International funding – ODA

What is Official Development Assistance (ODA)?

ODA funded research forms part of the UK Government’s pledge to spend 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) on aid to developing countries. ODA research must promote the social and economic welfare of a low or middle-income country on the OECD’s DAC list. Projects should focus on sustainable development, as outlined in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Applicants should embed ODA compliance in their research from the start, and work closely with international partners to design their research questions.

ODA funding opportunities

Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF)

The GCRF is a £1.5 billion UK government fund to support challenge-led research in low and middle-income countries. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) administers the fund through delivery partners including the Research Councils and national academies. Some funding is allocated directly to the Research Councils and some is unallocated. Plans for this common pot or ‘collective fund’ are ongoing.

Newton Fund

The Newton Fund develops science and innovation partnerships that promote the economic development and welfare of its partner countries. This fund supports bilateral partnerships with eligible middle-income countries, and the UK has invested £735 million up to 2021. Like the GCRF, it is administered by BEIS through delivery partners including UKRI, the British Council, and national academies.

National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)

The NIHR Global Health Research programme supports high-quality applied health research for the direct and primary benefit of people in low and middle-income countries.


Leeds internal ODA guidelines

Leeds response to safeguarding in international research

Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) research uptake guidance

NIHR: empowering meaningful community engagement and involvement in global health research


If you are unsure whether your project is ODA compliant, please contact the Global Research Development Team: