Research Support Office

About GCRF

The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) is a 5 year £1.5 billion fund, launched by the UK Government in 2016. Its aim is to support cutting-edge research that addresses challenges faced by developing countries.

The fund forms part of the UK's Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment, popularly referred to as our overseas or foreign aid budget. ­It represents a fantastic opportunity for researchers – including those who may not have considered the applicability of their work to development issues ­­– to support the UK Aid Strategy

GCRF projects require the development of extremely close partnerships with low & middle income countries (LMICs). The fund is challenge and solution focused, requiring you to understand national development challenges from LMICs and find solutions with LMICs.

The GCRF is overseen by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and is administered through delivery partners including UKRI, the national academies and the regional higher education funding bodies.

The fund aims to tackle global challenges by:

  • promoting challenge-led disciplinary and interdisciplinary research
  • strengthening capacity for research, innovation and knowledge exchange in the UK and low & middle income countries (LMICs) through partnership
  • providing an agile response to emergencies where there is an urgent research need


All work funded through GCRF is expected to address the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These 17 goals were adopted by all UN member states in 2015, as a mechanism to end povertyprotect the planet and ensure prosperity for all.


UN Sustainable Development Goals


To ensure the fund aligns with the SDGs, UKRI have developed a research agenda for enabling change, which incorporates three main challenge areas:

  1. Equitable Access to Sustainable Development

Creating new knowledge and driving innovation to ensure 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


  1. Sustainable Economies and Societies

Encouraging 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.


  1. Human Rights, Good Governance and Social Justice

Supporting 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