Newton Prize reviewer guidance notes

Background on the Newton Prize

The Newton Prize recognises the excellent research and innovation supported by the Newton Fund. It aims to incentivise researchers and businesses to participate in the Newton Fund as partners with the UK, and to work on the most important challenges facing Newton countries. The concept for the Newton Prize has been developed to raise the profile of the Newton Fund, to demonstrate how UK partnerships with Newton countries are solving global challenges, and to celebrate the impacts made as a result of these international collaborations.

Each year, from 2017 until 2021, Newton funded research, R&D and/or innovation partnerships or teams will be awarded the Newton Prize. In 2020, one Newton Prize will be awarded to each of the 2020 Newton Prize eligible partner countries which are Egypt, Jordan, Kenya, South Africa and Turkey. There is no competition between the eligible countries for these prizes. There will be one additional prize, the Chair’s Prize, which is open to all to apply.

General guidance for our reviewers

We are looking for experts to review Newton Prize applications. Register now to become an expert reviewer for this year’s prize.

Please familiarise yourself with the Newton Prize: Guidance Notes, Terms and Conditions and Selection Criteria in order to assess the applications assigned to you.

For all applications:

When assessing Newton Prize applications, the over-riding concern is that candidates must make a case for the following:

  • The excellence of the research and innovation under the Newton funded project.
  • Its contribution to wider impacts and development challenges i.e. an effect on, change to or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment, or quality of life, beyond academia and business. This could include when new technologies or knowledge increase growth and productivity. An example would be demonstrating contributions in areas such as health and well-being where significant challenges exist including Zika, antimicrobial resistance, pandemic diseases, non-communicable diseases and public health.
  • Applicants making a case for how a project has furthered research, innovation and perhaps individual commercial/business objectives will not be sufficient. Applicants must go further to demonstrate the broader (actual and potential) benefits to society and to improving people’s lives, which may include benefits to broader economic growth and productivity.
  • Partnerships formed and their contribution to the success of their Newton Funded project/work.
  • Value for money, and how plans for spending the prize money will be additional to the work already being undertaken and will further the development of the project and increase its future impact.

A central component of prize-winning applications will be those which clearly explain their contribution to solving development challenges. This is because the Newton Fund draws upon Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding to contribute to realising the ambitions of the UK aid strategy, thereby making progress on the global effort to address the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs embody a global commitment to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path to development, stimulating action over the next 10 years in areas of critical importance for humanity and the planet while eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions. The Newton Prize has clear links with the UN SDGs through its emphasis on providing collaborative solutions to development issues faced by partner countries. The emphasis on inter-disciplinary and partnership building with developing countries that underpins the Newton Fund, signals an ambition and an intention to achieve a positive transformational impact on development research and on sustainable global development.

Application assessment

Conflicts of interest and confidentiality: Please note that the contents of applications should be kept confidential. It is also very important that you flag to us if you have any conflict of interest in marking any application. If this is the case, please contact The Newton Prize team immediately ([email protected]) and the affected application will be allocated to another Reviewer.

We expect a very diverse cross-section of applicants, including small and large projects, individuals or research teams/collaborations, and from well-established projects to those that have started more recently. In Part A of the process applicants are required to make the case for the results and impact their previous or current Newton funded work has delivered in order to be considered prize-worthy. If applicants are deemed to have evidenced the value of their work successfully in Part A then they will be invited to submit a proposal at Part B for further work that they would deliver if they were to win a Newton Prize. We ask you to exercise your judgement in marking applications to help us identify truly prize worthy applications in the context of their individual circumstances.

The application will be marked against specific selection criteria.

This is a prestigious prize; only a small number of awards will be made, so we need your considered opinion about whether the application merits such recognition. We are looking for your assessment of the excellence and impact of the application’s existing research and innovation work, as well as whether their plans for spending the prize money, if awarded, are realistic and would deliver impressive further research and impact.

Please note that some of your comments as indicated may be made available as feedback to the applicants in an anonymised format to help inform their future research and innovation work.

Further guidance is provided in the selection criteria, in relation to marking the application responses under the different selection criteria, including the question numbers within the application form that you will need to look at to provide your opinion on how applicants have met, or not met, each criterion.

Please note that the deadline for the submission of Reviewer’s scores and comments is:

Part A: Tuesday 19 May at 12 noon (UK local time).

Part B: Tuesday 4 August at 12 noon (UK local time).

If you have any questions or need assistance, please contact the Newton Prize team: [email protected]


Contact us

The UK National Commission for UNESCO (UKNC) is contracted to administer the Newton Prize application process by the UK Government Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Application/other enquiries

Ellie Anghileri
[email protected]


Media enquiries

Mark Gardner
Senior Communications Manager
[email protected]


Follow us on twitter