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Challenge-led Grants

This scheme is now closed and will not be opening to applications.

The scheme provided 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 launched the interdisciplinary Challenge-Led Grants with a focus on resilience.

This £8 million call invited proposals from researchers across all academic disciplines. The interdisciplinary consortia will generate new approaches to significant and complex resilience problems facing developing countries and consist of one UK research group and two developing country research groups.

Objectives of the Challenge-led Grants were:

  • 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.
  • Promote 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 proposed research had to be interdisciplinary and fall within the remit of the UK National Academies:

  • 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)

What was the scheme’s eligibility?

Applicants could apply for the scheme if: 

  • the proposed research addressed two or more GCRF thematic areas. The proposal had to ultimately benefit the economic development and welfare of developing countries (i.e. be compliant with the ODA guidelines)
  • the proposal fell within the remit of the UK academies and was interdisciplinary
  • the consortia consisted of one UK research group and two research groups from developing countries

What was the scheme’s value and tenure?

The scheme provided a contribution of up to £500,000 of support for two and a half years.

Funds could be used flexibly on activities directly relevant to the proposed research. Requests included: consumables, travel and subsistence, networking costs, small pieces of equipment, research assistant salary, training and skills development costs, contribution to the time of the applicant or co-applicant(s) and contribution to overheads.

The 15 Challenge-Led Grants were announced in April 2019.

Find further guidance about the Global Challenge Research Fund.