The Newton Fund is one of several new funds that provide significant opportunities for social science research. The funding landscape is going through a period of rapid change and social scientists must be suitably prepared to take advantage of the opportunities that funds such as the Newton Fund provide.

We have provided further information about the changing funding landscape and how you can prepare yourself for applying for the new funds:

Opportunities for social science

Social science is central to the Newton Fund and there is huge potential for social scientists to exploit some of the significant opportunities it offers. As much of the research funded through the Newton Fund is multidisciplinary, researchers will need to work closely with partners from other disciplines, both in the UK and in the partner countries. 

ESRC seeks social science partnerships where there are shared scientific priorities with the partner countries and there are appropriate delivery mechanisms in place. We will pursue opportunities for social science-led collaborations where we can and seek opportunities to integrate social science within multidisciplinary programmes where this is the most appropriate approach.

Where social science funding capacity is weak but collaborations potentially important we will work with partner countries to strengthen that funding capacity. 

    About the Newton Fund

    The Newton Fund builds science and innovation partnerships with 18 partner countries to support their economic development and social welfare, and to develop their research and innovation capacity for long-term sustainable growth. The fund is part of the UK’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment, which means that the research must benefit a developing country. 

    The Newton Fund aims to promote the economic development and social welfare of either the partner countries or, through working with the partner country, to address the wellbeing of communities. The principle ethos of the fund is its commitment to fair and equal partnerships; all activities must be matched by resources from partner countries and must address country-specific challenges. 

    The Newton Fund is multidisciplinary and social science research is often central to the research it funds.

    The fund is being delivered through 15 UK delivery partners. The partners develop and run calls, and track the  spend of funding they receive as part of the Newton Fund.

    The partner countries are: Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam. 

    The Newton Fund activities offered in each country are chosen and developed in collaboration with local government and funders. This ensures the programmes meet local development priorities. 

    The fund covers three broad activities:

    • People: increasing capacity in science and innovation, individually and institutionally in partner countries
    • Research: research collaborations on development topics
    • Translation: creating collaborative solutions to development challenges and strengthening innovation systems.

    Funding and successes to date

    Since 2014 ESRC has commissioned research collaborations with 10 partner countries, and by 2021 we will have awarded more than £30 million of funding in support of social science-led development research. Our most substantial country engagements are with India (£8 million), South Africa (£7.5 million), Brazil (£5.4 million), China (£5 million) and Mexico (£3.2 million).

    This funding has enabled significant expansion of our activities across a range of priority research areas including:

    • urban transformations in all of our top five countries
    • antimicrobial resistance (AMR) research in India
    • financial systems for supporting sustainable growth in China
    • the social science of the 'food-water-energy Nexus' in Mexico, Brazil and South East Asia.

    We work with all of the other UKRI councils, and the most substantial cross-council funding is for a £5 million multidisciplinary programme which focuses on the social factors of AMR in India. 

    Case studies

    See some more examples of how social science research has made an impact through the Newton Fund:

    How much funding is available?

    £735 million will be invested in the Newton Fund up to 2021, with partner countries providing matched resources. Each activity is individually negotiated between the UK delivery partner and the relevant funder in the partner country. Typically research collaborations are bilateral partnerships, with each country providing the financial resources to support their own researchers and associated needs. 

    ESRC-funded research programmes typically range from £1 million to £5 million, with individual grants ranging from £150,000 to £500,000. 

    Current Newton Fund opportunities

    We will publish links to ESRC Newton Fund funding opportunities when they are announced. We publish the most relevant opportunities for social science in the funding opportunities section of our website:

    All Newton Fund funding opportunities are listed on the Newton Fund website:

    Who can apply?

    Our standard eligibility rules apply to the Newton Fund. International co-investigators can be eligible, and this will be made clear within each individual call. Proposals submitted to ESRC must be predominantly within the social sciences and be ODA-compliant. ESRC Newton Fund calls will be advertised with specific fund terms and conditions. 

    UK applicants will need to identify a research team in the partnering country and ensure the funding proposal’s case for support is jointly written. 

    ESRC will only fund the UK costs. The partner country must have a submission route for their research application and costs. Both proposals will be jointly peer-reviewed and panel-assessed, and funding recommendations will be agreed by both funding partners. 

    How to apply

    ESRC Newton Fund opportunities and details of how to apply for them are published in the funding opportunities section of our website:

      Further information

      If you have any questions, please email our international team: international@esrc.ukri.org.