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About

The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) supports UK and international researchers and innovators to take on key issues affecting developing countries through:

  • challenge-led multidisciplinary research 
  • strengthening capability for research, innovation and knowledge exchange  
  • providing an agile response to emergencies

GCRF is part of the UK’s official development assistance (ODA).

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OUR CHALLENGES

Global challenges

Six global development challenges provide a framework through which the GCRF targets work to achieve lasting change.

Conflict

In 2019, the number of people fleeing war, persecution and conflict exceeded 79 million, the highest level ever recorded. Conflict and development are connected. Conflict and crisis can have a catastrophic impact on basic services and infrastructure, from the demolition of schools and health clinics to overwhelming numbers of people relying on already stretched social services. Meanwhile,...

Challenge area image to depict education
OUR CHALLENGES

Global challenges

Six global development challenges provide a framework through which the GCRF targets work to achieve lasting change.

Education

Education reduces inequalities, promotes socioeconomic mobility and is a key to escaping poverty. Over the past decade, major progress has been made towards increasing access to education and school enrolment rates at all levels, particularly for girls. However, about 260 million children were still out of school in 2018 — nearly one fifth of the global population in that age group. And more...

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OUR CHALLENGES

Global challenges

Six global development challenges provide a framework through which the GCRF targets work to achieve lasting change.

Food Systems

The number of people affected by hunger globally has been slowly increasing since 2014. Almost 690 million people went hungry in 2019, up 10 million from the year before, with numbers highest in Asia and rising fastest in Africa. Projections show that the world is not on track to achieve zero hunger and global nutrition targets by 2030 and food security for the most vulnerable population groups...

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OUR CHALLENGES

Global challenges

Six global development challenges provide a framework through which the GCRF targets work to achieve lasting change.

Global Health

Health is a human right. States have an obligation to ensure people can access timely, acceptable, and affordable health care. Despite this, less than half of the world’s population was able to obtain essential health services in 2017. While life expectancy and healthy life expectancy are both increasing, they are still overwhelmingly influenced by income. Low-income and lower-middle-income...

Challenge area image to depict Resilience
OUR CHALLENGES

Global challenges

Six global development challenges provide a framework through which the GCRF targets work to achieve lasting change.

Resilience

Sustainable development cannot be achieved without resilient livelihoods. People around the world are increasingly exposed to natural hazards and crises – from natural disasters and disease epidemics to conflict, market shocks and protracted crises. The current global pandemic is just the latest demonstration of the importance of emergency preparedness. Low and middle-income countries and...

Challenge area image to depict Sustainable Cities
OUR CHALLENGES

Global challenges

Six global development challenges provide a framework through which the GCRF targets work to achieve lasting change.

Sustainable cities

Since 2007, more than half the world’s population has been living in cities and this is projected to rise to 60 per cent by 2030. While cities occupy just 3 percent of the Earth’s land, they account for about 70 percent of global carbon emissions and over 60 percent of resource use. The impact of COVID-19 will be most devastating in poor and densely populated urban areas, especially for the...

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Challenge area image to depict conflict Conflict
In 2019, the number of people fleeing war, persecution and conflict exceeded 79 million, the highest level ever recorded.Conflict and development are connected. Conflict and crisis can have a catastrophic impact on basic services and infrastructure, from the demolition of schools and health clinics to overwhelming numbers of people relying on already stretched social services. Meanwhile,...
Challenge area image to depict education Education
Education reduces inequalities, promotes socioeconomic mobility and is a key to escaping poverty. Over the past decade, major progress has been made towards increasing access to education and school enrolment rates at all levels, particularly for girls. However, about 260 million children were still out of school in 2018 — nearly one fifth of the global population in that age group. And more...
Challenge area image to depict food systems Food Systems
The number of people affected by hunger globally has been slowly increasing since 2014. Almost 690 million people went hungry in 2019, up 10 million from the year before, with numbers highest in Asia and rising fastest in Africa. Projections show that the world is not on track to achieve zero hunger and global nutrition targets by 2030 and food security for the most vulnerable population groups...
Challenge area image to depict global health Global Health
Health is a human right. States have an obligation to ensure people can access timely, acceptable, and affordable health care. Despite this, less than half of the world’s population was able to obtain essential health services in 2017.While life expectancy and healthy life expectancy are both increasing, they are still overwhelmingly influenced by income. Low-income and lower-middle-income...
Challenge area image to depict Resilience Resilience
Sustainable development cannot be achieved without resilient livelihoods. People around the world are increasingly exposed to natural hazards and crises – from natural disasters and disease epidemics to conflict, market shocks and protracted crises. The current global pandemic is just the latest demonstration of the importance of emergency preparedness.Low and middle-income countries and...
Challenge area image to depict Sustainable Cities Sustainable cities
Since 2007, more than half the world’s population has been living in cities and this is projected to rise to 60 per cent by 2030. While cities occupy just 3 percent of the Earth’s land, they account for about 70 percent of global carbon emissions and over 60 percent of resource use.The impact of COVID-19 will be most devastating in poor and densely populated urban areas, especially for...
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WHO WE ARE

UK delivery partners

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) allocates funding to a range of UK delivery partners. Decisions on individual research priorities and excellence are made independently from BEIS.

Academy of Medical Sciences funds researchers across disciplines and from developing countries and the UK to forge new links and generate innovative research ideas to address global challenges. GCRF...

Visit Academy of Medical Sciences

British Academy fosters international collaboration in the humanities and social sciences and promotes the sharing of international perspectives on global challenges. Cities and Infrastructure The...

Visit British Academy

HEFCW provide funding from GCRF to eligible universities in Wales to support research that addresses the challenges faced by developing countries. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial...

Visit Higher Education Funding Council Wales

GCRF funding is administered to Northern Ireland Higher Education Institutions to support research on global challenges. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy allocates GCRF...

Visit Northern Ireland Executive

Royal Academy of Engineering supports ambitious African innovators and develops the engineering and innovation capacity of individuals, organisations and systems in Africa through the Global...

Visit Royal Academy of Engineering

The Royal Society supports exceptional researchers to address the key global challenge themes, promotes international collaboration and strengthens research capacity in developing countries. Future...

VisitRoyal Society

The Scottish Funding Council distributes GCRF funding to Scottish universities for research on global development challenges. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy allocates...

VisitScottish Funding Council

UKRI supports challenge-led research across different disciplines and borders, bringing together consortiums to tackle complex challenges affecting developing countries. UK Research and Innovation...

VisitUK Research and Innovation

The International Partnership Programme (IPP) uses the UK Space sector’s research and innovation strengths to deliver a sustainable, economic or societal benefit to developing countries.  IPP...

VisitUK Space Agency

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TRANSPARENCY

Fund transparency

We are committed to all aspects of transparency including our governance, value for money, where we invest and what we invest in.

FAQs

Frequently asked questions

Browse some commonly asked questions to find out more about the fund and the support we offer

For spend to be eligible as Official Development Assistance (ODA) its primary purpose must be to benefit a country (or more than one country) on the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) list.

The activity and associated spend does not have to take place in an ODA-eligible country for it to score as ODA, as long as ODA-eligible countries are the primary intended beneficiaries of the activity.

The ‘benefit’ should be something that promotes and specifically targets the economic development and welfare of the DAC country(ies).

Benefitting country(ies) should be determined at the formation/award of a project/programme. It should be made clear who this work is primarily intending to benefit. (Unless the scope of the work changes, in which case benefitting country(ies) and eligibility would be re-assessed). There should be no speculation as to who might benefit when determining benefitting country(ies).

There are guidelines to ODA eligibility, but slight differences in context and detail could mean that an activity would or would not be ODA eligible. Therefore when trying to decide whether an activity is ODA eligible, it is important to focus on the questions which would typically be asked for by the OECD.

Questions you may wish to consider regarding your project’s ODA eligibility include:

  • Is the project addressing the economic development and welfare of the country in question?
  • Are the countries involved on the DAC List of ODA Recipients (the Development Assistant Committee of the OECD)
  • Is there a development need that my project or activity is addressing?
  • Is this credible or is there evidence of the need?
  • How would this project or activity be applied in the country?
  • What would the impact of my  project or activity be, and who would benefit?
  • How does my project or activity contribute to sustainable development?
  • Would this lead to a reduction in poverty in a developing country?
  • What would success for this activity look like?
  • How would success or impact be measured?

Any queries about the ODA eligibility of projects should be raised with the relevant delivery partner as early as possible.

No. There is no match requirement from the country or countries involved.

Eligibility for each funding opportunity is outlined in the call documentation which can be accessed through our funding opportunities page.

Yes, you can sign up for Newton Fund and GCRF bulletins with Universities UK International

Challenge Leaders ensure GCRF can have the greatest possible impact on global development. They provide intellectual and strategic leadership for GCRF challenge portfolios, ensuring coherence and impact.
The Challenge Leaders work closely with GCRF investments to ensure a close match between new insights emerging from GCRF researchers and the strategic needs and ambitions of development partners as framed by the Sustainable Development Goals.
They have provided guidance on a series of interdisciplinary calls across the delivery partners designed to enhance the overall impact across the six strategic GCRF Challenge portfolios.
The Challenge Leaders, who are specialists in their area, are enhancing the impact of the GCRF portfolio by building strategic partnerships with key people and organisations working in international development.

Find out more about the GCRF Challenge Leaders

Framed by the Sustainable Development Goals the 12 challenge areas provide a framework through which the GCRF targets work to achieve lasting change.

Equitable access to sustainable development

Our vision is to create new knowledge and drive innovation that helps to ensure everyone across the globe has access to: 

  • secure and resilient food systems supported by sustainable marine resources and agriculture
  • sustainable health and well being 
  • inclusive and equitable quality education 
  • clean air, water and sanitation 
  • affordable, reliable, sustainable energy

Sustainable economies and societies

The pace, nature and patterns of economic growth are threatening the future of our climate and ecosystems and are placing a major burden on the Earth’s resources. GCRF encourages research and innovation that in the longer-term, builds: 

  • sustainable livelihoods supported by strong foundations for inclusive economic growth and innovation 
  • resilience and action on short term environmental shocks and long-term environmental change 
  • sustainable cities and communities
  • sustainable production and consumption of materials and other resources

Human rights, good governance and social justice

It is increasingly recognised that development, human rights, good governance and social justice are indivisible. The GCRF supports research and innovation that enables us to: 

  • understand and respond effectively to forced displacement and multiple refugee crises
  • reduce conflict and promote peace, justice and humanitarian action 
  • reduce poverty and inequality, including gender inequalities.

The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) supports UK and international researchers and innovators to take on key issues affecting developing countries.

It does this through:

  • challenge-led multidisciplinary research
  • strengthening capability for research, innovation and knowledge exchange in developing countries and the UK through partnership with excellent UK researchers
  • providing an agile response to emergencies where there is an urgent need.

GCRF addresses key challenges in DAC-listed countries such as: threats to the sustainability of natural resources; flooding and famine resulting from climate change; environmental degradation; population growth and rapid urbanisation; fragile states, growing inequality, and violence; threats to animal and plant health; and global health challenges including the development of vaccines and viral threats.

The fund is managed by the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and delivered by UK and international partners.

Brand guidelines

Please follow our guidance when using the Newton Fund and GCRF brand and logo. These guidelines offer a comprehensive set of instructions and best practice for anyone designing or working with our brands.