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Interdisciplinary Research Hubs to Address Intractable Challenges Faced by Developing Countries

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.

Research Councils UK invites proposals from eligible UK research organisations to establish and lead a number of challenge-led and impact-focused GCRF Interdisciplinary Research Hubs which meet the aims of Official Development Assistance. Between £8M - £20M (full economic cost) will be available for each Hub, provided over a 5 year period starting on 1st December 2018. Depending on the quality of the applications received we anticipate awarding 12-15 Hubs.

Each Hub is required to demonstrate:

  • Challenge and impact focus – address a specific currently intractable development challenge(s) with realistic pathways with the potential to deliver a broad range of  measurable impacts, and a clear plan for sustaining and further developing the work undertaken during the lifetime of the Hub.
  • Interdisciplinary research excellence – anchored by well-integrated interdisciplinary approach which demonstrates both underpinning research excellence and the ability to think across, between and within the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and that adds significant value to existing global research efforts.
  • Global partnerships – a commitment to capacity building and a programme of research and supporting activities which is co-developed with international partners, through genuine and equitable partnerships with researchers and relevant development agencies; third sector and Civil Society Organisations; industry and other private sector organisations; policy makers.
  • Organisation and leadership – strong research and operational leadership which incorporates robust financial and risk management, assurance, governance and effective monitoring and evaluation, and facilitates the ability to learn and adapt over the lifetime of the Hub.

Assessment will be through a two-stage process. The first stage will comprise of a short mandatory Intention to Submit survey and call for outline proposals. Following this, the most competitive outline proposals will be invited to develop full proposals.

The Intention to Submit survey must be completed by 29th September 2017. Outline proposals must be submitted via Je-S by 16:00 Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) on 9th November 2017. Late submissions will not be accepted.

Please follow this link to complete your intention to submit.

Documents and Guidance

Further information

UK regional engagement events

On behalf of RCUK, a number of organisations will be hosting a series of UK regional engagement events in September and October 2017. These events are open to UK research and user communities across a broad range of disciplines and will provide opportunities to:

  • gain further insights into GCRF Interdisciplinary Research Hubs call
  • share best practice and lessons learned, including insights from existing award holders
  • take part in networking and interactive sessions
  • discuss your proposal with RCUK staff

For further information and to apply to attend one of these events please follow the links below:

Location Date  Further information
University of St Andrews  26 September 2017 Contact
University of Manchester 29 September 2017 Link to registration
SOAS, University of London 22 September 2017 Link to registration
University of Leeds 19 September 2017 Link to registration
Leicester 14 September 2017 Link to registration
University of Essex 16 October 2017 Link to registration
Rutherford Appleton Laboratory 11 October 2017 Link to registration
University of Exeter 4 October 2017 Link to registration
Swansea University 13 October 2017 Link to registration


For further information please, or contact Sian Rowland on 01793 444014.

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