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Challenge-led Grants

This scheme provides funding to support Research Consortia involving groups in the UK and developing countries to address Global Challenges.



The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) is a £1.5 billion fund announced by the UK Government to support cutting-edge research that addresses the challenges faced by developing or Low and Middle Income countries (LMICs). The Fund forms part of the UK's Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment which is monitored by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

As part of the GCRF, the UK National Academies have launched the Challenge-led Grants to provide three years of support for Research Consortia focussing on addressing global challenges. These consortia will consist of one UK-based laboratory and up to three research groups from developing countries. Funding will cover research expenses, travel and subsistence costs, PhD training, and limited funds for equipment.

Objectives of the Challenge-led Grants are:

  • Funding excellence - Funding exceptional research programmes and researchers to address global challenges which are relevant to development
  • Building research capacity - Using the strengths of the UK research base to build research capacity in developing countries through collaboration in global challenge areas relevant to development
  • Promoting collaboration - Enabling researchers to undertake collaborative research in support of socio-economic development in OECD DAC countries
  • Training research leaders - Supporting the next generation of research leaders in developing countries

The scheme is not intended to supplement existing grants.

The proposed research must fall within the remit of one or more than one of the academies:

  • Royal Society (the natural sciences, including engineering)
  • British Academy (social sciences and humanities)
  • Academy of Medical Sciences (medical and clinical research)
  • Royal Academy of Engineering (engineering)

Am I eligible to apply?

You can apply for this scheme if: 

  • your proposal addresses interdisciplinary research spanning two or more GCRF thematic areas, including at least one of the themes from the sub-set ‘Human Rights, Good Governance and Social Justice’. The proposal must ultimately benefit the economic development and welfare of developing countries (i.e. compliant with the ODA guidelines)
  • your proposal falls within the remit of more than one of the UK academies

Before applying, please ensure that you meet all the eligibility requirements, which are explained in the scheme notes. The scheme notes will be published shortly.

Applicants can only submit one application per round.

What is the scheme’s value and tenure?

This scheme provides:

  • up to £500,000 and will be dependent on case for support
  • support for 3 years (requests for no-costs extensions will be considered)
  • funds which can be used flexibly on activities directly relevant to the proposed research. Requests can include: Consumables, travel and subsistence, meetings and events, small pieces of equipment (no more than £10K), research assistant salary and training and capacity strengthening

All projects must start by December 2018.

What is the application process?

Applications should be submitted through the Royal Society’s grants and awards management system (Flexi-Grant®). Applications will be reviewed by the Royal Society Challenge Grants selection panel, a broad scientific panel. 

Further details about the award, including information on how to apply and the assessment criteria, can be found in the scheme notes. The scheme notes will be published shortly.

Find further guidance about the Global Challenge Research Fund.