Having established its advisory role, the Fellowship started to promote engineering excellence in industry, an objective set by the new President Viscount Caldecote KBE DSC DL FREng. A priority was to improve the links between industry and higher education, and the Fellowship launched its first industrial research fellowship scheme in 1982 supported by the Wolfson Foundation.

New links with the Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC) enabled the Fellowship to influence research strategies and to develop its own activities. In 1983 it took over SERC's International Visiting Fellowship scheme, which sent outstanding young engineers to work overseas for up to a year to broaden their experience.

Armed with these successes, the Fellowship asked the government to support its programmes, its interdisciplinary and growing international activities, and studies on national engineering issues. Grant-in-Aid began in 1984 with a modest £150,000 a year, which enabled an expansion in activities, including its advisory role. Fellows suggested looking at future technological issues and requirements, leading in 1985 to a study for the Department of the Environment on abatement technologies for treating acidic emissions.

The Fellowship now sought funding from industry and other sources and the increasing funding leverage and industrial support for its activities helped to facilitate a steady increase in Grant-in-Aid. The first substantial industrial funding came in 1984 with the Panasonic Trust, set up by Matsushita Electric to celebrate ten years of successful operation in Britain. This continues to provide grants to assist engineers in updating their knowledge and skills to keep up with technical and safety developments.