Making science work for development

Five trends driving change in research for development

21 October 2016

UKCDS has identified five key trends that will drive the research for development landscape over the coming decade, based on interviews and research.

Responding to these trends will require new research agendas, cultures and capacities to enable all countries to respond to their sustainable development challenges.

 The trends UKCDS has identified are as follows:

  1. A new global development landscape with a commitment to science and technology at its heart but a need for a clear global research agenda to deliver on the ambition.
  2. Uneven, but rising global investment to research and innovation leading to changing geographies of partnership and driving calls for southern-led agendas and research management.
  3. A fragmented and rapidly changing development landscape with rapid economic development, rising inequality or increasing fragility occurring in different countries that could lead to tensions in the focus of development research agendas.
  4. The potential for transformative innovation through social and technological ideas may drive funding, butavoiding hype and scaling successful ideas are imperatives.
  5. ‘Wicked’ problems and interdisciplinary research driving the need for new cultures but also challenging incentives around excellence and impact.


  • Landscape analysis
  • Funding and collaboration
  • The Global Impact of UK Research

Contributing organisations