UCL Grand Challenges


UCL-led projects awarded more than £141,000 to generate societal impact

16 February 2022

UCL Grand Challenges Special Initiatives have awarded £141,985.53 to innovative, cross-disciplinary activities.

A graphic of a man standing on a globe

The grants provide funding to researchers from across UCL’s 11 faculties who are generating societal impact. The funding supports their projects addressing the themes of ‘SDGs: Pathways to Achievement', 'Place: Prosperity & Equality', ' Intergenerational Dynamics' or 'Climate Emergency'.

Recipients of previous Grand Challenges Special Initiatives have demonstrated considerable impact. The grants recently funded a collaborative public heritage project re-evaluating built environment in Manchester in light of historical relationships with enslavement and colonisation. Another project, “Parliament Buildings: The architecture of power, accountability and democracy in Europe” built a critical platform to examine how parliament buildings across Europe shape national identities.

Dr James Paskins, Deputy Director for UCL’s Grand Challenges programme, said “We had a fantastic response to our call for contributions, I am always impressed by both the breadth of expertise at UCL and the willingness of the community to work together to address important societal questions. I look forward to seeing how the projects develop and the impacts they will have.” 

UN SDGs: Pathways to Achievement

UCL Grand Challenges and UCL Global Engagement in partnership with the UCL SDGs Initiative. 

Leaving No One Behind, Whatever Language they Speak: The Language Data Initiative (£9,900.15) - Professor Federico M. Federici, Centre for Translation Studies, CMII, SELCS (Arts & Humanities) and Mr Jason Symons, LEAR Global

Unravelling the socio-economic inequalities in grassroot physical activity in England (£5,500) - Dr Francesco Salustri, Institute for Global Health (Population Health Sciences) and Dr Paolo Candio, University of Birmingham

Advancing and sustaining progress towards UN SDGs in African drylands – crossing disciplinary and international boundaries (£9,842) - Professor Richard Taylor, Geography (Social & Historical Sciences) and Dr Mohammad Shamsudduha, IRDR (Mathematical & Physical Sciences)

Digging for SDGs: Laying Foundations for Sustainability in the Higher Education Sector (£9,568.40) - Professoressor Jane Holder, Laws (Laws) and Mr John Dubber, Students' Union (Laws)  

Promoting healthcare innovation with a “Dragon’s Den”-style competition through a virtual innovation platform. (£4,975.54) - Professor Mark Miodownik, Mechanical Engineering (Engineering Sciences) and Dr Ana Rita Pinho, Mechanical Engineering (Engineering Sciences)

Climate Emergency

UCL Grand Challenges 2021-22 Special Initiative run in collaboration with UCL Environment Domain. 

Case study research exploring the variation of secondary schools' engagement with climate change and sustainability education in England (£10,000) - Professor Nicola Walshe, Department of Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment (Institute of Education) and Dr Kris de Meyer, King's College London 

COPS:  A ComPlex Systems approach to peri-urban development for climate resilience and just futures in the Global South (£9,967.00) - Dr Lakshmi Rajendran, The Bartlett School of Architecture (Bartlett) and Dr Raul Leal, UCL Department of Space and Climate Physic (Mathematical & Physical Sciences)

UCL Team Glasgow - post COP26 moving towards COP27 with a low carbon footprint (£10,000) - Dr Priti Parikh, BSSC (Bartlett) and Professor Mark Maslin, Geography (Social & Historical Sciences)    

Climate change and adverse pregnancy outcomes: a data-driven global-scale investigation (GESTATION) (£19,345.73) - Dr Mohammad Shamsudduha, Insitute for Risk and Disaster Reduction (Mathematical & Physical Sciences) and
Dr Anwar Musah, Geography (Social & Historical Sciences)

A global economy that works for people and the planet - how do we get there? (£4842.71) - Dr Tom Pegram, Political Science (Social & Historical Sciences) and Dr Nick Hughes, Bartlett School Environment, Energy & Resources (Bartlett)

Place: Equality & Prosperity

UCL Grand Challenges 2021-22 Special Initiative.

Urban Prosperity: towards new concepts, methods, and pathways to impact for place-based flourishing in cities (£9,607)  - Dr Hanna Baumann, Institute for Global Prosperity (Bartlett) and Dr Emmanuel Osuteye, Development Planning Unit (Bartlett)

Connecting Digital Inequalities and Rural Poverty: The Case of Somaliland (£10,000) - Dr Amina-Bahja Ekman, Development Planning Unit (Bartlett) and Dr Giorgio Talocci, Development Planning Unit (Bartlett)

Who is lonely where? Co-producing a systematic review on place-based factors and loneliness (£8,600) - Professor  Helene Joffe, Psychology & Language Sciences (Brain Sciences ) and Dr Gemma Moore, Institute of Environmental Design and Engineering (Bartlett)

Intergenerational Dynamics

UCL Grand Challenges 2021-22 Special Initiative. 

To be annouced.