The Global Challenges Research Fund

The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) is a £1.5 billion fund announced by the UK Government in 2016 to address complex global development challenges and support collaborative research that will improve the economic prosperity, welfare and quality of life of people in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMIC). The Fund tackles a wide range of the issues highlighted in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals from inequality, conflict and violence to promoting respect for human rights, inclusive development, social justice and well-being for people and communities across the developing world. The establishment of the Fund recognises the need for holistic approaches, drawing on strengths across the research base - including the arts and humanities - to address development challenges such as poverty reduction, improving global public health, enhancing resilience to natural and man-made disasters, displaced populations, rapid urbanisation and inclusive education. Collaboration and partnership with overseas researchers, governments, NGOs and other organisations is a core part of the GCRF and to ensuring that the research supported engages fully with relevant cultural and historic contexts, knowledge bases, creativity, languages, diverse voices and beliefs in LMICs.

An allocation of £26 million from GCRF for the next four years is allowing us develop opportunities for the Arts and Humanities research community. To date, AHRC has made over 100 awards through distinct GCRF funding schemes, our existing funding schemes and through schemes led by other Research Councils such as Resilience (led by NERC) and Forced Displacement (led by ESRC). See here for further details and a list of funding opportunities. In addition, together with the other delivery partners of GCRF, we are exploring new opportunities for transformative cross-disciplinary approaches. You can also find out more about GCRF on the UK Research and Innovation website.


  1. Rising from the Depths Network - Innovation projects funding call round two - call deadline: 15 February 2019
  2. Nahrein Network- Visiting Scholars Programme - call deadline: 15 February 2019
  3. Mobilising Global Voices 2019: Perspectives from the Global South Conference - 27-28 February 2019
  4. UKRI GCRF Health and Context - call deadline 2 April 2019
  5. GCRF Network Plus call - Pre-announcement (dates TBC)

Network Plus

A group of international academic networks, led by UK-based universities, has been set up to conduct collaborative arts and humanities-based research into some of the world’s most pressing development challenges.

The five major interdisciplinary networks will be funded with more than £9 million from the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), using the AHRC’s ‘Network Plus’ model. This is designed to bring together a wide range of UK arts and humanities research expertise with scholars and non-academic partners in low- and middle-income countries. Find out more on our Network Plus page.

Overarching Themes

The AHRC is developing its strategy and approach for engaging with the Global Challenges Research Fund. We have identified some initial overarching themes (PDF, 257KB) where we think the arts and humanities can make strong contributions to global challenges. These are indicative, not exhaustive. 

GCRF Strategic Advisory Board

A GCRF Strategic Advisory Group was created to support the development of the Government’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) with representation across all disciplines and relevant sectors. The main tasks for the Strategic Advisory Group are to develop a common strategic approach between the Fund’s delivery partners, helping them to work together to inform the strategic research priorities that optimise the use of the fund and ensure that it addresses the problems faced by developing countries. It will also advise on the effectiveness of processes and mechanisms for delivering the fund. More information on the Strategic Advisory Group is available here. An AHRC GCRF Strategic Advisory was also established in 2016.

Interactive map of AHRC’s Global Challenges Research Fund Awards

The interactive map below allows you to browse the AHRC’s awards by the country or countries of focus. For more detailed information of a specific award on Gateway to Research, choose a country and click on the grant reference number in the list below the map.

See more international case studies on our case studies page.