Global development research is on the rise

9 February, 2016

Show me the money

Alex Gwyther

Every year we collect information on UK research for global development. We wanted to share our findings with you to demonstrate just how much development research is growing.

Last year put global development into the spotlight. Several major crises (such as Ebola and migration) tested a development community which also celebrated several new landmark agreements on disasters, climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The UK is a world leader in funding excellent research that helps people in poor communities improve their quality of life. Our strength in this area is only set to increase as major new funding announcements signal funders’ intentions to put UK science and technology at the forefront of tackling global challenges.

The Newton Fund, Global Challenges Research Fund (with its first call aimed at tackling the Zika virus), Ross Fund and Fleming Fund are just some of the many initiatives that will elevate global development research to a level it’s never reached before.

Our calculations didn’t event take into account most of these new funding sources, and yet we still found that our member organisations (some of the biggest UK funders) invested £563m* in development research in 2014-15, up from £414m the year before.

One area that has received a lot of support is around strengthening developing countries’ ability to conduct excellent research. Rough estimates suggest that UK funding has more than doubled between 2014 and 2015.

Global development research is highly interdisciplinary and there is also a lot of collaboration between the funders (see right), who see it as highly valuable too.

Not only does the UK punch above its weight in terms of funding research, but it also does great research too. By looking at a few international research competitions we found that UK academics win an impressively high number of bids, especially in EU funding coming out of the Horizon 2020 initiative 

The figures we collect are only estimates and intended as indications of the UK research landscape. If you see anything you believe to be incorrect, please get in touch. A big thank you to all of the Research Councils, Government Departments and Wellcome Trust who helped us put these numbers together. 

*This number counts Wellcome Trust funding for research in low and middle income countries as a lump sum, therefore it is particularly high as it doesn’t spread the funding over the total duration of some of its programmes.

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