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Global Challenges Research Fund update

(17 March 2017)

About GCRF
The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) is a five-year £1.5 billion funding stream to support cutting-edge research that addresses challenges faced by developing countries.  Funded mainly through partnerships involving the Research Councils and Academies, GCRF forms part of the UK Official Development Assistance (ODA) and delivering impact for developing countries is a central priority. 

Opportunity for Humanities
The fund presents an exciting opportunity for researchers in Humanities to take a leading role, whether by developing and extending existing research capabilities or channelling expertise into new areas of benefit to developing countries. It offers a significant mechanism to support the priorities highlighted in our Addressing Global Inequalities Beacon

Success to date: Postdoctoral Fellowships and strategic networks’
Our researchers were quick to respond to the first round of GCRF funding calls last summer, with some early successes. ESRC GCRF Postdoctoral Fellowships have been awarded to three early career researchers to enable them to further exploit the findings from their PhD research. Also, Professor Richard Heeks and Dr Admos Chimhowu are leading ESRC GCRF Strategic Research Network grants, a foundational investment by ESRC to identify key areas of research and to build the capacities and relationships required to support future activity. We are also partnering on a range of GCRF awards led by other institutions. You can read more about Humanities GCRF research awards to date here

Growing research capabilities
A significant portion of the GCRF is held in the form of a collective fund for cross-disciplinary challenges. The first Collective Fund call focused on ‘growing research capabilities’. Professor David Hulme of GDI, working closely with Professor Julien Harou in MACE, has reached the shortlist with an innovative £9 million proposal, bringing together colleagues from engineering, physical, social and agricultural sciences, which aims to transform how new dams and systems of new and existing dams are assessed, selected, designed and operated to provide water, food and energy security for all. Decisions are due in late March. 

Future planning
Professor Colette Fagan, Vice-Dean for Research, is keen to harness research expertise across the Faculty to drive our response to forthcoming GCRF calls. She commented: “As exemplified in our Addressing Global Inequalities Beacon, we are leading the way in creating and sharing knowledge to address complex societal challenges across the globe. Our world-leading research on poverty, inequalities, conflict affected and fragile states, and governance offers the potential to engage with GCRF across a range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary initiatives. I strongly encourage colleagues to consider how their research plans could be enhanced by this significant funding stream.” 

GCRF workshops – open to all
In recognition of the need to move quickly to respond to forthcoming GCRF calls, the Humanities RSS team is co-ordinating two GCRF workshops. These are open to all interested colleagues and we welcome your participation. You can find out more about the events here: 

Research Support Services (RSS) support
The Humanities RSS team is keen to ensure that you receive all the help you need to develop and submit timely and high quality proposals to GCRF schemes. We will be on hand at the GCRF workshops to provide information on the range of assistance we can offer and to answer any queries. We look forward to seeing you! 

Humanities local contact for GCRF
Elaine Edwards, Research Support Manager (Strategic Projects) 

University central contact for GCRF
James Evans, Senior Research Policy Officer, RBESS

Further information on GCRF, including live calls, is available on the University’s RBESS intranet.

Newton Fund opportunities
The Newton Fund sits alongside GCRF, providing a further substantial opportunity for ODA compliant research. A UK investment of over £735 million is planned by 2021, with match funding provided by country partners. A summary of the Newton Fund, including information on all the main schemes, can be found here