Research and science has led to huge progress in global development – we are living longer and healthier lives than ever before in human history. However, this progress is threatened by the complex challenges we face today such as climate change, conflict, and chronic diseases. We need to tackle these issues through a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach.

Recognising this, in 2015 the UK Government made a dramatic shift within its international development efforts – a yearly incremental rise in aid spend specifically for research from approximately £400 million in 2015 to over £1.2 billion in 2021.

Through this significant increase and by adopting a cross-government strategy, the UK aims to maximise impact through scientific discovery and innovation, while also broadening its existing research base to address global development challenges.

The significant uplift in funding and the multiple sources of ODA-research funding provide an opportunity for the UK but also call for greater coherence. The establishment of the Strategic Coherence of ODA research funding (SCOR) Board in 2018 has brought an overall perspective on the funding, expertise and experience of all parts of Her Majesty’s Government to ensure research can have maximum impact on international development objectives and outcomes in developing countries.

The SCOR Board is working to make the UK, which is already one of the most productive, innovative and high-quality research countries, also a world leader in collaboration for the use of research and innovation to achieve sustainable development.

Already SCOR Board, through the UK Collaborative on Development Research (UKCDR), which it governs, has made great progress in building a coherent and evidence-informed approach to strategic prioritisation of research under the various government funds, and ensuring common approaches where relevant. For example, the team delivered critical work including the UK International Development Research Funders Statement on Safeguarding launched on 18th October 2018, at the International Safeguarding Summit hosted by the right Honourable Penny Mordaunt MP. This sets out a joint UK commitment to the highest standards in organisational culture, systems and practice required to prevent and tackle all incidents of harm and abuse.

In this busy year, we have met four times and have discussed key topics such as UK research investments in housing, antimicrobial resistance, and research investments across a few countries Africa. We have engaged in-country to support our analyses and inform our discussions. We have also recruited two independent members to ensure that the Board has a greater diversity of views. To steer UKCDR, Dr Marta Tufet was appointed as the new Executive Director early in 2018. Her wealth of experience and networks has enabled the team to develop a bold strategy to add greater value to international development research.

The SCOR and UKCDR system allow the UK Government to be greater than the sum of its individual parts and is vital to ensure that ODA research funding is spent strategically and coherently to ensure that it maximises impact, provides value for taxpayer’s money to help the poorest people in the world.

Professor Peter Piot, Chair of Strategic Coherence for ODA funded Research Board


This year has been an exciting time for UKCDR. We have made huge strides laying the groundwork for our organisation to support UK research funders of international development in achieving maximum impact.

Earlier this year we launched our ambitious new strategy (2018-22) and rebranded our organisation under the guidance of the SCOR Board. This will allow us to harness the true power of research to address global challenges, by providing greater coherence, cross-sectoral action and shared accountability among the major UK funders of international development research.

At the core of our new strategy is a principal commitment to data mapping, analysis and foresight, with remaining activities built upon this strong foundation of knowledge and evidence. There are four integrated and overlapping aims: Mapping, analysis and foresight; Convening for collaboration and joint action; Sharing information, learning and best practice; and A collective voice to shape policy.

These aims are critical to ensure that research has the greatest potential to accelerate global development. UKCDR provides rapid access to a range of expertise across its members, and the global research community. Our activities this year – for example, mapping UK research investments in five countries, convening funders on vital issues such as disasters, health, and research capacity strengthening, are a demonstration of the value that UKCDR brings.

A key achievement we are particularly proud of this year has been the alignment of UK funders towards a joint commitment to the highest standards in organisational culture, systems and practice required to prevent and tackle all incidents of harm and abuse, with a joint funder statement launched on 18th October 2018, at the International Safeguarding Summit hosted by the right Honourable Penny Mordaunt MP.

Another important highlight of our work this year has been the support for the UK Government’s new approach to engagement with Africa, announced earlier in the year by the UK’s Prime Minister, including a commitment to support science, technology and innovation partnerships with African countries. At UKCDR we are capitalising on the increase ODA research footprint between leading UK and African researchers in support of this new approach to Africa, for example, through our work on research in housing in Kenya. By bringing together different parts of both governments and researchers to work together we aim to ensure UK research is demand-led and has greater potential to achieve outcomes for development. We strongly believe that collaboration at country level is key to achieve sustainable development outcomes.

I am looking forward to our next year to build on the firm foundations the team have built and exploring new opportunities to ensure that UK research funding continues to achieve impact for international development.

Dr Marta Tufet, Executive Director, UKCDR


Who we are

UK Collaborative on Development Research (UKCDR), is a collaborative of government and research funders working in international development.

Our core contributing members include:

Our vision:

Accelerated global development through the power of research and knowledge.

Our mission:

We exist to amplify the value and impact of research for global development by promoting coherence, collaboration and joint action among UK research funders.

Our strategy:

At the core of our strategy is a principal commitment to data mapping, analysis and foresight, with our remaining activities built upon this strong foundation of knowledge and evidence.

Our Governance

UKCDR is governed by the Strategic Coherence on ODA funded Research (SCOR) Board. The SCOR Board brings an overall perspective on the funding, expertise and experience of all parts of HM Government and Wellcome. It was established in December 2017 with the appointment of its first independent chair.

Furthermore, the UKCDR Officials Group was assembled in mid-2018 to provide an executive function to the SCOR Board and provide funder assurance for UKCDR. We have also set up a Stakeholder Council comprising expertise from our wider members to ensure we have a diversity of opinions and views from across the international development research sector.

UKCDR Origins

The UK Collaborative on Development Sciences (UKCDS) was created in 2007 (now known as UKCDR), following recommendations of the Development Sciences Working Group led by the then Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir David King.

In 2012 UKCDS was independently evaluated and renewed until 2018, supported by the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee inquiry 2012-13, Building Scientific Capacity for Development.

In 2015, with the significant increase and re-distribution of ODA research funds across different government departments, it was recognised that UKCDS had more of a raison d’être than ever. A special session of the 2016 House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee emphasised the need for an overarching body for coherence to help ensure ‘the UK develops a joined-up, comprehensive and strategic offer on science and research for development’.

In response to this recommendation the existing UKCDS Board, comprising 14 stakeholders, was disbanded in favour of the higher-level Strategic Coherence for ODA research (SCOR) Board to be chaired by an independent member (established in November 2017).

In June 2018 UKCDS was rebranded UKCDR (UK collaborative on Development Research) to reflect initiatives that work across a range of disciplines and stronger engagement of the Arts and Humanities sector.


2018 was a busy year for UKCDR and a year of transition, with a new Board, a new Executive Director, a new strategy, and a new brand. Here we feature some of our major highlights and achievements from the year:

1. Our new Strategy

In 2018 we were very excited to unveil UKCDR’s bold Strategy, brand and website; a new platform with key resources and latest updates for the international development research community. Developed in consultation with stakeholders, the Strategy reflects UKCDR’s aim to work towards coherence across all UK funders of international research and to be inclusive of all research. It comprises four integrated and overlapping aims:

Approved by the newly created SCOR Board in May 2018, the Strategy was subsequently shared with our members and stakeholders at the UKCDR launch on 25th June 2018. This comprehensive re-brand aims to demonstrate greater integration of all research disciplines, including the arts and humanities.

The UKCDR Strategy will help harness the true power of research to address global challenges, by ensuring greater coherence, cross-sectoral action and shared accountability among the major UK funders of international development research.

“[UKCDR is] a crucial part of the UK international development landscape; Its work to promote coherence and link up development research funding in the UK and its impact in developing countries cannot be overestimated.” - Professor Peter Piot, the first independent Chair of the SCOR Board

The Launch Event

The launch of UKCDR's new strategy was attended by over 150 participants from across government and research funders, research and higher education institutes, and the private and philanthropic sectors. A round table of diverse leaders and researchers in global development debated the future role of UKCDR, the SCOR Board, and Official Development Assistance (ODA) research in a rapidly evolving world.

To coincide with our strategy launch event, UKCDR Executive Director and Chair of SCOR Board wrote an opinion article, 'Global issues often seem a world away', published in the Telegraph in June 2018. The launch event also received media coverage in Devex and Research Fortnight.

“It’s about recognizing when we need to work with other organizations and individuals to enhance our contributions and impact. If we can take those steps as a community in the UK, with our partners in Africa, Asia and Latin America, we stand to make a much greater contribution to our shared challenges and have a much greater impact on the lives of the poorest and most marginalized.”

Jonathan Harle, Director of Programmes at INASP reflects on the importance of collaboration and capacity development for research impact on his blog about the event 'Making the UK's Research Count'.

The panel was chaired by Professor Melissa Leach, Director, Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and included: Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Scientific Adviser, Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) and SCOR Board Member; Ms Diana Dalton, Deputy Director, Research and Evidence Division, Department for International Development (DFID); Dr Alison Evans, Chief Commissioner, Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI); Dr Jaideep Gupte, Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), Challenge Leader for Cities and Sustainable Infrastructure; and Dr Janet Midega, Science Officer for Drug Resistant Infections and AMR, Wellcome

2. Research on Housing in Kenya

Our work on housing research in Kenya cuts across UKCDR’s four strategic aims and is a prime example of how we are supporting a ‘one-government approach’ to ensure greater coherence, increase opportunities for impact and reduce potential duplication and waste.

Nairboi, Kenya

Early in 2018 the UK Prime Minister outlined the UK’s new approach to engaging with Africa, including a commitment to science, technology and innovation partnerships. The shift to a ‘one-government approach’ will ensure that knowledge and technology create new, harmonised opportunities to transform the lives of the poorest and foster growth in African economies.

At UKCDR we are working in support of this new approach to Africa, under SCOR Board’s guidance, to capitalise on the increased ODA research footprint between leading UK and African researchers and institutions. Ultimately, UKCDR’s effort is dependent on driving greater coherence across all government research funding.

In Kenya, we are engaging closely with the UK-Kenya High Level Oversight Board on Research Science, Innovation, which is chaired by the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Education in Kenya and the British High Commissioner to Kenya, specifically working on how research can support one of Kenya’s key policy areas on the provision of affordable new and decent houses.

Our Achievements:

  • UKCDR analysed funding commitments from the UK relating to housing in Kenya since 2015 in a comprehensive mapping report, which informed discussions at the 2nd meeting of the UK-Kenya Board in July 2018.
“The paper is a huge step forward for us in Kenya in terms of our ability to understand and convey the range of UK investment on priority areas. It will be used to support high level, bilateral exchange at a meeting next week as a first step to presenting a more coherent narrative on HMG’s work in Kenya.”

- Christine Kolbe, Head of DFID East Africa Research Hub

  • As a result, UKCDR will convene a high-level research symposium in Nairobi in 2019, in partnership with the DFID East Africa Research Hub and Grand Challenges Research Fund under UKRI, bringing together researchers, innovators and policymakers.
  • It will aim to demonstrate the UK’s and Kenya’s partnership in this area, strengthen bilateral research partnerships, and promote the uptake of interdisciplinary research in areas such as access to clean water, resilience to climate change, and improved health, which housing can have implications on.
  • The outcomes of this event will also feed into DFID Kenya’s programme on Sustainable Urban Economic Development which intends to put in place sustainable urban economic plans, improve the investment in climate and draw in investment for key climate-resilient infrastructure and value chain projects in emerging urban centres in Kenya.

By bringing together different sectors of governments and researchers we hope to drive demand-led UK research with greater potential to achieve outcomes for development.

“This project is a great example of how UKCDR’s work on data analysis and coherence can help at country level and in support of wider cross-government Africa strategy.”

- Charlotte Watts, Chief Scientific Adviser DFID

3. Maternal and Neonatal Health

Part of UKCDR’s added value is our data analysis work and our convening power. In 2018 the importance of these was demonstrated through our work with funders on maternal and neonatal health which led to the development of a cross-funder research strategy and launch of a joint funding call.

At the request of the Medical Research Council (MRC) and interest from the UKCDR Health Funders Forum, we convened a cross-funder group on maternal and neonatal health research to understand funding gaps and opportunities. Consequentially, UKCDR undertook a rapid analysis of UK research funders’ international development research investments in maternal and neonatal health.

The timeline shows the development of the project and illustrates UKCDR’s critical role in the creation of the joint call, acknowledged by the funders.

Our achievements:

  • The comparative analysis produced by UKCDR informed funder discussions in this area to identify strategic research gaps.
  • To guide these discussions further, and ensure input from the research community, UKCDR convened and presented at the 2018 Global Women’s (GLOW) Research Society conference (June 2018), in collaboration with the MARCH Centre and the MRC.
  • The outcome of these activities is a cross-funder long-term strategy on maternal and neonatal health research. This strategy informed the development and launch in Jan 2019 of a joint £10m funding call (MRC and DHSC/NIHR) for maternal and neonatal health research projects, that is open to lead researchers from LMICs,
  • MRC and DHSC/NIHR have also developed an overview of global maternal and neonatal health research priorities, which will be used to inform the remit of future funding calls in maternal and neonatal health.
“As research funders it is vitally important to understand the priorities and current activities of funders working in a similar space. UKCDR played a crucial role in this respect, helping to map the current landscape of maternal and neonatal health research and bringing funding agencies together. The resulting discussions formed the basis of an exciting joint MRC_NIHR programme.”

- Phil Woodgate, Programme Manager, Global Health Challenges at the MRC


Under the guidance of the SCOR Board, UKCDR has made great progress in 2018/19 towards maximising the value of public investment in research, based on the recommendations of the 2018 National Audit Office report on Cross-government funding of research and development.

We are providing funders with a better understanding of each other’s investments and using these findings to facilitate discussions on prioritisation, strengthening rationale for future investments.

1. Map Major UK ODA investments

We aim to coordinate the collection of standardised information across UKCDR members and wider stakeholders on UK’s ODA research investments to establish a comprehensive portfolio that can inform areas of particular interest and links to the 17 SDGs. To this end, UKCDR has set up the Data Mapping and Analysis group and delivered rapid analyses of new investments in China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Nigeria & South Africa since 2015.

Data Mapping and Analysis Group

Having accessible, comprehensive and coherent information on what and where SCOR Board members are investing is essential to fulfil SCOR’s aims of providing strategic coherence and a shared vision. However, at present, there is neither a single comprehensive overview of ODA Research and Development (R&D) funding distribution and spend across government departments, nor a holistic approach to gather this information and identify trends in international development.

To address this, UKCDR established the Data Mapping and Analysis Group (D-MAG) in September 2018, bringing together funders at a technical level, to identify and overcome the challenges and barriers impeding cross-member data analysis. The Group will over the long-term aim to standardise data collection and methodology and support cross-funder analyses.

Analysis of UK research investments in five countries

UKCDR carried out rapid analyses on investments committed by members since 2015, on various countries (China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa).

This is the first high-level picture of UK cross-government funding within these countries and is helping facilitate SCOR Board discussions on greater coherence and in support of the cross-government new approach to engagement with Africa. The reports are also helping foster dialogue in-country on the UK’s R&D offer and alignment to policy needs (for example in Kenya, see ‘Highlights & achievements section’).

Given the value of these initial analyses in November 2018 the SCOR Board commissioned UKCDR to carry out more in-depth analyses across three countries Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa where UK engagement is currently being scaled up. These will be delivered in consultation with the Data Mapping and Analysis Group throughout 2019.

2. Identification of future international development and research trends

Recognising that scientific, societal and economic returns on investment are long-term, we aim to work with the global research community to identify future global trends to direct investments and have the greatest chance of addressing challenges of the future. This year we have contributed to this objective through our tuberculosis mapping work.

Tuberculosis Report

TB is now the leading cause of death from infectious disease a fact which instigated the first ever UN General Assembly high-level meeting on tuberculosis (TB) in September 2018, demonstrating the importance of TB on the global agenda.

UKCDR produced a rapid analysis of UK investment into TB research committed since the 2015 UK Government spending review and aid strategy. The report provided evidence for the UK delegation attending the UN High-Level meeting on TB. It was well received given it analysed research investments across the whole of government and the Wellcome Trust, which would not be possible without UKCDR’s unique position and workforce.

In October 2018, UKCDR co-hosted a UK TB & AMR Research Roundtable with Results UK, attended by over 45 researchers, NGOs, funders and experts, to discuss how the UK can deliver on the commitments of the UN High-Level Meeting on TB.

3. Data analysis & identification of funding gaps & opportunities

UKCDR analyses information on research investments to identify strategic gaps that require new research, opportunities for synergy, complementarity and joint working to reduce the risk of duplication. In 2018 we analysed joint funder activities related to combating antimicrobial resistance.

Antimicrobial Resistance Report

Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) poses a huge threat to human health that is estimated could claim up to 10 million lives by 2050. To tackle AMR, there needs to be a one health approach that goes beyond country borders. Due to the importance of this issue, UKCDR produced a paper for the SCOR Board on high-level UK commitments on AMR research and global coordination mechanisms. At the request of the SCOR Board, the report will be shared more widely with other stakeholders in 2019.

4. Identification of future international development and research trends

We support efforts to collect standardised information to facilitate the joint evaluation of outcomes and impact of research investments across our members. This helps us understand how the UK is contributing to the SDGs through research and inform funding decisions and direction. In 2018, for example, we focused on understanding cross-funder investments and collaborations with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) centres and UK research institutions.

Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) report

UKCDR worked in partnership with Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), DFID, the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Rothamsted Research, to undertake the first mapping exercise of UK links with CGIAR centres (the world’s largest agricultural international research network).

The aim of this work was to provide funding agencies accurate baseline information of existing collaborations between CGIAR centres and UK research institutions and stimulate discussion and recommendations on how the interface between UK Research Organisations and the CGIAR centres could be improved.

A report was produced in 2018 analysing 8 UK funders, 15 CGIAR centres and 26 UK research organisations were surveyed, capturing a baseline of 394 collaborative research projects active between April 2012 to March 2017

Following the report, we facilitated a BBSRC-DFID high-level meeting in Aug 2018 on crop research, which has identified new ways for CGIAR-UKRO to maximise impact from their collaborations.

UKRI & DFID - CGIAR MoU…would provide a framework for deepening existing, and spark creation of new collaboration across UK and CGIAR research institutions across key areas of interest as these have emerged from the workshop.”

- Evangelia Kougioumoutzi - UKRI BBSRC


It is widely recognised that no single organisation can tackle global challenges on their own. Greater dialogue and strategic coherence is needed across government funders, along with engagement of civil society, business and philanthropy, academia and others to enhance the effectiveness of international development efforts.

At UKCDR we draw on the complementary skills of our members and stakeholders by supporting them to work collaboratively. We do this by convening funder fora, brokering dialogue between sectors and retaining flexibility to respond to a changing landscape.

1. Convene funder fora on key themes

Health Funders Forum (HFF)

The HFF meets twice a year, bringing together major UK funders of global health research including UKRI research councils, Wellcome, DFID and DHSC. The Forum enables funders to share information and best practice, identify potential areas for joint working, and provides an overview of UK-funded global health research - including current or future priority areas, to support coherence.

This year we established a sub-group which looked specifically at maternal and neonatal research funding. We produced a rapid analysis of maternal and neonatal health research investments, which helped inform a cross-funded research strategy and the development of a joint funding scheme between DHSC/NIHR and the MRC (see ‘Highlights & Achievements’ section).

Disasters Research Group (DRG)

The DRG meets three times a year to promote coordination, networking and collaboration opportunities among UK research funders and experts linked to international disaster reduction initiatives. It also delivers components of the UK’s commitment to Disaster Risk Reduction research investments, initiatives, investments and impacts.

This year the DRG initiated a dialogue on how UK research funders could respond to destruction caused by the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season. Prompted by these discussions, UKRI (via NERC) funded a knowledge exchange fellowship.

The fellowship contributes to UK efforts to support resilient, long-term recovery in the Caribbean, by making better use of research on natural hazards, natural resource management, risk and resilience. It answers a demand by Caribbean governments and regional stakeholders for more research and technical assistance to ‘build back better’ and is an example of supporting recovery through demand-driven research.

UKCDR’s network of funder and research contacts has also been instrumental in providing experts links to government in response to other disasters.

“UKCDR provides an invaluable platform for a multi-disciplinary, multi-agency and multi-organisation meeting space that delivers very effective opportunities to strengthen the dialogue and collaboration with policy-makers, science and technology research partners and disaster risk reduction (DRR) professionals at local, national and links to global levels to identify needs and knowledge gaps, and to co-design, co-produce and co-deliver new knowledge, and make science more readily available and accessible.”

- DRG Member, 2018

Research Capacity Strengthening Group (RCSG)

The RCSG is a community of practice bringing together over 20 UK funders and practitioners to share, learn, connect and improve practice in research capacity strengthening. It includes funders such as DFID, Wellcome, the MRC, and organisations that deliver programmes, such as International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP), the Association of Commonwealth Universities and the academies.

The group met twice in 2018 and UKCDR supported the development of a new DFID-funded project to improve Research Capacity Strengthening evaluation practice led by the African Population and Health Research Centre (APHRC) Kenya and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) Centre for Capacity Research.

The group consistently receives positive feedback. This year they have found UKCDR’s equitable partnerships guidance particularly useful and noted that our work in tracking what is going on in the research capacity strengthening arena is vital for members as we bring topical issues and information to the fore.

2. International & UK outreach

This year our team have been working with members and stakeholders the UK and beyond to contextualise our work, to understand priorities, to share and learn from each other and to identify further opportunities for collaboration or partnership to maximise research impact.

We have strengthened our international in-country engagement through participation in the UK-Kenya High Level Oversight Board, (described in the ‘Highlights & Achievements section), and the Science and Innovation Network.

UKCDR is also contributing to international coordination mechanisms such as ESSENCE and the International Research Development Funders Forum. We have engaged with organisations such as the Gates Foundation to gain a better understanding of the wider international research funding landscape and participated in the Salzburg Global Seminar, with UKRI and GCRF, and panel discussions such as Women in Global Health Conference. (Right Image: Dr Marta Tufet presenting at Salzburg Global Seminar)

Within the UK, we have been engaging with universities to facilitate greater understanding of the ODA research funding landscape and to promote equitable and fair partnerships. Visits included Exeter, Bristol, London, Edinburgh, Cambridge and Oxford.


We leverage the expertise of our members from the intersection of research and international development, to provide a ‘go-to’ service for information and knowledge by producing best practice guidance, tools and resources and capturing lessons learned for the international development research community.

We have increased engagement with UK universities to explain the ODA funded research landscape and published an opinion article in The Telegraph on the importance of research for international development.

1. Share information and knowledge

We provide a single ‘go-to’ source of information for researchers to help them navigate the research funding landscape. We achieve this objective through our Communication channels including our Communications Forum.


Communicating with our members and wider stakeholders is vital to ensure that we fulfil our aims. We currently use four methods to share our work, and that of our members – the Communications Forum, UKCDR website, newsletters, social media platforms and stakeholder engagement. We have also been active in our outreach work by attending events, convening our standing groups and participating in conferences.

The new UKCDR website, launched in June 2018, was streamlined to provide easier access to information and our work. Pages on the funding landscape page, ODA guidance and funding opportunities have been redesigned for user benefit.

Resources on equitable partnerships are now pooled to make it easy for stakeholders to access. Resources pages on disasters, health and research capacity strengthening will be expanded in 2019.

We produce two newsletters – a weekly which collates news from our members and funding calls and the main audience is researchers in the UK. The monthly newsletter has a higher subscription rate and shares activities and important news from members, reaching a targeted audience with quality and relevant content.

“UKCDR provides an invaluable platform for a multi-disciplinary, multi-agency and multi-organisation meeting space that delivers very effective opportunities to strengthen the dialogue and collaboration with policy-makers, science and technology research partners and disaster risk reduction (DRR) professionals at local, national and links to global levels to identify needs and knowledge gaps, and to co-design, co-produce and co-deliver new knowledge, and make science more readily available and accessible.”

- James Georgalakis, Director of Communications and Impact at the Institute of Development Studies.

The Communications Forum continues to be a vibrant and popular event. It is an informal community platform co-hosted with the London International Development Centre (LIDC). Twice a year it brings together experts in research communications from universities, funding agencies, research institutes, think tanks and NGOs. Participants specialise in international development research communications or work for organisations with an important development research portfolio such as the Wellcome Trust, ODI, LSHTM, UKRI and IIED.

In 2018, the Forum covered the topic of ‘Communicating in an age of uncertainty’ presented by Alex Aiken, Executive Director for Government Communications. The group have expressed that the forum is valuable to their work – it provides them with an opportunity to learn about what each other are doing in research communications, network and learn about best practice.

2. Produce best practice guidelines and support shared learning

We identify areas where UKCDR can add value to the activities of our funders by convening experts to produce guidance on best practice. In 2018 we continued to have significant impact through our work on equitable partnerships.

Equitable partnerships

In 2017, UKCDR produced a report on Finding and Building Effective and Equitable Research Collaborations or Partnerships. This was well-received and confronts a highly topical issue with our members and wider stakeholders. As a result, we have stayed engaged with activities in this space. The wide impact of this report has seen it references in several publications (see Box)

In April 2018, we co-hosted a roundtable on “Understanding and Improving fair and Equitable Research Partnerships” with the Rethinking Research Partnerships Collaborative, focusing on a “partners perspective” and representatives from academia and civil society organisations based in the UK and the global South. Southern partner perspectives were provided by International NGO Training and Research Centre (INTRAC), Africans Rising and South-South Exchange Programme for Research on the History of Development (SEPHIS) among others.

We are regularly requested to present on this topic at various conferences, including:

  • The Research Fairness Initiative (RFI) 5th colloquium, Bern Switzerland in November - Discussing the development and future implementation of the RFI and provide UKCDR’s perspective.
  • DHSC Global Health Research Units and Groups Directors meeting
  • International Research for Development Funders Forum (IRDFF) - We participated in the equitable partnerships session.


Our members have a strong track record of delivering outcomes and impact for international development through the support of research and generation of knowledge. Our governing body, the SCOR Board, brings together the key decision-makers four times a year to discuss research and international development funding in the UK. UKCDR is extremely well positioned to provide a collective voice to inform and shape policy and strengthen the international capacity of the UK research based for international development.

Examples across this annual report demonstrate how we are supporting leadership and coordination and supporting coherent priority setting. In 2018 one of our main achievements in this area was aligning funders to produce a joint statement from UK research funders on safeguarding.

1. Safeguarding

The allegations of sexual misconduct during Oxfam's humanitarian response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake in February 2018, shone a spotlight on sexual exploitation and abuse in the aid sector.

DFID brought this to the attention of the SCOR Board who working with UKCDR aligned on a joint Research Funders Safeguarding Statement of Commitment for the international development research sector. This was launched at the Putting People First: Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse and Sexual Harassment in the Aid Sector Summit hosted by the right Honourable Penny Mordaunt MP in October 2018.

This statement demonstrates the first joint effort of the UK research community to raise standards of behaviour across the sector and stands as a key pledge alongside other sectoral commitments by donors, UK non-governmental organisations, UK private sector organisations, the United Nations and international financial institutions.

Professor Ian Diamond, Chair of DFID Research Advisory Group, presenting statement at summit

UKCDR’s work represents the start of a long-term ambition and commitment by us and by UK funders to ensure real step-change on this issue across the international development research sector.

Alongside a broad range of safeguarding activities across the UK international development community, our role is to support the international development research community to:

  • promote an organisational culture that condemns all forms of harm and abuse
  • to identify evidence of best practice in safeguarding and to
  • facilitate the development of principles and guidance to support harmonised approaches to safeguarding.
“A great example of the importance of funders working together, coordinated by #SCOR.”

- Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust

Safeguarding Funders Group

In this context, we have established and convened a Safeguarding Funders Group, and a Safeguarding Expert Advisory Group which comprises individuals from academia, NGOs and the private sector. Committing to inclusive and thorough consultation as an essential aspect of this work, we have also held consultative joint, and bilateral meetings, with other key stakeholders.

“The [Safeguarding Expert Advisory] group played a key role in shaping the funders’ statement of commitment and the funders’ options paper, seeking to maintain demanding ethical standards whilst at the same time making proposals that research funders would be in position to take forward.”

- Dr Keith Hyams, Reader in Politics and International Studies and Deputy Director of the Interdisciplinary Ethics Research Group, University of Warwick

Safeguarding principles and guidance

We are currently developing a project plan to develop safeguarding principles and guidance to support key stakeholders in raising safeguarding standards in international development research funding. As a first step, we are commissioning an evidence review to guide and inform the direction of this work in 2019.


We have made great progress this year – through the creation of a bold new Strategy to producing key pieces of work that have demonstrated our ability to produce high quality analysis, share information & best practice, convene for joint action and being a collective voice. We plan on building on these successes – developing research funders guidelines on safeguarding, working with the DFID East Africa Research hub to host the Kenya Housing symposium, and expand our analysis of UK research investments in international development in Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria.

We also are working with the SCOR Board and the Officials Group on developing a workplan for 2019/2020 that will continue our work on cross-cutting issues such as equitable partnerships as well as develop new work priority areas.


1. UKCDR 2018/19 Finances

UKCDR is supported financially by annual membership fees paid by SCOR Board members. The overall budget for UKCDR is £550K per financial year (April – March). Due to reporting timeframes, the graph below shows the spend for 2018 calendar year. However, the following annual report will cover April 2019-March 2020.

Figure: Cost breakdown by type Jan – Dec 2018 and Proposed Funding Allocation (as outlined by DFID MoU 2018)

The pie chart shows the financial commitment of each funder as a % of our yearly budget. These figures are a stated as per DFID’s Business Case, and do not include in-kind costs.

Value for Money

UKCDR adds value by allowing each member and the UK to be greater than the sum of its individual parts, enabling the best of UK science and research to achieve greater international development objectives and outcomes. We provide access to a range of expertise across its members, and the external research and international development community – more quickly than any member could hope to access independently.

UKCDR ensures delivery of value for money by maximising the impact of each core member’s investment, whilst reducing the financial risk of any given member. Our team also follows good procurement practices and leverages the existing infrastructure and supplier networks of our funders.