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Global Challenges Research Fund

The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) is a 5-year £1.5Bn fund and a key component in the delivery of the UK Aid Strategy: tackling global challenges in the national interest. The fund aims to ensure that UK research takes a leading role in addressing the problems 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 Global Challenges Research Fund is an initiative led by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) which operates across a number of delivery partners, including the UK Research Councils, UK Higher Education Funding bodies, the Academy of Medical Sciences, Royal Society, British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering and UK Space Agency.

GCRF forms part of the UK's Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment, which is monitored by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). ODA-funded activity focuses on outcomes that promote the long-term sustainable growth of countries on the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) list. GCRF funding will be awarded in a manner that fits with Official ODA guidelines.

When assessing whether an activity is eligible as ODA or not, delivery partners 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.

The GCRF delivery partners have prepared some additional guidance on ODA . Any applications to the GCRF will need to comply with these guidelines.

A booklet detailing GCRF funding within the first year of the programme is also available. 

The project is currently being led by:

  • Professor Andrew Thompson – GCRF Champion
  • Dr Mark Claydon-Smith – GCRF Programme Manager
  • Dr Robert Felstead - Senior Policy Manager GCRF
  • Ms Eloise Meller - Senior Policy Manager GCRF
  • Dr Alexandra Spittle – Senior Policy Manager GCRF
  • Dr Sian Rowland – Senior Policy Manager GCRF
  • Ms Rebecca Tanner – Senior GCRF Analyst

Please direct all enquiries to gcrf@rcuk.ac.uk

GCRF information videos

The RCUK GCRF team have developed the following standalone videos to provide an overview of key aspects of the GCRF and the call for Interdisciplinary Research Hubs to Address Intractable Challenges Faced by Developing Countries. A copy of the presentations from these videos is available. 

Partnering on Interdisciplinary Research Hubs

If you are not currently involved in an Interdisciplinary Research Hub proposal but are interested in partnering on one, you can find information about those looking for additional partners here.

Open Calls

Call title Council Closing date
EqUIP call for collaborative research on sustainability, equity, wellbeing and cultural connections AHRC 30 November 2017
Sustainable Agriculture for Sub-Saharan Africa (SASSA) BBSRC 8 November 2017
BBSRC GCRF Strategic Training Awards for Research Skills (GCRF-STARS) BBSRC 1 November 2017
Pre-announcement: Global Challenges Research Fund Translation Award BBSRC 25 October 2017
Sustainable Agriculture for Sub-Saharan Africa (SASSA) call BBSRC 8 November 2017
AHRC-MRC Global Public Health: Global Challenge Research Fund Partnership Awards (Call 2) AHRC 26 October 2017

Information on previous calls can be found here.

Recent Announcements


Call announcements and other information related to GCRF funding can be found below:

Global issues from health to humanitarian crises to be tackled in ambitious research programme 21/07/2017
Pre-announcement:  mental health, education and skills, decent work and transitions towards sustainable and inclusive societies. 04/08/2017
Pre-announcement: Sustainable Agriculture for Sub-Saharan Africa (SASSA) (Opens 4 September 2017) 25/07/2017
Sustainable Development Goal Interactions: The role of environmental science (4-5 September 2017) 25/07/2017
The UK Strategy for the Global Challenges Research Fund is now published 04/06/2017
Second GCRF Collective Fund call will be launched in late summer 2017 21/04/2017
Two new ESRC centres to help world's poorest and vulnerable 20/04/2017
ESRC GCRF Postdoctoral Fellowships call 20/04/2017
Secondary Data Analysis Initiative (SDAI) Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) highlight 16/03/2017
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