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Global Challenges Research Fund: Cities & Infrastructure

Global Challenges Research Fund: Cities & Infrastructure

The British Academy, on behalf of all the National Academies, has launched a new, competitive research funding call, the Cities & Infrastructure Programme, as part of the Global Challenges Research Fund.

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

The call invites proposals from UK-based researchers across all academic disciplines within the social sciences, the humanities, engineering, medical and natural sciences, to develop and lead interdisciplinary, problem-focused research projects that address the challenge of creating and maintaining sustainable and resilient cities in developing countries, recognising the need to interweave mitigation and adaptation. The Cities & Infrastructure Programme will fund research projects geared towards producing the evidence that will inform policies and interventions aimed at improving people’s lives in fragile or conflict-affected states or in developing countries.

Research Focus

Projects must demonstrate an innovative and interdisciplinary approach (two or more disciplines), yielding new conceptual understanding on one or more of the following four sub-themes:

a) Planning: In the context of the large, dispersed and unplanned cities of the global south, planning for resilience becomes a matter of collaborative initiative involving a host of actors and sentient infrastructures. This requires mobilising plural and interdisciplinary knowledges, both for understanding and for acting in intelligent ways. 

b) People: Human vulnerability and resilience go hand in hand. The poor are deprived in plural ways, but also forced to become resilient subjects, making use of the city and their know-how in imaginative ways.

c) Infrastructure: Cities are held together by infrastructures, which also instantiate and regulate social life in quite strong ways. In the global south the infrastructures are broken, incomplete, badly regulated, underfunded and often reliant on vernacular improvisations. Technical solutions alone will go only so far, and are expensive.

d) Habitat: The urban habitat is central to resilience, in the form of lived experience, the consequences of emissions and heating, the formation of symbolic and public culture, the consequences of urban architecture and design. This is an obvious terrain for interdisciplinary work on jointly making sense of how habitats can be managed as a silent form of 'atmospheric' regulation.

Eligibility Requirements

The Cities & Infrastructure Programme is open to researchers based at UK institutions. The main applicant must be based at a UK university or research institute and be of postdoctoral or above equivalent status. The applicant must either be in a permanent position at the institution or have a fixed-term position for the duration of the award. Co-applicants can be from overseas, but they must also have a PhD and have at least three years of postdoctoral or above equivalent research experience.

ODA Eligibility Criteria

The Cities & Infrastructure Programme aims to support the “economic development and welfare of developing countries.” Only research that has a primary objective which is directly and primarily relevant to the problems of developing countries may be counted as ODA. We will require applicants to demonstrate that the proposal is ODA eligible. ODA eligibility is an essential criterion – projects will only be deemed eligible for funding if they can demonstrate that they satisfy ODA eligibility criteria. The British Academy, with the other Global Challenges Research Fund delivery partners, have provided an additional ODA guidance document for applicants.

Value & Duration

This Programme expects to make 8-10 awards estimated at £300,000 paid in instalments during a 16 month period, with projects expected to start in September 2017. Awards are funded on a 100% full economic costs basis inclusive of overhead. Interested applicants are invited to submit their applications by Wednesday, 14 June 2017. The UK host institution must endorse your application by Thursday, 15 June 2017.

Application Process

Applications must be submitted online using the British Academy’s online grant application system, Flexi-Grant. All applicants must register with the British Academy’s Flexi-Grant system to enable the processing and assessment of their application.

Application Deadline: Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Institution Approval Deadline: Thursday, 15 June
Decisions Available: August 2017

Additional Information

Please refer to the Scheme Notes and the FAQs for additional information.

Contact Details

Please contact GCRF@britac.ac.uk or call 020 7969 5220 for further information.

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