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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 countries. 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 interdisciplinary Challenge-led Grants with a focus on resilience.

This £8 million call invites proposals from researchers across all academic disciplines. These interdisciplinary consortia will generate new approaches to significant and complex resilience problems facing developing countries and will consist of one UK research group and two developing country research groups. The awards will provide up to £500,000 and 2.5 years of support to these research consortia.

Objectives of the Challenge-led Grants are:

  • Funding excellence - Generate excellent and novel research on global challenges directly and primarily relevant to developing countries that cuts across multiple thematic areas covered by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • Supporting collaboration - Support the development of sustainable consortia comprising outstanding researchers in the UK and the best research groups in DAC-list countries to generate new approaches to the most significant and complex problems faced by developing countries.
  • Promotion interdisciplinary approaches - Promote collaboration across different disciplines to take an interdisciplinary approach that generates new knowledge and insights from across different research disciplines.
  • Strengthening research capacity - Strengthen research capacity in developing countries through collaboration, sharing of knowledge and skills, and exchange of staff between research groups in the UK and their partners in developing countries.

The scheme is not intended to supplement existing grants.

The proposed research must be interdisciplinary and fall within the remit of the UK National Academies and be interdisciplinary:

  • Royal Society (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 proposed research addresses two or more GCRF thematic areas. 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 the UK academies and is interdisciplinary.
  • the consortia consists of one UK research group and two research groups from developing countries.

Before applying, please ensure that you meet all the eligibility requirements, which are explained in the scheme notes.

Applicants can only submit one application per round.

What is the scheme’s value and tenure?

This scheme provides:

  • a contribution of up to £500,000 and will be dependent on case for support
  • support for two and a half 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, networking costs, small pieces of equipment (no more than £10,000), research assistant salary, training and skills development costs, contribution to the time of the applicant or co-applicant(s) and contribution to overheads.

All projects must start by March 2019.

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 members of the Challenge-Led Grants selection panel with the most appropriate expertise. Following this a shortlist is drawn up. Shortlisted proposals will be subject to high quality independent peer review, and once complete these proposals will then be discussed at a Panel meeting. 

Find further guidance about the Global Challenge Research Fund.

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