Improvements for future pro² network+ funding rounds

Whilst we are delighted to announce our first three funding recipients for the pro² network+, we recognise that we need to do more to improve diversity and representation in our funded projects.

For our first funding round, the pro² team employed several mechanisms to encourage a fair and diverse selection process:

  • Advertising the funding available widely and early. More specifically the call for proposals was sent via our newsletter and advertised via social media as well as being online. We provided ample time for applicants to write and submit proposals.  

  • Hosting an online Q&A workshop to provide more details about the types of projects we were seeking, and to offer prospective applicants the opportunity to ask questions either about the funding generally or their project ideas specifically. 

  • Reviewing applications via the blind review process which is typically considered best practice in similar academic review settings. More specifically, this included: 
  • Full anonymisation of applications prior to review, removing any reference to names, institutions and prior experience.

  • A conflict of interests cross-check between applications and assessing steering group members to ensure that assessors for the first round of review were not reviewing projects that they may already be familiar with.

Despite the above mechanisms, the applications that were successful in making it to the interview stage all involved an institution represented in the pro² steering group. Furthermore, the diversity of protected characteristics of the successful project teams is not as representative as it should be. The pro² network+ team have discussed this at length and resolved to employ further measures to improve the process for future rounds. These include: more comprehensive advertising of funding available, targeted in ways to increase diversity; more informal opportunities for potential applicants to contact the steering group regarding funding criteria; and employing a review panel that is completely independent of any applicants.

As we strive to improve the diversity of successful applicants in future funding rounds, we will monitor the impact of our changes and continue to evolve our processes if necessary. We also welcome ideas and feedback from the community – please send it to