Official development assistance (ODA), as defined by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), consists of resource flows 'provided by official agencies' with the main objective of promoting the 'economic development and welfare of developing countries' on the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) list.
Forming part of the UK’s commitment to allocate 0.7% of gross national income to ODA, the Government has launched several funding streams for ODA-compliant research projects, such as the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and the Newton Fund. In addition, the Rutherford Fund will provide fellowships for highly skilled researchers from emerging research powerhouses, as well as the developed world.
There are a number of other ODA-related opportunities which operate to recurring or rolling deadlines, and Universities UK International (UUKi) also publishes a gateway to calls for international research collaboration and knowledge exchange.
Emerging from the 2015 spending review, GCRF will provide £1.5bn of funding over five years for cutting-edge research that addresses the challenges faced by developing countries. Delivery partners include research councils, national academies, the UK Space Agency and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).
In addition to these delivery partners, a significant proportion of funding (£692m) was allocated to support highly interdisciplinary research, and is currently delivered through the Collective Fund.
GCRF focuses on:
- Challenge-led disciplinary and interdisciplinary research
- Strengthening capacity for research and innovation within both the UK and developing countries (any nation on the DAC list of eligible ODA recipients)
- Providing an agile response to emergencies where there is an urgent research need
The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is investing approximately £1m in its cohort of impact acceleration accounts (IAAs) to deliver critical foundation development activity to support GCRF. UEA was one of the institutions awarded an IAA, which formally launched in February 2015. More information can be found on the University’s ESRC impact pages.
During the summer of 2016, RIN held a series of thematic sessions aimed at sharing information about GCRF and discussing how research performed at UEA can best deliver on GCRF priorities. A list of session participants has been compiled to encourage interdisciplinary collaborations.
Research council calls
UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) maintains a list of open calls involving its member councils and the Collective Fund.
Launched in 2014, the Newton Fund aims to 'develop science and innovation partnerships that promote the economic development and social welfare of partner countries'. The 2015 spending review saw the Fund’s lifespan extended from 2019 to 2021, with an initial annual investment of £75m rising to £150m by 2021.
The three areas of activity broadly covered by the Newton Fund are:
- People – increasing capacity in science and innovation, individually and institutionally in partner countries
- Research – research collaborations on development topics
- Translation – creating collaborative solutions to development challenges and strengthening innovation systems
The Fund is administered in the UK by 15 delivery partners, comprising research councils, national academies, the British Council, Innovate UK and the Met Office.
Funded activities must be developed with at least one of the Newton partnering countries (drawn from the DAC list): Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, South Africa and wider Africa, Thailand, Turkey, and Vietnam.
All current opportunities are advertised on the Newton Fund website.
Following the announcement of a £4.7bn windfall for public research and development spending in the 2016 autumn statement, the then Science Minister Jo Johnson confirmed that £100m would be invested in a global talent research fund.
Named after the physicist Ernest Rutherford, this new fund will provide incoming fellowships for senior and early-career researchers (ECRs) from emerging research powerhouses such as India, China, Brazil and Mexico, as well as the developed world.
The first Rutherford Fund calls were launched in 2017.
Academy of Medical Sciences: Daniel Turnberg travel fellowships
Maximum four-week, £3,500 awards, enabling biomedical researchers from the Middle East to visit a research institution of their choice in the UK, or vice-versa – annual deadline in January.
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC): International travel awards
Awards of up to £3,5000 for existing BBSRC grant holders seeking to add an international dimension to their project via short-term travel or research visits – rolling deadline (at least six weeks before proposed travel).
Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIAR): Research workshops
Funding to promote short-term, time-limited interactions of approximately 10 to 20 people on a fundamental research question of global importance – rolling deadline.
Global Innovation Fund (GIF): Social innovations in the developing world
Grants, loans (including convertible debt), and equity investments ranging from $50,000 to $15m to support innovations with the potential for social impact at a large scale in developing countries – rolling deadline.
Human Frontier Science Programme (HFSP): Postdoctoral fellowships
Three-year awards, allowing ECRs to move to a foreign country in order to conduct novel, interdisciplinary research into fundamental biological problems – annual deadline in August or September.
Society for Libyan Studies: Research grants
Funding for projects addressing social and cultural interactions across North Africa – biannual deadlines on 31 July and 30 November.
Wellcome Trust: Doctoral studentships
Three-year funding for humanities or social science doctoral degrees in any area of health, to be undertaken at a host organisation in the UK, Republic of Ireland, or a DAC list country – annual deadline in March.