The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) is a £1.5 billion fund to support cutting-edge research that addresses the challenges faced by ODA recipient countries.

As part of our overall GCRF strategy and in order to facilitate partnerships with colleagues in these countries, we have established a GCRF Partnership Fund. This is intended to forge relationships and collaborative projects rather than to support the development of future funding applications. The GCRF Partnership Fund is supported by UKRI as part of our QR allocation from Research England. It is managed centrally to ensure compliance with Official Development Assistance (ODA) objectives.

Details of the scheme are below.


The GCRF Partnership Fund is open to all academics, researchers and postgraduate research students based at the University.

ODA Compliance

To be ODA compliant, all activity must directly and primarily benefit the economic and social problems faced by developing countries on the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) list.

Questions to consider when writing the ODA compliance statement:

  • Is the project addressing the economic development and welfare of the country in question?
  • Are the countries involved on the DAC List of ODA Recipients (the Development Assistant Committee of the OECD)?
  • Is there a development need that my project or activity is addressing?
  • Is this credible or is there evidence of the need?
  • How would this project or activity be applied in the country?
  • What would the impact of my project or activity be, and who would benefit?
  • How does my project or activity contribute to sustainable development?
  • Would this lead to a reduction in poverty in a developing country?
  • What would success for this activity look like?
  • How would success or impact be measured?

Funding available

The Kent GCRF Partnership Fund for 2018/19 is worth £40,000. There is no upper limit to how much can be applied for (other than the total for each round), but value for money will be an assessment criterion.

£10,000 will be available in the first round, and £15,000 each in the next two rounds. 


There are three rounds of the scheme, with the following deadlines:

  • 15 October 2018 – 4pm
  • 3 December 2018 – 4pm
  • 4 February 2019 – 4pm

How to apply

All applications must use this form (Word). They must be submitted by 4pm on the deadline date. If the application fails to meet the deadline, it will be put forward to the next round of the scheme.

Applications should be sent as an attachment to

Assessment process

The applications will be assessed by a panel appointed by the Kent GCRF Advisory Board.  It will comprise the Associate Deans for Research, the Dean of the Graduate School, the Dean for Internationalisation, and members of Research Services.

  • The academic members will assess the quality and viability of the partnership;
  • Research Services will assess compliance with ODA and GCRF funding rules.

Applications will be ranked using the assessment criteria below, using this table (Excel). This will be regardless of the amount requested. Those that have been most highly ranked will be funded, up to the limit for that round of the scheme. If the round is underspent, the funding will be carried forward to subsequent rounds.

Unsuccessful applicants can re-submit, but only once for the same project.

The assessment process is intended to be light touch and quick. Applicants will be informed of the outcome within two weeks of the deadline.

Early and mid career researchers

Following the initial call for applications, the assessment panel has decided to ring fence at least one award per round for early or mid-career researchers. This is intended to ensure that colleagues at an earlier stage of their career have the opportunity to develop their research and collaborations, and aren’t disadvantaged by having a shorter track record.

Assessment criteria

The panel will use the following criteria:

  1. ODA Compliance
  2. Eligibility of the applicant
  3. Fit with the aims of the GCRF, namely:
    1. To 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;
    2. To strengthen capacity for research, innovation and knowledge exchange in the UK and developing countries through partnership with excellent UK research and researchers;
    3. To provide an agile response to emergencies where there is an urgent research need.
  4. Fit with the three specified challenges of the GCRF, namely:
    1. Equitable access to sustainable development
    2. Sustainable economies and societies
    3. Human rights, good governance and social justice
  5. Alignment with UN Sustainable Development Goals appropriate for the ODA nations involved.
  6. Track record of the applicant and partners, including but not limited to:
    1. Evidence of an existing or potential relationship between the partners
    2. Evidence of previous successful multi-partner research projects, funded or otherwise. Particular attention will be given to those that included partners beyond the UK.
  7. Link to the Kent Global Challenge Doctoral Centre (GCDC).
  8. Plausibility of the partnership continuing after the funding.
  9. Value for money.

Where possible, feedback will be given to unsuccessful applicants.

Award of the grant

The grant will be given in the form of a budgetary adjustment to the applicant’s school. This means that it will be a specified item on the school’s budget, and it will be up to the individual school to manage it. The funding must be spent by the end of the University’s financial year (31 July 2019).

Reporting on the project

The applicant will be asked to provide a short report on the project using this form (Word). 

Previous winners

Previous winners of partnership funding are listed here.

Further information

For specific questions contact the Global Challenges Officer (or, prior to their appointment, a nominated member of RS) on More information on the GCRF is available here. 

Photo by Thijs Degenkamp on Unsplash