intended to give early career scientists or engineers of exceptional promise the opportunity to conduct a research project of their own instigation; an ultimate objective is to contribute to the knowledge base required for a healthy and innovative national culture.  Around eight awards are made each year. 

The 1851 Commissioners seek to widen the pool of candidates by encouraging researchers in the core subjects of Civil, Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering to submit applications in these disciplines which address the primary infrastructure needs of modern society: the buildings we live and work in, transportation of many forms and the machinery and plant which supply our energy needs. Successful applications in these areas will be designated ‘1851 Brunel Fellowships’ and applications will be assessed separately from those in the Science subjects to reflect the different demands and expectations of core Engineering subjects, particularly in respect of the possible complexity of the final outcomes. 

Fellowships are held from 1 October in the year of award  (or such date in 2020 as agreed with the fellow), and offers cannot be deferred to later years.

Promote this Fellowship with our flyers for Research Fellowships and 1851 Brunel Fellowships.

Please read the 2020 Terms and Conditions with care for full eligibility criteria, details of benefits and how to apply. Our Privacy Notice can be downloaded here.

“The 1851 Fellowship has been one of the defining aspects of my academic career.  It has allowed me to focus on developing my own research program, which will form the basis of my work for years to come, and has been instrumental in establishing my career and research profile. I am truly grateful.”  Dr Tom Montenegro-Johnson, Research Fellow 2014

“The 1851 Fellowship gave me the best ever start to my independent career.  Not only did it help me to make friends across disciplines with other 1851 awardees of my time, but it helped me connect with the incredible previous Fellows.  It helped me identify commonalities of character, attitudes and perspectives of thought-leaders in science that I have tried to nurture in my own approach.” Professor Yamuna Krishnan, Research Fellow 2002

“The 1851 Fellowship really provided a platform for me to launch my independent research career.  There is no doubt that, without it, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”  Dr Rhodri Davies, Research Fellow 2008

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Industrial Fellowships

Applications for 2021 Fellowships will open in October 2020

The aim of the scheme is to encourage profitable innovation and creativity in British Industry – to the mutual benefit of the Fellow and his or her sponsoring company. Projects in any science or engineering discipline will be considered.

These prestigious Fellowships are awarded to selected, exceptional graduates with the potential to make an outstanding contribution to Industry for a programme of doctoral level research.  They are open to company employed candidates or nominated Doctoral Centre / CASE candidates.

Please read the 2020 Terms and Conditions with care for full eligibility criteria, benefits and details of how to apply. Our Privacy Notice can be downloaded here.

Around 10 awards are made each year, one of which is designated the ERA Foundation Fellow for the electro-technology sector.

Promote this Fellowship with our 3 fliers aimed at the individual, company and university respectively.



“The Industrial Fellowship has been a great way to gain innovative advantage with the limited resources inherent to SMEs. It gave us control over the research being conducted and ownership of new IP.  In fact, we’ve patented five new technologies as a direct result of the Fellowship”.  Dr Ian Towle, Ketonex

“Unlike a conventional PhD, the Industrial Fellowship has allowed us to develop a project that was directly tied to company aims, because the Fellow is employed by us throughout. This has really helped in the development of our competitive advantage”. Brian Butchart, SIRAKOSS

“The Industrial Fellowship has been a fantastic opportunity. It has given me the freedom to take something that I was interested in researching and take it to the next level, whilst retaining a salary and strong tie to industry.” Jordan Conway, Industrial Fellow with SIRAKOSS and the University of Aberdeen.

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Design Fellowship

Applications are open. Deadline Midday 3 September

Design for Resilience

The theme of this year’s fellowship is set in the context of the unexpected and our attitude to risk. Much of what we design is for an unambiguous purpose, whether it is a product, a service or a system in response to a clear market demand. Designers are often motivated to be inventive and set trends, or to create desirable products with ever increasing (but not necessarily used) functionality – to perpetuate the allure of the latest model can lead to wasteful obsolescence, while nevertheless admired as good business.

What if we re-thought our approach to design in the light of scarcity of resources? Climate change is making us re-think in so many ways our response to new environmental and social pressures. We are witnessing the search for certainty in science vying with the pragmatism of politics as we wrestle with a pandemic. Suddenly, simple but ingenious solutions to problems are welcomed. Flexibility and adaptability are invaluable to provide fast responses to crises; in what way, large or small, should we design for resilience in advance?

Introduced in 2006, awards have been made for research into:

  • The Future of Business in Design
  • The Link between Technology and Productive Industry
  • Connecting the New Economy with the Old
  • 3D Printing – A Genuine Industrial Revolution
  • Techno Push / Consumer Pull
  • Healthier Cities
  • Design and ‘Fake News’


The value of the award is £50,000 per year.  Applications are welcome from post-graduates, researchers, practitioners or professionals on a career break.  Entries will be accepted not only from individuals but also from formal or informal partnerships.

Please read the 2020 Design Fellowship Flyer with care for full eligibility criteria, details of benefits and how to apply. Our Privacy Notice can be downloaded here.

Industrial Design Studentships

Applications for 2021 Fellowships will open in October 2020

The aim of the scheme is to stimulate industrial design capability among the country’s most able science and engineering graduates. In the Commissioners’ view, industrial design cannot be dissociated from a clear understanding of the underlying engineering science of the product and it is for this reason that first degrees in science or engineering are prescribed. These are complementary, not alternative disciplines. For products to succeed they must not only be fit for purpose, but they must also look good and represent value for money.

Please read the 2020 Terms and Conditions with care for full eligibility criteria, details of benefits and how to apply. Our Privacy Notice can be downloaded here.

Around 10 Studentships are offered each year for outstanding engineering or science graduates who wish to develop their capabilities in industrial design and who aspire to becoming leading designers in British industry. The scheme is open to applicants resident in the UK who are intending to make a career in British Industry.

Promote this Studentship by downloading our flyer.

How to Apply
All applications much be submitted by email on the downloadable application form and must be accompanied by a full CV, which gives details of past work experience; a statement and evidence of interest and expectations in industrial design, including the intention to make a career in British Industry and evidence of acceptance for the intended course.

“Receiving support from 1851 was an incredible privilege,allowing me to pursue my education and be a part of an invaluable network of highly inspirational people” Nell Bennett

“One of the things I really like about engineering is that it can have a very big impact on the world – it’s great to have that as a driver and a motivator. You spend the majority of your time at work so you might as well do something that you’re passionate about and that you love.” Yusuf Muhammad

“Thanks @royalcom1851 @born2engineer for all the support and enabling so many people to do brilliant things!” Adrian Westaway

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Built Environment Fellowship

The next Built Environment Fellowship will open in 2021

The Commission will be awarding the next Fellowship in the Built Environment in 2021.  Full details, including the title of the project, will be posted on this site in June 2021 when applications will be invited.   The value of the award is £50,000 per year.  Applications are welcome from post-graduates, researchers, practitioners or professionals on a career break.  Entries will be accepted not only from individuals but also from formal or informal partnerships.

Introduced in 1995, awards have been made for research into:

  • Landscape and Modernity
  • Urban Issues, Human Habitation
  • Transport and the Built Environment
  • Housing for the 21st Century
  • Climate Change – The future for Building Design
  • Urban design: Ideas for part of the Commission’s Estate
  • Towns and cities in Shock
  • Genetics and the Built Environment
  • Cycling and the Built Environment
  • Manufacturing an Inhabitable City
  • What is the High Street for? What Might the “Future High Street” be like?

RAEng 1851 Enterprise Fellowship

Funded by the 1851 Royal Commission the RAEng 1851 Enterprise Fellowship scheme forms part of our shared commitment to stimulate excellence and encourage creativity and innovation in engineering by identifying and supporting the founders and leaders of tomorrow’s high-tech companies.

The Fellowship provides money-can’t-buy bespoke support and one-to-one mentoring, which is composed of some of the country’s most successful engineers from across academia and industry.

The core aims of the Enterprise Fellowships are:

  1. To bring engineering innovations to market for a wider public benefit
  2. To improve the skills of the awardee.
  3. To develop role models of entrepreneurship; and
  4. To develop a wider alumni network to further the aims of the Hub.
Click here for Guidance Notes.

The Fellowships provide:

  • Up to £60,000 funding
  • Mentoring from the Royal Academy’s  Fellowship
  • Approximately Twelve days business training
  • Public relations support
  • Access to the Academy’s networks
  • Access to the Enterprise Hub meeting facilities
  • Membership of the Enterprise Hub

If you are a postdoctoral researcher at a UK-based university with an innovation or technology you wish to develop through a spin-out, or you have graduated within the last five years and are seeking to run a startup in the UK, then this scheme will be of interest to you. The same application and assessment process applies to both types of applicants.

Special Awards

A very limited number of Special Awards are made to worthy causes and individuals whose aims are consistent with the Commission's Charter to 'increase the means of industrial education' in Britain. These may range from substantial support for other bodies in pursuing specific projects, to travel and study awards to individuals.

However, apart from its programme of Fellowships and Studentship the Commission does not offer any Special Awards for university courses or post-graduate research.

By their very nature, Special Awards are not capable of clear description, since they are assessed by Commissioners on a case by case basis. Applicants should, in the first instance, contact the Secretary before making a written application.

Sir Misha Black Awards

The Sir Misha Black Awards Committee for Distinguished Services to Design Education, has joined the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851.

The Sir Misha Black Awards were established in 1977 to honour those, who like him, have given distinguished services to design education. The inclusion of the Sir Misha Black Awards in the Royal Commission’s portfolio, effective from February 2020, reinforces the Commission’s mission to “increase the means of industrial education and extend the influence of science and art upon productive industry”.

Nominations are accepted from:

  • educational institutions and organisations; educators; academics
  • practitioners in any field of design
  • professional bodies and institutions representing designers and educators
  • commentators, critics, writers and observers
  • communities, specific interest groups, local and national public representatives, individuals


The Sir Misha Black Medal for Distinguished Services to Design Education
Nominations for the Sir Misha Black Medal are welcomed from those with knowledge and appreciation of the value of design education. The Medal is awarded to an individual, from any country in the world, for his or her Distinguished Services to Design Education. The words ‘education’ and ‘design’ are interpreted in their widest meaning.

The Sir Misha Black Award for Innovation in Design Education
Nominations for the Sir Misha Black Award are also being accepted now. The Award is confined to educational organisations within the United Kingdom. It is open to individuals, teams, or combined schools working within educational establishments, where innovation has been the key to the development of new thinking which has led to demonstrable improvement in the education of designers.

Please visit the Sir Misha Black Awards website for more information or alternatively email the team at mishablackawards@gmail.com

Great Exhibition at Home

The Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 has partnered with The Royal Academy of Engineering to deliver the Great Exhibition at Home with Big Ideas.

The Great Exhibition at Home Challenge asks young people to explore how engineers can help protect the planet through weekly activities, digital resources and a fantastic video challenge for participants. The Challenge is suitable for home-working or classroom, for primary or secondary ages, and can be completed alone or with friends. The challenge can be started at any time, but will be especially suited to providing an instructive, inspiring and fun activity during the summer term.

Students throughout the UK are invited to take part in a seven-week project, culminating in a video challenge. This final challenge asks students to create and share a Great Exhibition, wherever their classroom may be. Free resources are available and winning participants will receive £500 worth of equipment to supersize STEM subjects in their school, as well as other prizes to be announced soon.

To find out more and download your digital resource pack and weekly worksheets, please visit:


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