The Department for International Development and Foreign Commonwealth Office lead the United Kingdom’s work to end extreme poverty and tackle the global challenges of our time including poverty and disease, mass migration, insecurity and conflict. The UK has committed 0.7% of Gross National Income to International Development Aid, also known as Official Development Assistance (ODA), amounting to approximately £12 billion per year. In recent years there have been a number of new measures for cross governmental department allocation of ODA budget to build on the UK Science and Research funding.
Notably in 2014, the Newton Fund was announced and then later expanded leading to a £735m investment to 2021, and more recently we have seen the Global Challenge Research Fund (£1.5b), Prosperity Fund (£1.3b), and Ross Fund (£1b) which incorporates both the Fleming Fund and the Global Antimicrobial Resistance Innovation Fund. This presents a major opportunity and strategic consideration for researchers at Bradford that already have a track record in International Development or looking to move into this area to build a safer, healthier, more prosperous world for people in developing countries and in the UK.
Official Development Assistance
For researchers interested in exploring new opportunities in International Development there are core underpinning concepts to consider. Official Development Assistance (ODA) is the aid funding that has direct and primary relevance to the problems of low and middle income countries. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) updates the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) list of eligible ODA recipients every 3 years. In an application you might be asked to write an ODA Statement which confirms the project is ODA compliant.
UN Sustainable Development Goals
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are 17 ambitious global goals that build on the Millennium Development Goals, with 169 targets covering a broad range of sustainable development issues to eradicate by 2030. These include ending poverty and hunger, improving health and education, sustainable cities and communities, and affordable and clean energy. The UN SDG website (www) is a useful resource for planning projects, including targets, evidence, evaluation indicators, and current progress towards the goal. You may want to consider how your proposed international development research addresses goals within, across and between SDGs.
GCRF Feedback from First Calls
ARMA recently held a GCRF workshop that discussed feedback from the first GCRF applications and experience from a panel reviewer. Points to consider when considering the research idea and application:
- Research must truly impact the poorest and most vulnerable. Consider ‘pull’ by identifying evidenced needs through resources, such as the Newton in-country funder priorities and UN SDG targets, and discussion directly with people who the work will impact. ODA funding must have direct and primary relevance to the problems of low and middle income countries.
- Consider and present current and previous work in the field and investigate which NGOs are already on the ground working in the area. Engagement with these NGOs can provide the frontline on the ground for both evidence gathering and implementation.
- Investigators should discuss the sustainability and legacy after the program ends. For example, if there is a need for changes in Government Policy is there engagement in the project at this level. The team must provide evidence to support scalable and sustainable impact.
- The team must incorporate monitoring and evaluation from the start and provide an Evaluation Plan. UN Sustainable Development Goals Indicators may help with consideration of the plan.
- Project should have clear Governance Structures and Roles & Responsibility. Research should be well balanced between the partner countries and the UK. A useful resource to consider is “A Guide For Transboundary Research Partnerships” written by the Swiss Commission for Research Partnerships with Developing countries (KFPE) 2nd edition 2014
A further useful resource is “7 principles for strengthening research capacity in LMICs: simple ideas in a complex world” ESSENCE 2014
Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF)
GCRF is a £1.5 billion fund (2016-2021) announced by the UK Government as part of the UK official development assistance (ODA) strategy to support cutting-edge research that addresses challenges such as in strengthening resilience and response to crises; promoting global prosperity; and tackling extreme poverty and helping the world’s most vulnerable. Specifically, the GCRF will increase research capacity in the UK and in partner countries and deliver excellent research and impact outcomes to intractable development issues that promote the long-term sustainable growth of countries on the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) list. The emphasis on partnership building and interdisciplinary projects that underpins the GCRF signals an ambition and an intention to achieve a positive transformational impact on sustainable global development. The GCRF will contribute to realising the ambitions of the UK aid strategy and to making progress on the global effort to address the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The allocated science budget of GCRF for 17/18 is £215m and in further years will continue to increase to £492m (20/21). The primary delivery partners will be Research Councils and The National Academies who will support a collection of programmes. The UK strategy for GCRF was published in June 2017.
The Newton Fund is a UK Government initiative intended to strengthen research and innovation partnerships between the UK and emerging knowledge economies. The Newton Fund was launched in 2014 and originally consisted of £75 million each year. In the 2015 UK Spending Review it was agreed to extend and expand the fund to 2021 and double the £75 million investment to £150 million by 2021. The Newton Fund forms part of the UKs Official Development Assistance (ODA) but unlike the GCRF requires partner countries to provide matched resources within the Fund; there are currently 16 partner countries including China, India, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Egypt, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, South Africa, Thailand Turkey, and Vietnam. Investigators can use the Newton Fund website ‘partnering countries’ section to learn about in-country priority areas and underpinning capabilities that have been set by the funding partners.
The Ross Fund
The Ross Fund will develop, test and produce new products - including diagnostics - to help combat the world’s most serious diseases in developing countries. Named after Sir Ronald Ross, the first ever British Nobel Laureate, recognised for his discovery that mosquitoes transmit malaria, the £1 billion Ross Fund was announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in November 2015 and will run until 2021. In the funding period approximately £480m will be used for research managed by the Department of Health under ‘Global Health Security’. The Government has created the Ross Fund for research and development into products for infectious diseases and to strengthen delivery of new products, bringing together Government investment into: Anti-microbial resistance (AMR); Infectious Diseases with epidemic potential, such as Ebola, that can rapidly spread if not stopped early; and Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) that affect over a billion people worldwide. AMR includes; £115 million to develop new drugs, diagnostics and insecticides for diseases of emerging resistance including malaria and TB; Investing £265m in the Fleming Fund to strengthen surveillance of drug resistance and laboratory capacity in developing countries; Delivering the new Global AMR Innovation Fund, launched with China for research and innovation to tackle AMR.
DH Global Health Research (GHR) Fund
The Department of Health Global Health Research (GHR) Fund is an additional £429.5m for Science, Research, and Evidence. This is a flexible fund using the NIHR as delivery partner to administer calls. The three focused areas are Infrastructure (funding Research Units and Groups), Programmes (Funding Partnerships), and for Training (Capacity Building). The First Infrastructure call contracted 13 Research Units and 20 Research Groups totalling £122.5m, and a second round anticipates another 20 Research Groups (£40m). The areas covered by the Units and Groups include underserved areas of research, and groups who have an established track record but would like to move into International Development. This included Mental Health, Neurological Trauma including post-war and conflict, Social Policy and Health Inequalities, Econometrics and Economics, Childhood Development, Injuries and Accidents including Burns, Surgical, Respiratory, Stroke Care, Infection, Cardiovascular, and Metabolic.
In order to help promote economic growth in developing countries the government has created a new Prosperity Fund worth £1.3 billion over the next 5 years. Although increasing numbers of developing countries are able to finance their own development, many still face considerable challenges such as rapid urbanisation, climate change and high and persistent inequality which can lower long-term growth prospects, including those in middle income countries where more than 70% of the world’s poor live. The Prosperity Fund supports the broad-based and inclusive growth needed for poverty reduction to make development sustainable. The Primary Purpose of the Prosperity Fund is to promote the reform and development that is needed for economic growth in partner developing countries. The Secondary benefit of the Prosperity Fund is the strengthening of commercial opportunities for international businesses and institutions, including those from the UK.