Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF)

About the Global Challenges Research Fund

The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) is a five year, £1.5 billion fund announced by the UK Government to support cutting-edge research that addresses the challenges 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
  • GCRF is administered through delivery partners including the Research Councils and national academies.

GCRF forms part of the UK's Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment, which is monitored by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). 

ODA-funded activity focuses on outcomes that promote the long-term sustainable growth of countries on the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) list. GCRF funding will be awarded in a manner that fits with Official ODA guidelines.

The GCRF will be delivered through the seven UK Research Councils, the National Academies and HEFCE. 

Some calls will be managed by a single funder but over the five-year life-span of the fund an increasing proportion of the budget will be managed jointly to support interdisciplinary programmes.

Useful links

UK Strategy for GCRF

UKRI interactive map of funded projects

UKRI GCRF home page including a list of current calls

Official ODA guidance from OECD

GCRF guidance on ODA

GCRF Challenge Areas

DAC list of ODA recipients

List of UN Sustainable Development Goals

UK Aid Strategy

ICAI Report on UK Aid in a Changing World

UKCDS introduction to the GCRF

UKRI guidance on due diligence checks for overseas partners


DAC – Development Assistance Committee (of the OECD)

GCRF – Global Challenges Research Fund

ICAI – Independent Commission for Aid Impact

ODA – Official Development Assistance

OECD – Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development

SDG’s – Sustainable Development Goals (UN)

UKCDS – UK Collaborative on Development Sciences

UKRI – UK Research and Innovation

Internal funding to support GCRF activity

The University has been awarded £300,000 for 2020/2021 for GCRF activities. These funds will be distributed through an internal competition. We anticipate funding projects from a minimum of £30k with no upper limit. Projects can range from 4 months to 12 months in length depending on start date. All projects must be concluded by July 2021.

Guidance and application form (internal access only).

Thre are two rounds of funding:

Capacity and capability building and Pump-priming activities – Deadline 1 June 2020

Complete the above application form.

Rapid response requests – Open call

Email a short summary of the project to Before applying please read the above guidance document.

Latest GCRF funded projects

GCRF – latest news

Pre-announcement of new UKRI GCRF Collective Programme – Multiple & Systemic Risks.

A new Internal Fund to support GCRF related activity has been launched – see above for details on how to apply.

Professor Rupert Jones led a successful crowdfunding bid to build a pulmonary rehabilitation centre in Kampala to treat people with chronic lung disease without using drugs – follow the link for further information – April 2018.

New GCRF page on UKRI website.

GCRF Challenge Leaders appointed.

Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) - Review of GCRF.

Plymouth projects and activities

Project - SoilSCANER: Soil Science for Citizen ActioN and EmpoweRment Led by Professor Will Blake and funded by the BBSRC Citizen Science programme

Project Sustainable prevention of foot ulceration secondary to diabetic and leprotic neuropathy in Nepal This project is led by Professor Jonathan Marsden and aims to undertake research to inform the design of effective footwear and build research capacity in Nepal.

Project One Ocean Hub Professor Kerry Howell is a partner in the new One Ocean Hub led by Strathclyde University, which aims to transform our response to the urgent challenges facing our oceans.

Project  Jali Ardhi (Care for the Land) project: Realising land management change in degraded Maasai grazing lands Led by Professor Will Blake and funded by NERC as part of the Innovation Follow On call – ODA.

Project  Blue Communities Led by Professor Melanie Austen and funded by the GCRF and UKRI via NERC.

Project – Socio-ecological resilience to soil erosion driven by extreme climatic events: past, present and future challenges in East Africa Led by Professor Will Blake and funded by NERC.

News article – Soil erosion in Tanzania – in pictures Published in The Guardian on 4 May 2017.

NetworkDisplacement Studies Research Network Led by Dr Sana Murrani.

Project – Conserving Cultural Heritage: The Resilience of Forcibly Displaced Syrian Artisans in Jordan Led by Dr Haya Al-Dajani and funded by ESRC and AHRC.

Project – Performing Empowerment: Disability, Dance, and Inclusive Development in Post-Conflict Sri Lanka Co-led by Adam Benjamin and funded by AHRC. Lead organisation is University of York.

Project – Research for Emergency Aftershock Forecasting (REAR) Co-led by Professor Iain Stewart and funded by NERC, ESRC and AHRC. Lead organisation University of Edinburgh.

Project – To work towards the exchange of robotics technology for the safe and efficient harvest of fruits and vegetable crops grown in glasshouses and plastic tunnels Led by Dr Martin Stoelen and funded by STFC (Newton Fund).

Project A development study to examine feasibility and acceptability of pulmonary rehabilitation in Uganda for adults with chronic respiratory disease Led by Rupert Jones and funded by MRC, Wellcome and DFID.