New Global Challenges Research Fund Opportunities

Globe by Simon Tong CC BY-SA-NC 2.0

A raft of new calls have been released in recent weeks under the UK’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) banner. You can find out more about them by following the links in the table below.

Several of the calls have restrictions on the number which can be submitted by the host institution, and these are marked with an asterisk (*). We will circulate details of any internal processes which apply via email but please contact us at an early stage if you are interested in developing an application for any of these calls.

Northumbria University has a GCRF Working Group and a network of staff with relevant research experience are available to provide guidance and support on bids to these schemes as they develop. Please visit our GCRF webpages to find out more.

Call Title Funder Closing date
Global Challenge Research Fund Foundation Awards STFC 05/09/2017
Global Challenges Research Fund Networking Grants British Academy, Academy of Medical Sciences, Royal Academy of Engineering, Royal Society 06/09/2017
Engineering for Development Research Fellowships Royal Academy of Engineering 06/09/2017*
Institutional “pump-priming” awards to develop new opportunities in Global Nutrition and Health Research MRC 14/09/2017*
Institutional “pump-priming” awards to develop new opportunities in Global Mental Health Research MRC 14/09/2017*
Resilient and sustainable energy networks for developing countries EPSRC 21/09/2017 (EoI by 17/08/2017)
Interdisciplinary Research Hubs to Address Intractable Challenges Faced by Developing Countries RCUK Collective Call 29/09/2017 (Intention to Submit)*


RCUK Energy Programme Regional Meeting – Notes and Observations

Hybrid system by Nenad Kajić
Hybrid system by Nenad Kajić CC BY-SA
Hybrid System by Nenad Kajić CC BY-SA

Last week I traveled down to Leeds to take part in the RCUK Energy Programme Regional Meeting. Although this was billed as a Research Councils UK event, EPSRC were definitely running the show, with an hour of the morning session dedicated to a presentation by Kathryn Magnay, Energy Theme Lead at EPSRC and most of the afternoon devoted to breakout sessions on different topics by various EPSRC Portfolio and Programme Managers.

The Energy Programme is a cross-Council collaborative effort to “position the UK to meet its energy and environmental targets and policy goals through high quality research and postgraduate training.” Alongside EPSRC, which leads the theme, BBSRC, STFC, NERC and ESRC are also involved in co-funding some programmes, as well as Innovate UK and BEIS.

Apart from EPSRC input, there were nine short presentations from Northern universities, including Leeds, Sheffield, York, Newcastle, Durham, and Northumbria. These gave a brief snapshot of energy-related research activity at the respective institutions and suggested that there is a diverse and thriving programme of research in this area.

Key messages:

  • The Energy theme will shift from predominantly managed calls to responsive mode funding. The EPSRC’s Council has a target of 60% Energy theme funding to be driven by the research community via responsive mode grant applications by the end of the delivery plan. However, there are no plans to establish separate panels for Energy themed applications. Normally they will be considered by Engineering panels (or Physical Sciences/Materials where this is the main focus). At the moment, the Energy applications will be ranked in the same ordered list as other types of proposals, but if there is sufficient demand then EPSRC will consider setting up a separate list for Energy themed bids.
  • EPSRC staff gave an overview of the three main responsive mode grant schemes: Standard Grants, Fellowship Grants, and First Grants: Standard grants are often collaborative and in the region of £500k – £1.2M, although smaller and larger values are possible; Fellowships support the development of future research leaders; First Grants are small short grants designed to kickstart your research career as an independent academic.
  • There was a summary of success rates for various schemes compared with all proposals submitted to the Energy theme:
    Establish Fellowships 60%
    Early Career Fellowships 22%
    Postdoctoral Fellowships 21%
    Standard Grants 37%
    First Grants 29%
    All Energy Proposals 35%
  • A session dedicated to Fellowships emphasized the focus is on the candidate and their potential for future leadership, and that the Fellowship should enable you to achieve your personal research vision, your “niche”, and that you should have the ambition to build a team around you and also engage with the public/media. There is up to 12 months allowed in a Fellowship for a secondment to another academic institution or industry. EPSRC would like to see more Fellowship applications in the Energy theme.
  • Equality and diversity is a major priority for this theme following the revelation that only 11% of PIs funded through the Energy theme are female. To help achieve this, there will be a “Diversity Challenge Call” of up to £5M for projects which demonstrate a step-change in the community towards E&D. A call for outline proposals will open in July 2017 and EPSRC will be looking for institutional-level bids.
  • The EPSRC’s recently completed Balancing Capability exercise was pitched as a chance to “create space for new activities”. With regards to the “grow, reduce, maintain” labels, participants were encouraged to read the underpinning description which is unique for each of the 111 research areas and reveals the strategy for each area. Of the energy-related areas, it was noted that “Storage” and “Materials for Energy Applications” are both labelled “Grow”, while “Fuel Cells” is “Reduce”.
  • There are likely to be more Energy-related opportunities available through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, for which priority areas are currently being finalised. Three relevant challenge areas are “New energy technologies”, “Integrated and Sustainable Cities” and “Robotics and Artificial Intelligence”, which has a focus on battery research.

Research Outcomes Submission Period Now Open!

Ready steady go by purplemattfish CC BY-NC-ND 2
Ready steady go by purplemattfish CC BY-NC-ND 2
Ready steady go by purplemattfish CC BY-NC-ND 2

The 2017 RCUK Research Outcomes submission period is now open until 16th March 2017.

Reporting research outcomes annually via Researchfish has now replaced most final reports on grants and is essential to enable RCUK to demonstrate the value and impact of research supported through public funding. RCUK uses information that researchers provide on the outputs, outcomes and impact of their Research Council-funded projects to report to, and engage with, both the Government and the public.

Between now and 16th March 2017 RCUK funded Principal Investigators and third year PhD students funded by RCUK will need to log on to Researchfish and update outcomes, and submit a return to confirm that information is accurate and complete. This can be done at any time during the submission period. All staff and students who need to do this have already been contacted via email, both directly by Researchfish and by RBS.

RBS will providing support throughout the submission and we will be holding a drop-in session on Wednesday 22nd February, in room 315 Northumberland Building. Please come along if you have any questions about your outcomes, submission or the Researchfish system.

If you’d like to complete your submission before then and have a question or problem, please contact your Research Funding and Policy Manager for assistance.

Please contact directly if you have any questions about the system itself.


BIS Launches Global Challenges Research Fund Survey

Globe by Simon Tong CC BY-SA-NC 2.0
Globe by Simon Tong CC BY-SA-NC 2.0

Yesterday BIS launched a call for evidence to inform the high level challenges which will form the basis of the funding calls for the Global Challenges Research Fund. We summarised what we know so far about the GCRF last week.

“We are looking for inputs from individuals and institutions across all academic disciplines, non-governmental organisations and industrial sectors both in and outside of the UK. Please alert colleagues who may wish to respond.

The results from the survey will be reviewed alongside other feedback. We will share a short summary of evidence we have collected and outline how that has informed our strategy in the autumn.”

This is your chance to have your say on how the programme should be steered. The survey is via an online webform and it closes on 22nd August.


RCUK Global Challenges Research Fund- what we know so far…

The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) is a £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.

Below are some slides summarising what we know so far…


RCUK Global Challenges Research Fund ‘Town Hall’ meetings in June/July

RCUK has organised a series of Town Meetings to gather input from stakeholders on the strategy and delivery of the Global Challenges Research Fund.

The GCRF is a £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.

Attendees will have the opportunity to engage in high-level discussions around the initial RCUK GCRF challenge areas, as well as practicalities around delivery of the fund, in particular building capability overseas, enabling interdisciplinarity, ensuring impact in developing countries, and ensuring ODA compliance.

Registration is now open to individuals from any academic discipline or professional area (e.g. civil society organisations, NGOs etc.) with a vested interest in international development and global challenges. Please note that while this is an open registration process, individuals should be able to represent a breadth of discipline areas and approaches, and will be required to contribute to strategic discussions that may be outside of their usual academic or professional area(s) of expertise.

There will be four events:

29 June – The Village Hotel, Coventry

4 July – The Amba Hotel, London

6 July – The Angel Hotel, Cardiff

11 July – The Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh

If you would like to attend, please send a brief justification as soon as possible explaining your current position and your interest in and experience of international development and tackling global challenges to Places will be allocated on a first come first serve basis at the discretion of RCUK.




Interested in research collaboration with Central and South America?

UK HE International Unit has flagged up a number of opportunities for researchers, particularly ECRs, interested in collaborating with Brazil - Douglas Fernandes CC by 2.0)partners in Central and South America.

  1. Researcher Links and ‘Initial Institutional Collaboration’ – calls now open for Peru and Uruguay

Deadline for all calls with Peru: 1 September

Deadline for calls with Uruguay and other countries: 28 September  

Researcher Links Workshops call (also Morocco, UAE, Qatar) – this brings together early career researchers in the UK and the partner country to allow them to make international connections that can improve the quality of their research.

Researcher Links Travel Grants call (also Morocco, Israel) – provide financial support for early-career researchers to undertake an international research placement to strengthen links for future collaboration, build research capacity in developing economies, and enhance the researcher’s career opportunities.

Initial Institutional Collaborations provides small-scale seed funding (£30, 000) for collaborations between the UK and Peru to:

  • Initiate new research and innovation collaborations between academic groups, departments, and institutions in partner countries and the UK
  • Develop existing collaborations at group, departmental, and institutional level
  • Encourage these collaborations to work with non-academic organisations and individuals to support the exchange of research and innovation expertise and the translation of research knowledge into tangible benefits
  • Establish local hubs for UK-partner country activity in a particular area, enabling engagement from the wider research and innovation community

Grants are for £30, 000 and more information is available in the

2. New Chile RCUK-CONICYT Research Partnerships – Call for Proposals

Applications open 27 August; Deadline: 8 October 2015

Research Councils UK (RCUK) and Chile’s National Commission for Scientific Research and Technology (CONICYT) invite applications to the RCUK-CONICYT Research Partnerships Call in the following areas:

  • Disaster Management
  • Diet and health
  • Education, Inequality and Social Reform
  • Sustainable Aquaculture for Nutrition and Food Security

 Full details and call documents are available on the RCUK website.



Major changes to ESRC Standard Grants funding thresholds


The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) have recently announced some major changes to their Standard Grants scheme that will be coming on July 1st.

Applicants can currently apply for a grant of between £250k and £2m under this scheme all year, but from July 1st these limits will change to £350k and £1m. An annual scheme will then offer grants above £1m.

This is clearly ESRC’s response to demand management as opposed to the sanctions that NERC have implemented. We can be glad they haven’t gone down the sanctions route, but the narrowing of the scheme will cause some headaches. If you have any concerns on this feel free to have a chat with your RBS Faculty Contact, or Research Lead.