Making science work for development



The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) is a new 5-year £1.5 bn funding stream, to ensure that UK research takes a leading role in addressing the problems faced by developing countries. 

The GCRF is managed by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and will run from 2016-2021, harnessing the expertise of the UK’s world-class research base to pioneer new ways of tackling global challenges, such as in strengthening resilience and response to crises, promoting global prosperity, tackling extreme poverty and helping the world’s most vulnerable. 

 The GCRF strategy outlines its support for cutting-edge research that addresses the challenges faced by developing countries through: 

  • challenge-led disciplinary and interdisciplinary research
  • strengthening capacity for research and innovation within both the UK and developing countries
  • providing an agile response to emergencies where there is an urgent research need

The GCRF is overseen by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BIS) and will be delivered through a number of partners and programmes. These include:

  • The Research Councils and the National Academies who each have an allocated annual amount of funding to support a collection of programmes.
  • HEFCE who will support the research infrastructure and capability in higher education institutes, to ensure that the full economic costs of research are supported.
  • A new International Partnership Programme which will enable the use of UK satellite or space technology for services such as telecommunications in remote locations and for rapid responses to disasters.
  • An interdisciplinary pot of funding, the 'GCRF Collective Fund', which will promote research around Global Challenge themes such as health, clean energy, sustainable agriculture, conflict and humanitarian action and foundations for economic development. Over the summer of 2016 the Research Councils consulted the research and stakeholder community to help inform priority research areas. 

GCRF funding allocations

Further details about the fund, including eligibility and information about funding calls, will be added as this information is made available. You can search for open funding calls here.

Where it funds

Research funded through the GCRF is part of the UK’s Official Development Assistance (ODA). Therefore, research programmes must have the primary purpose of promoting the economic development and welfare of Low or Middle Income Countries (LMICs) on the DAC list of ODA recipients as its main objective.

DAC List of ODA Recipients


GCRF funding will be awarded in a manner that fits with official ODA guidelines. The ODA guidance for the GCRF is available here.

When assessing whether an activity is eligible as ODA or not, delivery partners will consider whether projects and programmes satisfy OECD criteria on eligibility by whether or not they:

  • aim to promote the welfare and economic development of a country or countries on the DAC list of ODA recipients
  • are designed to address a development need, and
  • focus on developing country problems.

Further links:

  • Research Councils UK GCRF website
  • If  you are looking for connections with an international organisation or NGO based in Geneva, contact Elisabeth [dot] Wallaceatfco [dot] gov [dot] uk (Elisabeth Wallace) at SIN Switzerland for support.