Skip to main content

GCRF and Newton – University of Reading

Show access keys
  • GCRF and Newton

GCRF and Newton

What are GCRF and Newton Fund?



The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) is a £1.5Bn fund by the UK government to support cutting-edge research that addresses the challenges faced by developing countries. It runs from 2016/17 to 2020/21 and is a key component in the delivery of the UK Aid Strategy: tackling global challenges in the national interest. The fund aims to ensure that UK research takes a leading role in addressing the problems faced by developing countries through:

  • challenge-led disciplinary and interdisciplinary research
  • strengthening capacity for research and innovation within both the UK and developing countries
  • providing an agile response to emergencies where there is an urgent research need.

The Global Challenges Research Fund is an initiative led by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) which operates across a number of delivery partners, including the UK Research Councils, UK Higher Education Funding bodies, the Academy of Medical Sciences, Royal Society, British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering and UK Space Agency. Whilst funding schemes are associated with lead funders, it should be noted that the majority of schemes are supported by multiple funders. Researchers will not be precluded from involvement in a given scheme if their work falls outside the usual remit of the lead funder. Indeed, multi- and interdisciplinary approaches will generally be encouraged for GCRF schemes.

GCRF forms part of the UK's Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment, which is monitored by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). ODA-funded activity focuses on outcomes that promote the long-term sustainable growth of countries on the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) list. GCRF funding will be awarded in a manner that fits with Official ODA Guidelines.

Newton Fund

The Newton Fund aims to develop research and innovation partnerships that will promote economic development and social welfare in collaborating countries. Originally launched in 2014 as five-year programme, the fund has since been extended and expanded to run until at least 2021. By this time the UK Government will have invested £735 million. In addition to this sum, matched funding is provided by partner countries, of which there are currently 16. These collaborating countries are all on the OECD DAC List and all funded activities must demonstrate that they are compliant with Official ODA Guidelines.

The Newton Fund is managed by BEIS and administered by 15 UK delivery partners including the Research Councils and a number of National Academies.

Awards from the fund are made in three broad areas:

1) People: building capacity in science and innovation in partner countries, through student and researcher fellowships, mobility schemes and joint centres

2) Research: research collaborations on development topics

3) Translation: innovation partnerships and challenge funds to develop innovative solutions on development topics

Individual calls are developed in a collaborative way between the relevant UK delivery partner and a funder from one of the partner countries, with call topics being chosen in order to best meet local development priorities. It is intended that Newton Fund activities will support development activities in a sustainable way, leveraging other funding where appropriate and generating lasting benefit for communities in partner countries.

All activities funded through the Newton Fund must be able to demonstrate the following:

  • Eligibility for official development assistance (ODA)
  • That they utilise an open and transparent process
  • That the project addresses a strong need and has a clear benefit in-country
  • That the activity would not take place without the Newton Fund
  • Scientific excellence and value for money
  • Matched funding and/or matched effort from the partnering country

It should be noted that, in a majority of cases, arrangements for matched funding will have already been established between partner funding organisations, so typically this will not need to be sought by prospective applicants.

For more information see here.


GCRF vs Newton Fund

Though similar in size and scope, the Newton Fund and the GCRF are two separate, distinct funding schemes.

Similarities between the GCRF and Newton Fund

The Newton Fund and the GCRF are both funded by HM Treasury, and administered by BEIS. Both are large-scale, multi-year schemes (each running until at least 2021). They each form part of the UK's commitment to providing Official Development Assistance, which means that it is particularly important for applicants to consider the potential for research to generate impact. Both schemes are also intended to strengthen the UK's capacity to deliver world-class research.

Differences between the GCRF and the Newton Fund

Both funding schemes are intended to promote the sustainable development of DAC ODA eligible recipients. However, whereas GCRF schemes will not normally have specific country requirements, Newton Fund opportunities usually specify a particular country, or countries, that should be able to derive some benefit from a given project. Newton Fund schemes will generally include a commitment to matched funding from partner countries, and awards to UK applicants are administered by a sole UK delivery partner. This is in contrast to the GCRF, whose schemes are predominantly delivered by a range of funders who will encourage a more multi- and inter-disciplinary approach to research activities.

For more information please see here.


We use Javascript to improve your experience on, but it looks like yours is turned off. Everything will still work, but it is even more beautiful with Javascript in action. Find out more about why and how to turn it back on here.
We also use cookies to improve your time on the site, for more information please see our cookie policy.

Back to top