skip to content

International Development Research @ Cambridge


The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has announced a new call under the mandate of the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). This call, New Models of Sustainable Development, aims to fund new interdisciplinary and innovative research which examines how new models of economic development (broadly defined) can help address the development challenges reflected in the UN's Agenda 2030


The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) is a £1.5 billion funding stream to support cutting-edge research which addresses the problems faced by developing countries. GCRF forms part of the UK's Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment, and funding under this call will be awarded in a manner consistent with official ODA guidelines (OECD website).

The ESRC is looking for ambitious projects, investigating new avenues for research that directly engages with the new development agenda. Partnerships, whether with academics, policymakers or stakeholders, are encouraged. 

Research proposals should fall within the following broad themes:

  • Transitions towards sustainable and inclusive societies

For all developing countries, there is a need to manage advances in wellbeing, equity and economic growth alongside the challenges of climate change, biodiversity and cleaner energy and air. Are there models or approaches to economic development that offer new insights into supporting sustainable, equitable growth? What potential do alternative models of production and distribution offer, and how can innovation best be encouraged and supported through appropriate institutional, legal and regulatory frameworks? 

  • Decent work for all

Goal 8 of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals cites 'decent work for all' as an integral part of the challenge of sustainable growth. The aim of Goal 8 is to ensure not only that sufficient employment is created, but also that work is productive, fairly remunerated and meets minimum standards in terms of security and prospects for personal development. Creating the conditions to achieve this raises fundamental challenges in terms of raising investment, productivity and competitiveness in lower income countries. This, in turn, relates to issues such as training and education, labour market regulation, and the capacity of the state to encourage and support enterprise, investment and innovation on the one hand whilst ensuring appropriate employment standards and social security support on the other. 

Further information on the themes can be found within the call specification.

Proposals must be led by a researcher at an eligible UK research organisation and should be submitted through the research councils' Joint Electronic Submission system (Je-S)In addition to this, potential applicants may wish to note that the ESRC is planning to announce another GCRF call focused on education and skills in January 2018. Proposals focusing primarily or solely on this area, rather than its links with productivity and labour markets, may be better suited to this call. 

This ESRC opportunity offers research grants of between £500,000 and £800,000 for projects lasting between 18 to 30 months.

The grant timeline is as follows:

  • Deadline for submitting full proposals - 16:00 on 11 January 2018
  • Panel meeting - 3 May 2018
  • Decisions to applicants - late May 2018
  • Start date for successful proposals - 1 September 2018


For more information on this funding opportunity, and how to apply, please see the source page here.

Welcome to Cambridge Global Challenges

Cambridge Global Challenges is the Strategic Research Initiative of the University of Cambridge that aims to enhance the contribution of its research towards addressing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, with a particular focus on the poorest half of the world’s population.


Join the Strategic Research Initiative

Register to Cambridge Global Challenges here.


Learn about the support we provide 

Information on how Cambridge Global Challenges can support your research is shared here.


Contact us

Programme Manager (Sara Serradas Duarte):​