UK science and research key to lasting impact for international development

28 August, 2020



London, UK

UK science and research key to lasting impact for international development

UK Collaborative on Development Research (UKCDR) has published a series of success stories to highlight the contribution of UK research to meeting global development challenges set out in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The UK is recognised as a leader in science and research for international development, and the current COVID-19 pandemic has shown the importance of research in responding to a global crisis. This was demonstrated in the recent op-ed by Prof Peter Piot, Independent Chair of the Strategic Coherence for ODA Research (SCOR) Board ‘Research, innovation vital in new COVID-19 world’.

In a collection of impact success stories, compiled through a unique collaborative effort by UK research funders including DFID, UKRI, BEIS, DHSC and Wellcome, UKCDR demonstrates that UK-funded research has had a national and global impact, be it in terms of direct human development or influence on policy geared towards meeting the SDGs across the spectrum of international development.

The impact of research is well documented through case studies, but these cross-funder success stories particularly focus on impact through long-term and large-scale investments showcasing the UK’s engagement with the world through research.

The impact of scientific research provides strong evidence for the UK Government’s increasing commitment to aid spend in research, tripling from ~£400 million in 2015 to over £1.2 billion in 2020. Through this significant increase and a new cross-government approach, the UK is enhancing impact through scientific discovery and innovation, whilst broadening its existing research base to address global development challenges.

UK research’s contribution to improving the lives of people globally can be seen in these 11 success stories, from building the case for climate action and reducing the threat of malaria, to understanding the multidimensional nature of poverty and tackling HIV/AIDS.

They will help stakeholders assess the value of research funding and provide guidance for future research. Overall, they underscore the value of partnerships and reaching across disciplines for new solutions – the acceptance of which is evident in the launch of several major multidisciplinary research funds in recent years, notably the five-year, £1.5 billion Global Challenges Research Fund.

UK-funded research achievements have included:

  • Crop improvement which led to the development of new varieties of rice to support 35 million farmers across Asia and Africa
  • Developing vitamin A-fortified sweet potato in Mozambique and Uganda resulted in a doubling of vitamin A intake for women and children.
  • Developed new approaches to testing and treating HIV, led to 30% reductions in HIV infections for participating communities.
  • Improved financial inclusion through mobile banking services. M-Pesa now has over 28.5 million users across East Africa.

UKCDR will be hosting an event in September on ‘Research enablers for impact: Accelerating the impact of the UK’s investment in international development research’, to bring together a diverse range of players in the international development research community to exchange perspectives and experiences on how to enable, accelerate and evaluate impact of the UK’s investment in international development research.

Notes to editors

  1. SCOR Board members are: Department for International Development (DFID), the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Department for Health & Social Care (DHSC), UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Wellcome Trust.
  2. UKCDR  is a group of government departments and research funders working in international development. UKCDR exists to amplify the value and impact of research for global development by promoting coherence, collaboration and joint action among UK research funders.


For media enquiries please contact:

Nicole Huxley

Communications Manager

UK Collaborative on Development Research

c/o The Wellcome Trust, Gibbs Building, 215 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7611 2093


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