UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is pioneering an ambitious new approach to tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges through a £200 million investment across 12 global research Hubs and ESRC will be supporting this initiative. 

Over the next five years the Interdisciplinary Research Hubs will work across 85 countries with governments, international agencies, partners and NGOs on the ground in developing countries and around the globe, to develop creative and sustainable solutions which help make the world, and the UK, safer, healthier and more prosperous.

The new Hubs being announced in detail today are funded through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) - which is a key component in delivering the UK AID strategy and puts UK-led research at the heart of efforts to tackle the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Hubs focus on a wide range of global challenges from improving human health and promoting gender equality and social justice to fortifying ecological systems and biodiversity on land and sea, generating agricultural sustainability and fostering greater resilience to natural disasters. Building on existing expertise and experience each Hub aims to achieve tangible outcomes that will improve the lives and livelihoods of millions across the world.

Announcing the 12 UKRI GCRF Hubs alongside 16 other international research partnerships, Science and Universities Minister Chris Skidmore, said: “The UK has a reputation for globally influential research and innovation, and is at the centre of a web of global collaboration – showing that science has no borders. We have a strong history of partnering with other countries – over 50% of UK authored research involves collaborations with international partners. The projects being announced today reinforce our commitment to enhance the UK’s excellence in innovation at home and around the world, driving high-skilled jobs, economic growth and productivity as part of the modern Industrial Strategy.”

Jeremy Neathey, Deputy Director for Research and International at ESRC, said: “These Hubs tackle issues of the utmost importance for people across the world such as access to secure water sources, reductions in equalities associated with South-South migration and improving achievement for Africa’s youth population. The funded researchers and their teams will be catalytic in constructing new ideas to resolve these issues. ESRC is delighted to be leading five of the 12 GCRF Hubs and supporting the other Research Councils that form part of UKRI on the other seven projects.”

Professor Andrew Thompson, UKRI Executive Champion for International, said: “The sheer scale and ambition of these Hubs is what makes them so exciting. They enable us to deliver a coordinated global response with UK researchers working in partnership with governments, NGOs, community groups, international agencies and researchers across developing countries. Each Hub has the potential to transform the quality of life for many people throughout the world and safeguard our planet for future generations.”

Key points about the UKRI GCRF Hubs 

  • 12 Hubs with up to £20 million each over the next five years
  • Over 85 countries are engaged across the 12 Hubs
  • 550 researchers are involved with a further 400 partner organisations
  • Each Hub addresses multiple SDGs, with 16 SDGs addressed in total

ESRC-led Hubs

  • GCRF South-South Migration, Inequality and Development Hub    
  • GCRF Accelerating Achievement for Africa’s Adolescents Hub    
  • GCRF Accountability for Informal Urban Equity Hub    
  • GCRF Trade, Development and the Environment Hub    
  • GCRF Water Security and Sustainable Development Hub

More information can be found on the full summary of the different GCRF Hubs.

The UKRI GCRF Global Interdisciplinary Research Hubs have been announced alongside the Fund for International Development, a £79 million investment delivered by UKRI aimed at enhancing the UK’s excellence in research and innovation through global engagement, forging new bilateral and multilateral research and innovation programmes with global partners.