‘Looking to the long-term: sustainable research partnerships between LMICs and the UK’

Lucy Lawrenson

Last week, 10th March 2022, the UKCDR team was pleased to host seven remarkable speakers in our Euston office and 200 audience members virtually. The panel, including several members of the Strategic Coherence of ODA-funded Research (SCOR) Board, came together to discuss barriers and approaches to equity in global development research partnerships between low-and middle-income countries and the UK.  

Our esteemed speakers:  

The event opened with introductory remarks from our Executive Director, Dr Maggy Heintz, followed by a virtual keynote address from SCOR Chair, Marie Staunton CBE, who set the scene for the day’s discussion.  

Session One: the importance of science, technology and research to development agendas

Prof Charlotte Watts opened Session One by discussing

Charlotte Watts and Mavis Owusu-Gyamfi

ambitions for UK ODA-funded research from now until 2025, providing a sense of the overall UK policy and funding landscape. Mavis Owusu-Gyamfi then illuminated the role of research and technology in supporting the development agenda of African governments through an economic lens. The session closed with a lively Q&A in which attendees got to pose questions to our two panelists.  


Session Two: global academic partnerships

Ernest Aryeetey and Dajana Dzanovic

Prof Ernest Aryeetey kicked off Session Two by reflecting on how African universities think of and approach international research partnerships, with an emphasis on how this has changed in recent years, especially in light of Black Lives Matter. These reflections were complimented by Prof Dajana Dzanovic’s presentation, ‘UK Universities and Global Research Partnerships’, which discussed how universities and funders can balance between the necessary admin and equity.  

Session Three: demonstrating impact – how we can work together

Session Three was led by our final external speaker, Prof Melissa Leach, who highlighted different definitions of research impact and the importance of working together. In particular, Melissa emphasized the need for transdisciplinarity and co-construction to improve impact.  

Ernest, Dajana and Melissa then answered questions from attendees, and we heard from an audience member, Mark Woolhouse, about his observations on issues of equity in co-authorship between UK and LMIC researchers.  

Throughout the event, audience members used the live poll to tell us what they thought was the biggest barrier to equitable partnerships. As we drew to a close, Maggy shared the poll results with the audience.

34% of the audience agreed that a lack of awareness and understanding of LMIC contexts and constraints represented the biggest remaining barrier.  

UKCDR is proud to have a sustained focus on equitable partnerships and research capacity strengthening. In closing, our Senior Research and Policy Officer, Alice Chadwick El-Ali, demonstrated how UKCDR has taken this work forward in recent years and how we continue to advocate for equitable partnerships across our projects, including guidance from UKCDR and ESSENCE on moving from principles to practice coming out in May this year.  

A huge thanks to everyone who attended our event, our moderator Dr Maggie Heintz, and each of our esteemed speakers.  

And don’t worry – if you didn’t get the chance to join us, you can watch the event recording on our website! Use the passcode: =%vUT%4N