Funding for international research and collaboration opportunities

There is a range of funding sources for international collaboration. Some of the key sources of external funding are highlighted below. Please also see our global partners section for funding opportunities relating to specific partnerships. 

Grand Challenges Research Fund (GCRF)

The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) is a £1.5 billion fund announced by the UK Government to support cutting-edge research that addresses the challenges 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 

GCRF is administered through delivery partners including the Research Councils and national academies. For more information, including a list of open calls visit the UKRI Funding website.

Please note that applications to the GCRF are coordinated by Research Innovation Services (RIS). 

Newton Fund

The Newton Fund uses science and innovation partnerships to promote the economic development and social welfare of partner countries. It does so by working with 15 UK delivery partners. 

The Newton Fund was launched in 2014 and now has a total UK investment of £735 million to 2021, with partner countries providing matched funding resources. 

For the latest news and information on current calls, please visit the Newton Fund website.

Universities UK International also provide a helpful overview of the opportunities provided by Newton Funding.

Strategic Partnerships for Higher Education Innovation and Reform (SPHEIR)

Strategic Partnerships for Higher Education Innovation and Reform (SPHEIR) is a new programme set up to support up to 12 innovative partnerships which support systemic change in higher education systems in low-income countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

It was established as a result of Universities UK International's participation in the Department for International Development's (DFID) Higher Education Taskforce.

For more information please visit the UUKi website.

UK India and Education Research Initiative (UKIERI)

UKIERI is co-funded by both the Indian and UK Governments. The initiative began in 2006 and began its third five-year phase in 2016. It is designed to support collaborative activity between the UK and India. There are three strands to this phase of the initiative:

  • Leadership and faculty development;
  • E-partnership and research incubation
  • Integration of skills in education.

For more information please visit UKIERI website.

UK Research Councils 

The UK Research Councils run a number of schemes to support activities that foster international collaboration. 

European Commission

The European Commission, through the Marie Curie International Research Staff Exchange Scheme, helps research organisations to set up or strengthen long term cooperation, through a coordinated exchange programme for their staff.

British Academy 

The British Academy offers funding opportunities for UK scholars and partners overseas to engage in international collaborative research in the humanities and social sciences. The Academy also offers support for UK scholars seeking to undertake a period of research abroad and for early career scholars from other countries seeking to undertake research in the UK.

British Council

The British Council runs a number of schemes that support UK Higher Education Institution in the establishment of international partnerships. The UK India Education and Research Initiative, for example, has a focus on innovation and new areas of development.

Leverhulme Trust

The Leverhulme Trust has four international travel schemes – study abroad fellowships, study abroad studentships, research fellowships and international networks.  The international network scheme, for example, enables a Principal Investigator based in the UK to lead a research project where its successful completion is dependent on the participation of relevant overseas institutions.

Funding databases

  • The Euraxess UK website, hosted by the British Council, enables researchers to search for international funding opportunities, including travel to conferences, short research visits and fellowships.
  • Information on international funding opportunities is contained in Research Professional, the electronic news and research alerts service provided by Research Fortnight.