MMU Research and Knowledge Exchange Blog

Funding opportunities, news and guidance from RKE at Manchester Met

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ESRC-DFID Development Frontiers Research Fund call open

A new funding opportunity is being launched as part of a decade-long partnership between the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Department for International Development (DFID) which aims to place innovation and appetite for risk at the centre of world-class research.

Sitting within the ESRC-DFID Joint Fund for Poverty Alleviation Research, the Development Frontiers Research Fund aims to fund innovative, strategic and catalytic research with the potential to radically impact on sustainable development concepts or practices, or lead to new thinking and action on poverty reduction.

Proposals are invited for projects with a full economic cost (fEC) value between£200,000 and £300,000. Projects can be between 12 and 18 months long, but must finish no later than 31 March 2019. They expect to fund around 14-18 awards, depending on the quality of the proposals received.

This call has been designed to enable researchers to conduct exploratory, small-scale projects with a view to developing ideas, collaboration, and research capacity for future larger grants for other calls, whether to ESRC or DFID or other funders. This second call within the Development Frontiers Research Fund will support innovative, interdisciplinary research that is focused on new ways to tackle the challenges encountered at the intersections between poverty, environmental sustainability and conflict/fragility in specific developing country contexts

West Africa:Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Saint Helena, Senegal, Sao Tome, and Principe Togo

Horn of Africa: Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan

South/Southeast Asia: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines ,Timor Leste

This call is open to proposals from researchers based anywhere in the world. A requirement of this call is that at least one developing country researcher and at least one early career researcher must be included in the research team, either as principal investigator or co-investigator

NOTE: Eligible research organisations from the UK and other developed countries can lead on a maximum of up to two proposals to this call so, if you are interested, please get in touch with your Research Development Manager a.s.a.p.



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Improving Communication of Research for DFID


The Department for International Development (DFID) is to launch a funding call related to Improving Communication of Research Evidence for development (ICRED).

Having the ability to make evidence-informed policy and practice decisions is vital to support efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. DFID has designed this programme to increase the impact of investments in development research, by supporting improved capacity of researchers and intermediaries in DFID priority countries to access, appraise and communicate evidence and rigorous research. Results of this programme are expected to include enhanced capacity of researchers (e.g. academics) and intermediaries (e.g. the media; civil society organisations) in DFID priority countries to routinely gather, appraise and communicate research evidence to inform the public, and increase the use of rigorous evidence for more effective development policy and practice.

DFID will be seeking proposals for a range of projects that aim to build capacity of researchers and intermediaries to access, appraise and communicate evidence and rigorous research to inform development policy and practice.

The programme will be worth £12m and is expected to become operational during 2015/16, with a further £500,000 for an evaluation stream which will be commissioned following project selection.

This programme will help inform DFID and other development research funders on what types of research uptake capacity building approaches are most cost effective and have the greatest impact. It is anticipated that project contracts will run for 5 years.

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The British Academy and DFID Anti-Corruption Evidence Partnership

British Academy  dfid11

The British Academy and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) have launched a £3.6 million initiative to support leading international research teams to research and identify the most successful ways of addressing corruption in developing countries.

The BA/DFID Anti-Corruption Evidence (ACE) partnership will provide grants to support world-leading multidisciplinary research to explore policies and interventions in different countries that have reduced corruption and helped address its negative impact on people’s lives.

Successful applicants will provide the evidence needed by DFID country offices and other policymakers to make a practical impact in reducing corruption; strengthen the evidence base for best practice in what works in addressing corruption across different contexts; work with others in the programme to highlight interactions and interdependencies between different interventions; and will make the resulting evidence widely accessible in open access format to those seeking to develop and support the most effective anti-corruption policies and programmes.

The programme will fund around eight  projects to the value of £400,000 each. Projects will be funded for two years beginning from 1 January 2016.

To ensure critical mass is best achieved with this programme, this call is for projects which address one or more of a number of specific themes such as (but not limited to)
• Reform of public financial management;
• Procurement reform;
• Tax reform;
• Civil Service reform;
• Audit institutions;
• Community monitoring initiatives;
• Anti-corruption initiatives involving the media;
• Anti-corruption laws, including freedom of information laws, conflict of interest laws, or whistleblower legislation;
• Gender and social exclusion; and
• Anti-corruption conditionalities in aid-allocation decisions

There is a two stage application. The deadline for outline submissions is on 24 June 2015. The outcome of the outline stage is expected to be announced by the end of September 2015. It is anticipated that a number of applicants will then be invited to submit a more detailed second-stage proposal, which is expected to be open to invited submission only during late September and October 2015.

Please see:

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ESRC & DFID pre-call announcement upcoming call on Education in developing countries


ESRC and DFID are pleased to announce that they will be inviting applications to a second call under the Raising Learning Outcomes in Education Systems programme in March 2015.

This £20 million programme is generating world-class cutting-edge social science research that addresses key questions on learning outcomes within education systems in developing countries. The aim is to provide policymakers and practitioners with concrete ideas on how to improve learning, and understanding of how these will translate to their specific contexts and institutions. Funding is being awarded through three annual calls, each with a different but complementary thematic focus.

The 2015 call will focus on the theme of ‘challenging contexts’ – where education systems face particular challenges, what enables or inhibits the raising of learning outcomes. An overview of the thematic focus and scope of call two, and eligibility and application requirements, are set out in the documents below. This pre-call announcement is being made to enable interested researchers to begin discussions with potential research partners and research users in advance of the formal call for proposals.

ESRC and DFID are in the process of finalising the call specification and associated documentation, which will be available when the call for proposals is officially launched in March 2015. The deadline for proposals will be in May 2015.

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ESRC/DFID Education and development: Raising learning outcomes in education systems call 2013-14

ESRC DfidThe Department for International Development (DFID) and ESRC are continuing their strategic partnership with a dedicated research programme on ‘Education and development: Raising learning outcomes in education systems’. Both funders are committed to commissioning world class research and ensuring the results are available for policymakers and development workers worldwide.


The programme will generate world-class and cutting-edge policy-relevant research that addresses key questions on learning outcomes within education systems in developing countries ( a list of relevant countries is provided). The ultimate aim is to provide policymakers and practitioners with concrete ideas on how to improve learning and understanding of how these will translate to their specific contexts and institutions, enabling more effective policies and interventions.


In total £20 million has been allocated to the programme, which will be awarded through three annual research calls. Each call will have a core thematic focus, but opportunities will also be provided for other innovative research on learning outcomes and education quality, as well as larger-scale work addressing the lack of high quality data in education and development research. Proposals are sought from across the social sciences and may be for fundamental or more applied research topics, as long as the policy relevance is clearly articulated. There are no geographic restrictions on who may apply for this funding opportunity: researchers from developing and developed countries can work together in any configuration of their choosing, and principal investigators can be from anywhere in the world.


The 2013-2014 call is focused on the theme ‘effective teaching’. A total of up to £5 million is being made available for full proposals to three different types and scale of grant within this call:


Small grants/pilot projects


  • up to £150,000 at full Economic Cost (fEC)
  • one year duration
  • may or may not address the call theme of effective teaching.


Medium grants:


  • between £200,000 and £500,000 fEC
  • two-three years duration
  • must address the call theme of effective teaching.


Large grants:


  • up to £1,000,000 fEC
  • up to five years duration
  • must address the call theme of effective teaching but, given their scale, will normally be expected to include analysis of other system dynamics that influence teaching practices and learning outcomes
  • will produce a major new dataset and/or access to previously inaccessible developing country administrative data for secondary analysis.


The deadline for applications is 16.00 (UK time), 25 March 2014.

The full specification and other relevant documents can be found here: