Interdisciplinary Research Hubs to address intractable challenges faced by developing countries

The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) is a five-year £1.5 billion 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.

Following a highly competitive call for outline proposals, UK Research and Innovation invites 52 outline proposals representing a broad range of development challenges to develop full proposals. Between £8 million and £20 million (100% full economic cost) will be available for each Hub, provided over a five-year period starting on 1 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; policymakers.
  • 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.

Applications which do not adequately demonstrate genuine interdisciplinarity, equitable international partnerships and breadth across and between a number of Sustainable Development Goals, will not be considered fundable.

Assessment of the full proposals will be through a two-stage competitive process. The first stage will comprise an external expert review and assessment by an international, interdisciplinary panel. Following this, the most competitive full proposals will be invited to interview.

Please note that submission to this call is by invitation only. Full proposals must be submitted via Je-S by 16:00 British Summer Time on 24 May 2018Late submissions will not be accepted.

Documents and guidance

Further information

Information about the outline stage of this call can be found below:

The outline call text and guidance documents are available (as a combined PDF). (PDF, 2.3MB)


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