6. Financing a Science Shop


6. Financing a Science Shop

How can a Science Shop be financed?​

Science Shops have different sources of funding, depending on the local situation. In SCIPAS report 1 you will find additional information.

University funded

The most readily sustainable model of a Science Shop has the universities provide direct financial support. The Science Shop staff can be dedicated Science Shop staff or can be scientific staff, who are conducting part of their teaching and research in the Science Shop. The project research is carried out either by students for free as part of their education, by the supervisors as part of their ordinary work or by the Science Shop staff. The students are supervised by academic staff or by Science Shop staff.


In The Netherlands, Science Shops are funded fully by their universities. There is no legal obligation to do so, but universities generally mention raising social awareness of students, regional image responsibility, practical education (problem-based learning) and a way of obtaining interesting research topics. 

In The United Kingdom, some Science Shops are registered charities. In this way the Northern Ireland Science Shop obtains funding for one job from the National Lottery. The remaining costs are covered by both Northern Irish Universities.

In Romania, Science Shops were started with Dutch seed-funding (a project funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs through their Matra Programme. This funding source may be applicable to other countries in Central and Eastern Europe, and even Northern Africa/Middle East. Also other governments might have similar funding programmes. 

Part-funding by university

Where universities are unable to finance the full cost of a Science Shop, there is sometimes the possibility of part-funding, by attracting external funding from government or European programmes or private and charitable grants. If the external funding covers concrete projects, overheads from such funding may be able to finance part of the day-to-day administration. Such funding arrangements are inherently less stable, and require Science Shop staff to devote part of their time to fund-raising. University management needs to be aware of the existence of Science Shops and their potential and include them in university-led bidding procedures and proposals.

Non-university funded

  • Social entrepreneurship

Some Science Shops, particularly those independent of universities, act as social entrepreneurs supporting socially beneficial research activity with NGOs by means of staff conducting profitable research or other activities with organisations and funding agencies which can pay market costs. This model could also be developed in universities, with Science Shops being part of research centres where again profits from research conducted on a commercial basis are used to support the socially beneficial scientific research of Science Shops and the day-to-day work operation of the Science Shop.

The Science Shop Bonn finances its activities from paid services, and funded research and communication projects; overheads on several projects and additional project funding allows for some free consultancy for civil society. 

In general

  • Co-funding with NGOs for research and evaluation:

Science shops could be involved with NGOs when the latter are making application for external funding by having science shop research written in to the bid to provide evidence on monitoring and evaluation of services. For funders this would ensure an independent scientific assessment as part of the bid, which is likely to work out to be less expensive than a fully commercial research and evaluation service. This model is most likely to develop when there is a long-term relationship between a Science Shop and a specific NGO.

  • Studentships and research grants:

A further model would provide dedicated studentships and grants for Masters or Doctorate level students or researchers in Science Shops, who would then choose the most scientifically relevant issues to research. If this model could be supplemented with basic funding for the day-to-day work in a Science Shop it could in the case of PhD studentships enable sustained research in one area over a period of years.

How can we find funding for projects?

If you have to look for funding for individual projects this will most likely cause delays. However, if you have a lack of core-funding you are forced to do so. You can choose whether you or the client (or together) will submit a request for funding; rules for financing public institutes or NGOs are usually different, they have access to different sources.

Charities often have a large scope of funding projects in which the focus is on action rather than research.

Government grants are usually well suited for research into social issues (e.g. environment, health). Websites offer a great amount of information. 

Scientific research grants are also possible, e.g. from Research Councils for Applied Sciences. Usually these projects are quite big and success rate of application varies. Also, most often, matching of funding is required.

The European Commission finances projects through their DG Research (for open calls see http://cordis.europa.eu). Of special interest is their Science with and for Society Program. This program usually funds 100% of the costs, no matching is required. 

Some information on new calls is also send on the Living Knowledge Discussion list. The Living Knowledge network links a wide variety of organisations dealing with community based research. You can use this list to express your interest in research projects and research co-operation and to find partners (and/or funding) for projects.

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council  in Canada funds Community University Research Alliances/Community-Campus Partnerships for Health.