Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF)

The Department for the Economy (DfE) administers funding to NI Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) from the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) to support research that addresses the challenges faced by developing countries.

What is GCRF?

The GCRF is a £1.5 billion fund that forms part of the UK’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment.

The GCRF is administered by a number of delivery partners, including the four UK funding bodies, the Research Councils and the four national academies.

In 2018-19 DfE distributed £723,217 from the GCRF to NI HEIs.

What is the funding for?

The UK’s ODA commitment is monitored by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation (OECD).

HEI GCRF allocations must be spent according to ODA principles which state that only research directly and primarily of benefit to the problems of developing countries may be counted as ODA.

Activity funded through GCRF must promote the economic development and welfare of developing countries as its main objective, any benefit to the UK or other developed countries must be the secondary consideration.

HEI GCRF activity must also comply with ODA guidelines by working with, and supporting development within, countries and territories on the Development Assistance Committee’s (DAC) list of ODA recipients.

HEIs should endeavour to create equitable partnerships between researchers, practitioners and policy-makers in both developed and developing countries through GCRF funded activities.

Funding Method

GCRF is allocated to HEIs in proportion to their UKRI Research Council drawdown over the last three years.  In 2017/18 financial year Queen’s University received £504,227 and University of Ulster received £218,990.

Only HEIs who have provided  GCRF three-year institutional strategies that have been assessed as ODA compliant will receive GCRF allocations for the three years from 2018-19.


To support the government’s requirement to report to the OECD on ODA activity, institutions in receipt of GCRF will be monitored annually. HEIs should be able to account that the GCRF allocation has been spent on eligible activity.



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