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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/global-challenges-research-fund/global-challenges-research-fund-gcrf-how-the-fund-works
The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) is part of the UK’s official development assistance (ODA). Its aim is to support cutting-edge research and innovation that addresses the global issues affecting developing countries.
GCRF forms part of the ODA research and innovation funding from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). It aims to reduce poverty by generating and putting into use knowledge and technology to address development challenges and advance development for the poorest people and countries.
BEIS aims to maximise the practical impact of research and innovation to improve the lives and opportunities of the global poor. In achieving this, the fund will grow the research and innovation capacity of developing countries, as well as contributing to the continued strength of the UK’s research and innovation system, and support wider UK prosperity and global influence.
GCRF was launched in 2016 and has a budgeted investment of £1.5 billion between 2016 and 2021 on collaborative research and innovation through UK universities and research organisations, delivered by the Research Councils, the UK Academies, funding bodies and UK Space Agency.
GCRF harnesses the expertise of the UK’s world-leading researchers, focusing on:
- funding challenge-led disciplinary and interdisciplinary research
- strengthening capability for research, innovation and knowledge exchange in the UK and developing countries
- providing an agile response to emergencies where there is an urgent research or on-the-ground need
BEIS have overall strategic oversight for the GCRF but it works primarily at the research base level and decisions on individual research priorities and excellence are made independently from BEIS. Delivery partners have collectively worked together to produce the overarching UK Strategy for the Global Challenges Research Fund (PDF, 336KB, 11 pages), which sets out the research areas linked to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
As similar challenges can affect multiple countries, the GCRF does not have an explicit priority list of developing countries. Instead, GCRF funding supports universities, industry and research organisations to do disciplinary and interdisciplinary challenge-led research and quick responses to emergencies where urgent research is needed.
While not a requirement, the GCRF may support bilateral and multilateral programmes with partners in other countries, but these will complement and not duplicate activities most appropriately supported under the Newton Fund.
The GCRF is overseen by the BEIS Research and Innovation ODA board, chaired by the UK’s Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation. Independent external advice on the strategic direction of the GCRF comes from the GCRF Strategic Advisory Group (SAG), with membership decided through an open nomination process.
4. Delivery partners
The GCRF funds are allocated through 17 delivery partners: Research Councils UK (RCUK) and the 7 Research Councils, the 4 UK Academies, the UK Space Agency, the Higher Education Funding Council for England and their equivalents in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
For information on current activities, please visit the delivery partner websites:
- Academy of Medical Sciences
- Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
- Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
- British Academy
- Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
- Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
- Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE)
- Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW)
- Medical Research Council (MRC)
- Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
- Northern Ireland Executive
- Research Councils UK (RCUK)
- Royal Academy of Engineering
- Royal Society
- Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)
- Scottish Funding Council (SFC)
- UK Space Agency
5. Bidding for research funding
Calls will be opened at different times according to each delivery partner. For regular information on research calls, please visit the delivery partner websites (see above).
- BEIS official development assistance: research and innovation
- BEIS official development assistance: research and innovation - statement of intent (PDF, 224KB, 7 pages)
- UK strategy for the Global Challenges Research Fund (PDF, 336KB, 11 pages)