UCL Grand Challenges


Funding for UCL Researchers

Details of funding available from UCL Grand Challenges.

UCL Grand Challenges funding supports cross-disciplinary collaborations that address societal problems. We offer strategic funding, and 'bottom up' funding opportunities for novel ideas, collaborations and approaches to support community building, societal impacts, and engagement beyond UCL. 

We run an annual Grand Challenges Small Grants programme. We also welcome speculative enquiries from UCL staff throughout the year. In addition, there are specific funding opportunities that arise, including special initiative calls that promote activity in strategic areas.

UCL Grand Challenges Small Grants 2021/22

Grand Challenges Small Grants Academic Year 2021 to 2022
The annual Grand Challenges Small Grants programme.
  • Up to £5,000 for proposals that relate to one of the six UCL Grand Challenges 
  • The scheme is for research-informed projects that have relevance for societal issues
  • Funding covers work until 31 July 2022

Find out more and apply

Other small grants available at UCL

Other small grants available at UCL include:

Regular funding opportunities 

Grand Challenges Small Grants 

The Small Grants have been part of the Grand Challenges since 2009, the very beginning of the programme. The annual Small Grants call supports grass-roots cross-disciplinary collaborations in all six Grand Challenges. 

The call for 2021/22 is now open.  

Small Grants Awarded

Grand Challenges Doctoral Students Small Grants 

The scheme, a collaboration with UCL Doctoral School, offers awards of up to £2,000 for doctoral students from different faculties for research-informed, societally relevant, cross-disciplinary activities.

The call for 2020/21 is now closed.

Doctoral School Awards

French Embassy Funded Collaborative Science & Technology Workshops 

Funding from the French Embassy's Department of Science & Technology for UCL researchers to organise workshops in collaboration with research institutions in France. The most recent call made £20,000 available for up to five workshops.

The call for 2018/19 is now closed.

French Embassy Funding


Adolescent Lives

Adolescent Lives was the pan-Grand Challenges mega-theme for 2017-18. Two tiers of funding (up to £3,000, and up to £10,000) were available for UCL researchers (including doctoral students) to address the following questions:

How can adolescence be defined?—How is it used and what does it mean to young people?

Youth Prospects—What barriers are young people facing? What are their thoughts on isolated and interconnected local to global issues? What are the best ways to support them in amplifying their opinions?

Youth IdentitiesHow, and in what ways, do young people define themselves? How are identities created? How is identity and selfhood fluid?

This call closed in January 2018 and supported work in academic year 2017/18. More information and a list of the successful projects can be accessed here.

Society's Response to Ageing

Researchers based at UCL were invited to submit proposals for events that addressed 'Society's Response to Ageing'. This pan-Grand Challenges initiative provided six grants, one for each Grand Challenge, of up to £2,500.

A major report, based on the insights from the events, will be presented at a UCL-Japan Embassy symposium on the Super-Ageing Society, to be held in 2018/19.

This call closed in January 2018 and supported work in academic year 2017/18

UCL-HKU Partnership Awards

UCL Grand Challenges, in partnership with the UCL Global Engagement Office, connects UCL researchers with the Hong Kong University (HKU) Strategic Partnerships Fund. The awards supported cross-disciplinary research collaborations between UCL and HKU, part of a new inter-institutional partnership with HKU. The funded research addressed global challenges, particularly issues affecting Hong Kong and its region of Asia. 

Successful UCL applicants received up to £10k, with their HKU counterparts receiving up to HK$100k

Previous UCL-HKU Awards

Grand Challenges UCL 2034 Grants

In 2017, we awarded eight grants to projects aligned to UCL 2034, the University's 20-year strategy, aimed at steering UCL towards its vision.

This was a one-off funding call, making eight awards in 2017. A list of the awards can be accessed here

Special Initiative Funding 2020/21: Place, Age, and the UN SDGs

The call for funding under the themes of 'Place: Equality & Prosperity', 'Age & Society: Life through Generations', and 'UN SDGs: Pathways to Achievement' is now closed.

Place: Equality & Prosperity

Experiences of inequalities are inextricably intertwined with place. The COVID-19 pandemic has starkly highlighted – and exacerbated - heath, economic, educational, and social inequalities. When examining such societal inequities and as we look toward ‘building forward better’, the special initiative of Place: Equality & Prosperity will support projects that adopt a place based lens to allow for sharper focus on the intersection of geographies with wider structural disadvantages.

Age & Society: Life through Generations

Age is a critical lens through which to understand the complexity of our societies, and to ensure their sustainable and equitable development. This special initiative aims to support collaborations addressing the relationship between the life course and individual experiences of life and wellbeing, and examining issues relating to Age in a wider social, political, and economic context.

UN SDGs: Pathways to Achievement

In partnership with UCL's Global Engagement Office and using insights from interventions in Sessions 1, 11 and 12 of the UCL SDGs conference, Beyond Boundaries, this special initiative focuses on achievement of goal targets within the framings of Wellbeing, Infrastructure, and Natural Environment.

Green Recovery from COVID-19

The global coronavirus pandemic exists alongside overwhelming environmental threats: including climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. As governments begin to think about COVID-19 recovery and management, there is an opportunity to deliver transformational change worldwide, which could include a transition towards a sustainable society.

In partnership with the UCL Environment Domain, we are looking for innovative cross-disciplinary partnerships that address the challenges of a green recovery from COVID-19.