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The Sapling Fund Interview


LAHRI and the Cultural Institute recently launched The Sapling Fund, (deadline of 5pm on Monday 2nd October). You can read this interview with LAHRI Director Jamie Stark to find out more about what this scheme is for. 

Jamie, what is the Sapling Fund? 

We set up the Sapling Fund to support developing research and collaborations, focused on the arts and humanities. It’s designed to provide a springboard to larger-scale or longer-term projects and activities, particularly with external partners and across disciplines. It provides up to £5,000 of funding and we have four areas which projects can focus on: arts, health and wellbeing; social justice; histories and futures of engineering; and environment and sustainability. 

Who can be a non-HE partner, and do they have to be Leeds based?  

In short: any organisation can be a partner. Large or small, in any sector, all we ask is that the collaboration is clearly justified, will add real value to the project, and have reciprocal benefits. While we really welcome local or regional partnerships, partners can be based anywhere, both in the UK and internationally. 

One of the aims will be to leverage external funding either during the lifetime of the project or shortly after. Can you give any examples of the types of funding similar projects have led to recently? 

Earlier projects have successfully secured funding from the ESRC Digital Good Network and internal International Strategy Fund support. We really encourage applicants to think about working at larger scale, and to be ambitious in their funding plans, perhaps by aiming for an AHRC Research Grant or an award from Arts Council England. One of the other benefits of holding a Sapling Award is that we will support funding applications through both LAHRI and the Cultural Institute, and we have the capacity to make these awards competitive as well as identify appropirate places for funding. 

Can you give any examples of the types of costs the Sapling Fund can cover?  

Funding can cover catering, travel and accommodation – all costs associated with events such as workshops and research visits – as well as time for project-specific staff like research assistants and interns. Each project must include a minimum of £300 for each research assistant involved, which is to be reserved for their specific training and development. You can also use the funding to buy specific pieces of software and training.  

That’s great. As all funding comes with constraints, can you give examples of what won’t be covered by The Sapling Fund? 

The funding derives ultimately from Research England, so there are a few things that we can’t cover. This includes IT equipment, buy-out time for existing staff, and conference attendance. 

One last question, what are your hopes for The Sapling Fund going forwards?  

We really hope that this will help collaborations and projects with research and impact potential to flourish. I’d love to end the academic year with each project having developed further – perhaps staged some amazing events and stimulated new discussions – but also being made sustainable through submitted or imminent funding applications so that the connections and ideas can really come to fruition. 

If our sapling projects can start to grow more branches, deepen their roots, and start to flower then that would make me really happy!