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, innovation and knowledge exchange in the UK and developing countries
  • provide an agile response to emergencies where there is an urgent research need

The GCRF was launched in 2016 and has the budget allocation for five years until 2021.

The GCRF funds are allocated through 17 delivery partners including UKRI/Research Councils, UK Academies, Scottish Funding Council and their equivalents in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Applying for GCRF Funding ?

The GCRF is part of the UK government’s pledge to allocate 0.7% of Gross National Income to Official Development Assistance (ODA) which is commonly known as Overseas Aid. The GCRF allocation is monitored by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Therefore, GCRF activities should demonstrate that their focus is to promote the welfare and economic development of developing countries i.e. countries listed by OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC list).

Please see the DAC listed countries (pdf) supported by GCRF.

If you are planning to apply for GCRF funding, please note your proposal must comply with these ODA requirements:

  1. The proposal should benefit the DAC list of country/countries.
  2. The proposal should directly and primarily relevant to the development challenges of DAC country/countries.
  3. The outcomes of your proposed activities should promote the economic development and/or welfare of the country/countries proposed.

If your project does not meet the above requirements, it is not eligible for GCRF funding.

Further information about ODA compliance can be found in UKRI website.

The GCRF funding span across different disciplines including medical sciences, biological sciences, environment sciences and social sciences.

The GCRF-funded initiatives are expected to address the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Therefore, the proposed GCRF initiatives should relate to SDG(s). 

As a part of the funding requirements, the applications to major funders including UKRI are required to provide the statements on gender equality and safeguarding.

The GCRF Calls will be opened at different times according to each delivery partner. For further information and update on funding Calls, please visit the Delivery Partner and GCRF websites.

If you would like to discuss your ideas in the context of GCRF Calls, please get in touch with the Grants Academy.

ODA Compliance

Is Your Research Project ODA-compliant?

Some research funding opportunities are classified as Official Development Assistance (ODA; commonly known as UK government’s overseas aid). These include, but are not limited to, GCRF, Newton Fund and Research Councils-DFID funded programmes.

What is ODA?

ODA is defined as “flows to countries and territories which are on the DAC’s list of ODA recipients”, provided by official agencies for the promotion of economic development and welfare of the developing countries. The ODA-funded activity, therefore, should demonstrate how they aim to contribute to reduce poverty and increase sustainable development in the developing countries (DAC list). All the funding calls classified as ODA will be assessed based on their ODA eligibility.

In order to decide whether your proposed activity is ODA eligible or not, it is important to focus on the questions which would typically be asked for by the OECD. Questions you may wish to consider when writing your proposal regarding ODA eligibility include:

  1. Is the project addressing the economic development and welfare of an ODA eligible country?
  2. Is there a development need that my project or activity is addressing?
  3. Are the countries involved on the DAC List of ODA Recipients (the Development Assistant Committee of the OECD) or will countries on the DAC list directly benefit from the research?
  4. Is my activity credible or is there evidence of the need?
  5. Would this project or activity be applied in an ODA eligible country – when, how and with whom?
  6. What would the impact of my project or activity be, and who would benefit?
  7. How does my project or activity contribute to sustainable development?
  8. What would success for this activity look like?
  9. How would success or impact be measured?

Find out more about ODA,

Unsure or any queries about ODA eligibility? Please contact the Grants Academy for information and guidance.

Open Calls

Summary of Open GCRF Calls (updated 1 February 2021) 








UKRI GCRF Collective Programme

The UKRI GCRF Collective Programme is a series of calls designed to enhance the overall impact across the six strategic GCRF Challenge portfolios. Applicants from all relevant disciplines are encouraged to apply for each call and proposals should be challenge-led and interdisciplinary in nature notwithstanding which Research Council is leading.

Agile Response to address COVID-19


No current deadline

Health Systems Research Initiative (HSRI) Call 8 Research Grant



 Outline Proposal: 19 January 2021

Invited Full Proposal: 16 June 2021

Arts and humanities urgency grants


31 January 2021

Research Collaborations in South East Asia


10 February 2021

Global Partnerships Seedcorn  Fund 2021


30 March 2021


British Council, National Academies

Travel and Subsistence Funding to Support LMIC Engagement During the COVID-19 Outbreak



Rolling – applications ideally to be submitted 2 weeks before travel

Expression of interest: ATI Programme strategic batch: Feb 2021

Innovate UK


17 February 2021

LMIC/ODA compliant but not GCRF/Newton

Global Health Research Partnership


NIHR/Wellcome Trust

Check call guidance for each scheme to see proposal deadlines

Health Systems Research Initiative (HSRI) foundation grant




26 May 2021

GCRF Governance

Global Challenges at Aberdeen

Aberdeen has a remarkable history of working with a range of national and international partners and stakeholders to address the key global challenges. Our strengths and the strategic focus on multidisciplinarity and collaboration place us in very good position to address some of the key challenges that the world is facing today.

Researchers from across 12 different Schools, from Arts and Social Sciences to Medical Sciences participate in the global challenges research and development.

Aberdeen researchers working on global challenges and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are being supported in the following ways:

  • Developing strategic research agenda and prioritisation of challenge topics;
  • Supporting interdisciplinary collaborations;
  • Facilitating dialogues and the collaborations with partners and end-users in the developing world;
  • Promoting interactions between Aberdeen Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) researchers and the funders;
  • Facilitating the evolution of cross-disciplinary research ideas on global challenges/SDGs leading to the successful submission of funding bids;
  • Supporting the delivery and reporting of the successful GCRF projects



The Aberdeen GCRF activities are advised and supported by the Strategic Advisory Group, University GCRF champion and the interest group.


GCRF Strategic Advisory Group

The Strategic Advisory Group chaired by Vice-Principal (Research), or nominee advise on the strategic development and delivery of GCRF activities. This group will ensure that the University maximises the opportunities and its visibility in the context of GCRF. 



  • Marion Campbell, Vice-Principal (Research)
  • Dean for Interdisciplinary Research 
  • Elizabeth Rattray, Director, Research and Innovation
  • Theme champions


University GCRF Champion


GCRF Interest group

The Interest Group Champions promote GCRF discussions among researchers and support alignment of our GCRF activities. The feedback from the interest group will be shared with Advisory Group for consideration and recommendations. 


The GCRF Research Development Officer,within the Grants Academy provides support to the Advisory and Interest Group Champions and the academic community across the Schools with regard to GCRF initiatives.


Further Information

GCRF Internal Pump Priming Fund

The Aberdeen Grants Academy offers the Internal Pump Priming Fund (IPPF) to help position the University of Aberdeen to leverage funding in the context of Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). Up to a maximum value of £10,000 per project (GCRF-IPPF) can be used to support partnership and network development activities to capture pilot ideas to underpin larger, subsequent, application for external funding.

Learn more