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Global Challenges Initiative

The Cambridge Strategic Research Initiative for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

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Open Calls

Horizon 2020: European Union funding for research into global and EU challenges (various deadlines)

The Horizon 2020 research and innovation funding programme is targeted at addressing both global and EU challenges. It includes four focus areas, intended to collect different funding calls together to address big-ticket challenges. These focus areas are: building a low-carbon, climate-resilient future, connecting economic and environmental gains (circular economy), digitising and transforming European industry and services, and boosting the effectiveness of the Security Union.

UK Royal Society – Newton Advanced Fellowships 2018

This scheme provides established international researchers with an opportunity to develop the research strengths and capabilities of their research group through training, collaboration and reciprocal visits with a partner in the UK. The skills and knowledge gained should lead to changes in the wellbeing of communities and increased economic benefits.

UK Space Agency Space for All Community grant scheme (deadline: 9th February 2017)

This is the second call for projects under the UK Space Agency’s International Partnerships Programme. IPP is a £152M multi-year programme which will use the space sectors space knowledge, expertise and capability to provide a sustainable, economic or societal benefit to undeveloped nations and developing economies.

NERC/ESPRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) (Cambridge internal deadline: 12th February 2018; deadline: 13th March 2018)

This call is for applications to support Centres for Doctoral Training focussed on cohort-based doctoral training in areas where both breadth and depth of research training are required to address UK skills needs at the doctoral level. For 2018, NERC will align its Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) investment with that of the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

WSUP Research around sanitation surcharges included in property taxes in Ghana (deadline: 19th February 2018)

This research project is commissioned under the Urban Sanitation Research Initiative, a 2017-2020 research programme ( core-funded by UK aid from the UK government, and managed by Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) in formal partnership with the Environmental Health & Sanitation Directorate, the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources (EHSD), Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), and the Institute of Local Government Studies (ILGS).

RGS Environment and Sustainability Research Grants (deadline: 22nd February 2018)

The Royal Geographical Society (RGS), through their Environment and Sustainability Research Grants, offer four annual awards to researchers within 10 years of completing their PhD for projects that investigate some of the bigger issues of environmental sustainability.

The Borysiewicz Biomedical Sciences Fellowship Programme (deadline: 26th February 2018)

The Borysiewicz Biomedical Sciences Fellowships have been developed in honour of Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, a pioneer in the biomedical sciences, who when Vice-Chancellor of the University led and shaped the development of key provisions for Cambridge’s postdoc community. The Fellowships will take outstanding Cambridge postdocs and develop them into motivated, strategic future leaders ready to pursue a range of global questions and problems.

WSUP Identification of indicator criteria for definition of high-quality shared sanitation in urban contexts (deadline: 26th February 2018)

WSUP (Water & Santiation for the Urban Poor) has helped transforming cities to benefit the millions who lack access to water and sanitation since 2005. This research project, commissioned under WSUP’s Urban Sanitation Research Initiative, aims to identify key criteria determining whether a shared toilet in an urban context can be considered of high quality.

MRC/DFID African Research Leader scheme 2018 (deadline: 27th February 2018)

This Medical Research Council (MRC)/Department for International Development (DfID) jointly funded scheme aims to strengthen research leadership across sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) by supporting exceptionally talented individuals who will lead high-quality programmes of research - on key global health issues pertinent to SSA - in local institutions.

Newton International Fellowships - Opportunities in Brazil (deadline: 28th February 2018)

Brazilian State Funding Agencies, articulated by its National Council (CONFAP), are launching a call for proposals offering support to researchers based in UK Universities and Research Institutions, who are willing to work in research institutions in Brazil, in collaboration with local colleagues.

JPT Family Trust Medical Science Award (deadline: 28th February 2018)

The Royal Society for Asian Affairs invites applications for the JPT Family Trust Medical Science Award. This enables medical students to travel to a country or countries in Asia in order to conduct a medical research project in a challenging environment.

Cambridge Humanities Research Grants Scheme 2017-18 (deadline: 1st March 2018)

This funding opportunity supports independent researchers in the arts, humanities and social sciences across the University to conduct small-scale research activities that will enable them to bid for larger-scale funding from external sponsors/ generate publications.

SFN Collaborative Scoping Projects (deadline: 6th March 2018)

A Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Food Network+ (SFN) call for collaborative scoping projects is now open. This call is open to all projects that bring together STFC capabilities and food research and industry.

Nesta Call for Ideas: How to involve the public in developing innovation policy? (deadline: 9th March 2018)

Nesta has launched the Everyone Makes Innovation Policy programme, starting with a call for proposals for new methods of engaging the public in innovation policy

Analysis of citizen and decision-maker attitudes to freshwater pollution in Bangladeshi cities as a basis for more effective regulation (deadline: 13th March 2018)

This research project is jointly commissioned by the REACH global research programme (led by Oxford University) and the Urban Sanitation Research Initiative, (a 2017-2020 research programme led by Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor, WSUP).

ESRC-NIHR dementia research initiative 2018 (deadline: 15th March 2018)

ESRC and the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) are inviting outline proposals to undertake social science research to support innovation in dementia prevention, interventions and care delivery.

NERC Doctoral Training Partnerships 2 (DTP2) (expression of interest deadline: 7th March; proposal deadline: 16th May)

DTPs provide excellent postgraduate research opportunities as well as varied professional and technical skills and personal development training. Training delivered through DTPs can be drawn from any part of the NERC science remit and research topics are chosen by students and supervisors. This training plays a key part in maintaining the breadth and diversity of our research base and in ensuring that as a community we are responsive to new ideas.

ESRC/GCRF Inequalities and skills acquisition in young people (deadline: 22nd March 2018)

Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) is inviting proposals for new innovative research grants focusing on skills acquisition in developing countries.

RCUK Cross-disciplinary mental health network plus call (deadline: 22nd March 2018)

The research councils have announced a cross-disciplinary mental health network plus call with the aim to encourage the creation of multi-disciplinary networks that cross the remit boundaries of the research councils.

Wellcome Trust Master's Fellowships in Public Health and Tropical Medicine (deadline: 26th March 2018)

This scheme provides junior researchers from low- and middle-income countries with the opportunity to gain research experience and training at Master's degree level. The scheme aims to support research that will improve public health and tropical medicine at a local, national and global level.

Bayer Grants4Targets (deadline: 31st March 2018)

Bayer is searching for ideas and innovation on novel molecular targets to develop new approaches and solutions improving both human health and modern crop protection to grow and sustain our livelihood.

Hamied Foundation UK-India AMR Visiting Professorships (deadline: 6th April 2018)

The Academy of Medical Sciences is one of the UK national academies, whose mission is to promote medical research and its translation into benefits for society. These awards support short visits that seek to facilitate collaboration between the most talented researchers in the field of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the UK and India.

The Geneva Challenge 2018 (registration deadline: 16th April 2018; submission deadline: 20th August 2018)

The 2018 edition of the Geneva Challenge is a project funded by Swiss Ambassador Jenö Staehelin and is supported by Kofi Annan, the high-patron of the contest. The Geneva Challenge aims to encourage interdisciplinary problem solving analysis among master students on advancing human development within the scope of a relevant topic.

ESRC Climate Change Centres Call (Cambridge internal deadline: 24th April 2018; deadline: 5th June 2018)

This research centre is a major ESRC strategic investment. In addition to taking forward an ambitious research agenda and making significant economic or societal impact, it will add value by increasing research bandwidth, building capacity, encouraging interdisciplinary working in social science and beyond, and enabling research collaboration in the UK and internationally.

China-UK AMR Partnership Hubs 2018 (EoI deadline: 30th April 2018; deadline: 14th June 2018)

The UK cross-council AMR initiative and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) are inviting proposals to the China-UK AMR Partnership Hubs under the umbrella of the Newton Fund. This initiative will provide funding for high quality collaborative research partnerships focused on addressing the growing global burden of antimicrobial resistance, specifically antibacterial resistance in China.

Misk Grand Challenge: Activating Global Citizenship (deadline: 2nd May 2018)

This Misk Grand Challenge is about testing and implementing concepts and strategies to engage young people (younger than 30) in efforts that will reduce inequality related to the first six Sustainable Development Goals.

MRC/ESRC/SAMRC UK-South Africa Joint Initiative on Mental Health (deadline: 2nd May 2018)

The Medical Research Council (MRC), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) are inviting research proposals to the UK-South Africa mental health initiative. This Newton Fund initiative will provide funding for high quality collaborative research projects focused on addressing mental health in South Africa.

MRC/NRF UK-Kenya Joint Partnership on Non-Communicable Diseases (deadline: 9th May 2018)

The Medical Research Council (MRC) and the National Research Foundation (NRF) of Kenya are inviting research proposals to the Newton Fund’s UK-Kenya Joint Partnership on Non-Communicable Diseases. The objective of this initiative is to deliver research funding for internationally competitive and innovative collaborative projects between scientists from Kenya and the UK that will underpin progress towards achieving the objectives laid out in the Kenyan NCD strategy beyond 2020, and to enable the pursuit of shared research interests.

ESRC/CONACYT/Newton Fund call for collaborative research: Smart Cities in Mexico (deadline: 9th May 2018)

The Mexican National Council for Science and Technology (CONACYT) and the UK's Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) invite joint applications for collaborative projects between Mexico and the UK which seek to enhance understanding of Smart Cities. This collaboration is supported by the Newton Fund.

Biomaker Challenge (deadline: 11h May 2018)

Biomaker Challenge is a four-month programme challenging interdisciplinary teams to build low-cost sensors and instruments for biology. From colorimeters to microfluidics and beyond, we’re looking for frugal, open source and DIY approaches to biological experiments. The participation of teams in Africa is being promoted for the first time this year - and the organizers will be happy to help build UK-African connections through the formation of joint or parallel teams.

ESRC Climate Change Network Plus Call (Cambridge internal deadline: 15th May 2018; deadline: 5th June 2018)

ESRC expects the successful network grant to play a strategic role in bringing together relevant participants that cross disciplinary boundaries and stakeholders (particularly those from business and industry). This cross-fertilisation will help address specific climate change questions, as well as establish and maintain appropriate links with existing ESRC and other research council investments.

NERC 2018 Impact Awards (deadline: 21st May 2018)

The awards will celebrate and reward NERC-funded researchers, as individuals or teams, whose work has had substantial impact on the economy and society either in the UK or abroad.

EPSRC Trust and Global Governance Large Grants (Cambridge internal deadline: 25th May 2018; deadline: 28th June)

EPSRC is looking for innovative and methodologically ambitious proposals that link foundational research on the nature and dynamics of trust and trustworthiness, with new empirical research on the relationship between trust and global governance. EPSRC actively encourages proposals characterised by interdisciplinarity both within and beyond the social sciences, and would particularly welcome proposals that include a significant international comparative component.

The Global Challenges Initiative is a Strategic Research Initiative of the University of Cambridge that aims to enhance the contribution of its research towards addressing global challenges and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.


Find out about open funding opportunities, pre-call announcements, responsive calls, studentships and awards relevant to the global challenges agenda.

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