UCL Grand Challenges


About UCL Grand Challenges

Since 2009, the UCL Grand Challenges have changed the way our researchers investigate the world's problems. This is part of a larger culture of cross-disciplinary research at UCL.

UCL Grand Challenges aims to bring researchers together from across UCL, setting the agenda for future research, while building bridges with external partners. 

Since 2009, UCL Grand Challenges have changed the way researchers investigate the world's problems, facilitating hundreds of new connections between researchers from across the university, at all levels. Grand Challenges is an initiative of the UCL Vice-Provost (Research) which seeks to bring UCL’s academic expertise to bear on pressing societal challenges by integrating knowledge and evidence from across disciplines. 

Whilst not seeking to solve the world's problems; Grand Challenges is committed to establishing the intellectual basis for solutions to be found. Through the cross-disciplinary research that Grand Challenges supports, new approaches can emerge and in this way, our small interventions have a significant impact. 'Impact' (the influence of research on the world) is the ultimate objective of our work. It is made possible in several ways, as identified in the 2019 UCL Research Strategy. We believe that cross-disciplinary research, like that fostered by UCL Grand Challenges, can have a major impact on solving some of the world's most pressing problems.

We do this by awarding small grants to UCL researchers, funding major projects, organising and supporting events and academic roundtables, building partnerships, and working closely with colleagues across the university and beyond.

The UCL Grand Challenges Advisory Group, with a senior representative from each faculty, works with us to improve our picture of UCL’s academic strengths, augmenting our activities and identifying new opportunities for UCL’s Grand Challenges.

This graph visualises the collaborations between researchers in UCL departments and divisions facilitated by UCL Grand Challenges Small Grants, from its establishment in 2009 to the end of the 2016/17 academic year

Contact us

To find out more about what the Grand Challenges can offer you, including:

  • help finding a collaborator, either within UCL or an external partner
  • help accessing funding opportunities
  • help getting your cross-disciplinary work out to the public, policymakers or industry

...contact us by emailing grand-challenges@ucl.ac.uk to speak to a member of the team