What is the GCRF?

The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) is a £1.5 billion fund with the overarching ambition to ensure the UK takes the lead in addressing the problems faced by developing countries whilst developing the UK’s cutting-edge research abilities.  

The fund forms part of the UK’s Official Development Assistance (ODA), which promotes the long-term sustainable growth of developing countries.

A range of complementary research programmes are being developed by delivery partners – including all UK research councils - which:

  • Promote challenge-led disciplinary and interdisciplinary research, including the participation of researchers who may not previously have considered the applicability of their work to development issues
  • Strengthen capacity for research, innovation and knowledge exchange in the UK and developing countries through partnership with excellent UK research and researchers
  • Provide an agile response to emergencies where there is an urgent research need.

More information can be found in this downloadable guide (.pdf).

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The GCRF is also part of the UK’s support for the success of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and associated 169 targets, which were adopted in 2015 as a mechanism to end poverty, protect the planet and endure prosperity for all.

The SDG Indicator Wizard tool can be a useful way to help determine which Sustainable Development Goal(s) your work may align to.  

GCRF challenge areas 

Three GCRF challenge areas have been selected in order to target efforts towards common goals.  The three areas have been chosen to shape thinking rather than limit ideas, and any projects that can address the challenges are encouraged.  GCRF is committed to supporting excellent research that addresses a significant problem or development challenge, directly contributing to the sustainable and inclusive prosperity of people in developing countries.   

The three challenge areas are:

1. Equitable Access to Sustainable Development

The GCRF vision is to create new knowledge and drive innovation that helps to ensure that everyone across the globe has access to:

  • Secure and resilient food systems supported by sustainable marine resources and agriculture
  • Sustainable health and well being
  • Inclusive and equitable quality education
  • Clean air, water and sanitation
  • Affordable, reliable, sustainable energy.

2. Sustainable Economies and Societies

The pace, nature and patterns of economic growth are threatening the future of our climate and eco-systems and are placing a major burden on the Earth’s resources. At the same time populations are increasingly shifting from rural to urban areas. Each of the five challenge areas listed above must be placed in the context of the need to create prosperous economies and societies. There is also a need to understand and address the local and global challenges of population growth and pressure on the environment and climate, as well as new socio-economic models based on enabling technologies such as digital technologies. The GCRF will also encourage research and innovation that in the longer-term, builds:

  • Sustainable livelihoods supported by strong foundations for inclusive economic growth and innovation
  • Resilience and action on short-term environmental shocks and long-term environmental change
  • Sustainable cities and communities
  • Sustainable production and consumption of materials and other resources

3. Human Rights, Good Governance and Social Justice

It is increasingly recognised that development, human rights, good governance and social justice are indivisible. Developing an understanding of the institutions that embed and promote human rights, good governance and social justice - and the means to strengthen these - is paramount. Progress against the pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has been particularly challenging in fragile and conflict-affected states, while multiple refugee crises are applying mounting pressure in countries of origin, transit and destination. The GCRF will also support research and innovation that enables us to:

  • Understand and respond effectively to forced displacement and multiple refugee crises
  • Reduce conflict and promote peace, justice and humanitarian action
  • Reduce poverty and inequality, including gender inequalities
Get in touch
GCRF@Essex Team