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Global Challenges Initiative

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

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The Global Challenges Initiative (GCI) is a Strategic Research Initiative of the University of Cambridge that aims to fulfil its mission to contribute to society with a particular focus on the poorer half of the world’s population.

GCI was co-founded by University of Cambridge researchers and by the Centre for Global Equality (CGE). The partnership with CGE facilitates access to relevant civil society practitioners in the developing world, and mechanisms for the R&D and diffusion processes often required to ensure that research achieves the intended impact, but that are beyond the academic remit.

We support researchers working on global challenges and the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the following ways:

  • Facilitate the evolution of cross-disciplinary research agendas on the SDGs leading to the successful submission of substantial funding bids;
  • Enable early career researchers to contribute significantly to the formulation and implementation of challenge-led research on the SDGs;
  • Create structures and mechanisms to assist individual academic groups to achieve their research objectives with developing world partners in the public and private sectors;
  • Facilitate dialogue and co-creation with end-users in the developing world;
  • Support interdisciplinary collaboration between science, technology and medical researchers and those in the arts, humanities and social sciences;
  • Develop protocols for ‘impact chains’ connecting research design to implementation.

The Global Challenges Initiative actively supports SDG- and global challenge-related activities undertaken by partner initiatives across the University. Presently we are collaborating with the Synthetic Biology SRI on rapid diagnostics and frugal biotechnology in Africa, with Cambridge Global Food Security on enhancing sustainable food supplies in India, and with ideaSpace’s innovationLabs on Infrastructure for Fair Global Societies. We are planning future collaborations with PublicHealth@Cambridge, the Digital Humanities Network, Energy@Cambridge, the Centre for Science and Policy (CSaP), Cambridge Africa and the Nano Doctoral Training Centre.

The Global Challenges Initiative is led by an Executive Committee and Advisory Group of University of Cambridge academics, supported by the Centre for Global Equality, a Cambridge-based civil society organisation that shares the Initiative’s vision.


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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