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Grand Challenges progress report

Grand Challenges Small Grants Scheme

Apply for a Grand Challenges Small Grant

Grand Challenges Small Grants offer:

  • up to £4,000 available for applications led by UCL staff
  • support for a wide range of societally relevant cross-disciplinary activities
  • funding for activities undertaken from 1 August 2014 to 31 July 2015

Application deadline: midnight, Monday 16 June 2014
All applications must be submitted using the online form

Apply for a small grant


Please note:
  • The scheme is not intended for support of studies in basic science, or research that is exclusively lab-based
  • The scheme will pay for activities in the 12 month period 1 August 2014 to 31 July 2015. After 31 July 2015 the award will expire
  • Activities should be completed by 30 September 2015

Grand Challenges: Aims and Objectives 

UCL’s Grand Challenges programme provides institutional encouragement and the means to bring researchers together, from diverse fields of expertise, to address complex problems of societal importance that need, for their better understanding and effective resolution, joined-up thinking from different disciplinary perspectives.

The four Grand Challenges (of Global Health, Sustainable Cities, Intercultural Interaction and Human Wellbeing) support the main objective of UCL’s Research Strategy. This being to establish an environment in which research excellence and leadership is cherished and sustained, different domains of individual expertise are creatively linked through cross-disciplinary collaboration, and where the impact of these activities is encouraged and recognised within and beyond UCL.

Focused on this core strategic objective, the UCL Grand Challenges Small Grants scheme exists to encourage and support cross-disciplinary activity based on scholarly excellence in different fields – between staff in different UCL departments/faculties – with the aim of producing novel insights and impacts (see below) both within our university, and beyond it in wider society.

UCL Grand Challenges is committed to research and actions reducing gender inequality. In order to emphasise this commitment, applications are encouraged that either directly or indirectly bear upon gender and gender inequality concerns.

How we define impact

 ‘Impact’ may be achieved through diverse means, including:

  • scholarly publications
  • developments in teaching
  • knowledge transfer and research translation
  • novel methodologies and techniques
  • new research partnerships
  • outcome of pilot studies as bases for further grant-supported work
  • public engagement
  • community engagement
  • policy engagement
  • international development
  • developments in professional training and practice
  • entrepreneurial initiatives


Eligibility to apply

All applications must be led by First and Second Applicants from different departments whose period of employment will enable them to complete the activities detailed in the key dates 2014/15 section below. They will be expected to have contributed equally to the proposal, and be similarly committed to the delivery of the proposed activity.

  • First Applicant: UCL academic staff (Lecturer level or above)
  • Second Applicant: UCL academic staff (Lecturer level or above) or UCL non-academic staff
  • Additional Collaborator(s) can be from within or beyond UCL (see note 1 below)

We encourage:

  • Applicants who have not worked together previously
  • Applicants who are based in different UCL faculties
  • Applications led by, or involving, early career researchers at UCL (e.g. recently appointed lecturers or Research Council-funded senior fellows) are encouraged
  • Applications involving Arts & Humanities staff

2014/15 Call for applications

In this round, the Small Grants Scheme offers awards up to £4,000 for cross-disciplinary activity under any one of the  UCL Grand Challenges:

GC logos upright Global Health addresses issues of global health equity, preventable disease and social determinants of health to tackle the root causes of health inequality across the world. Previous GCGH Small Grants

Sustainable Cities finds ways to address issues including climate change, food production and economic pressures in order to help our cities become better for the people who live and work in them. Previous GCSC Small Grants

Intercultural Interaction examines the causes and features of social and cultural diversity, considers their implications and devises novel strategies to address them.  Previous GCII Small Grants

Human Wellbeing fosters exciting responses to questions about the nature of being human and the nature of wellbeing. It considers issues such as healthy ageing, behaviour change, and the social and ethical issues raised by advances in medical technology. Previous GCHW Small Grants

Examples of areas of interest

Global Health

  • Infectious diseases
  • Non-communicable diseases
  • Health equity
  • Climate change & Health
  • Public policy and engagement
  • Quality improvement

Related cross-disciplinary platforms: GCGH’s interests intersect with those of the UCL Institute for Health Equity, Environment Domain, Population Health Domain and Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction.

Sustainable Cities

  • Transport and Sustainable Mobility
  • The Healthy City
  • The Cultural City
  • Future Cities
  • London
  • Sustainable Prosperity

Provost cross-disciplinary platforms: GCSC’s interests intersect with those of the UCL Environment Domain, Urban Laboratory, Institute for Risk & Disaster Reduction, UCL Energy Institute and the Institute for Sustainable Resources.

Intercultural Interaction

  • Empathy
  • Cosmology
  • Culture & Health
  • Religion & Society
  • Migration
  • Dynamics of Civilisation
  • Transnational History
  • Early Modern Exchanges
  • Translation
  • Human Rights

Related cross-disciplinary platforms: GCII’s interests intersect with those of the UCL European Institute, Institute for Human Rights, Centre for Transnational HistoryCentre for Research into the Dynamics of Civilisation  and the Centre for Digital Humanities.

Human Wellbeing

  • Active and Healthy Ageing
  • Intergenerational Equity
  • Physical and Mental Health
  • Decisions Making and Prosperity
  • Behaviour Change
  • Future Scenarios
  • Medical Technologies (social, ethical and legal aspects)

Related cross-disciplinary platforms: GCHW’s interests intersect with those of the UCL Institute for Health Equity, Institute of Mental Health, Centre for the Study of Decision-Making Uncertainty, Centre for Behaviour Change, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration and the Science Medicine & Society Network

Cross-cutting interests

  • Evidence in policy
  • Education
  • Capacity building
  • Public and cultural engagement
  • Public policy
  • Gender and gender inequality concerns


Key dates 2014/15

14 April 2014 Launch of Small Grants Scheme
Midnight, 16 June 2014 Deadline for applications
Week beginning 7th July 2014 Successful applications announced
30 September 2014 First applicant provides departmental account code for transfer of award
31 July 2015 Funds expire
End of September 2015 Completion of activities
April 2016 Completion of initial Impacts Report

Apply for a small grant


What kinds of activities does the scheme support?

Typically funding can be for (but not limited to):

  • conferences, seminars, workshops, symposia or public engagement activities (including performance-based or art installations)
  • a specific project, e.g. a pilot study or development of an application for the funding of a major research project, which may require research assistant time (N.B. HEFCE staff cost replacement is not eligible)
  • collaborative activities undertaken during a sabbatical period spent at UCL

What is not supported by the scheme?

  • Studies in basic science or research that is exclusively lab-based
  • Where the main purpose of the application is to attend an overseas conference
  • Article processing charges
  • Activities which will incur costs after 31 July 2015
  • Use of awarded funds cannot be deferred to a later period
  • Extension of previous small grants activity
  • HEFCE staff cost replacement

Reporting requirements

  • Award recipients will be asked to complete an initial Impacts Report record in April 2016, which can be supplemented on an on-going basis
  • Award recipients will be invited to create posters covering their work for inclusion in annual Grand Challenge showcase events

Further notes on eligibility

  1. Applications may include, as Additional Collaborators:

    • other UCL academic or non-academic staff or students (undergraduate or postgraduate)
    • UCL post-doctoral research assistants and associates
    • academic partners (at other UK or overseas universities)
    • a collaborator based at an institution with which UCL has a major strategic link, e.g. the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Institute of Education, Institute of Zoology, Yale University, the Max Planck Society, INSERM
    • external non-academic partners (e.g. a non-governmental or community-based organisations, private or public sector organisations)
  2. Funds may be used to meet staff costs or salaries (but not to replace UCL HEFCE staff costs/salaries, or to pay bench fees)

Administrative details

Application forms must be completed in full using the online form. Submission will require tick-box acceptance of the following conditions:

  • I have read the guidance notes.
  • I meet the eligibility criteria.
  • I understand it will not be possible to give detailed individual feedback to unsuccessful applicants
  • If successful, I, or my Financial Administrator, will forward a Source One Account Code to the Grand Challenges office by 30 September 2014 so that the necessary transfer of funds can be made. [If an Account Code has not been received by this date, it will be assumed that you do not wish to proceed with the activities described in your application.]
  • I understand that allocated funds will expire immediately after 31 July 2015. I understand that costs associated with my application will be met by this date, that the Grand Challenges office cannot meet costs incurred after this date, and that the use of awarded funds cannot be deferred to a later period.
  • I understand that the Grand Challenges office cannot manage awarded funds on my behalf, and that this will be the responsibility of the department that receives the funds.
  • I understand that activities should be completed by 30 September 2015
  • If successful, I understand that I will be expected to submit an initial Impact Report in April 2016.
  • If successful, I understand that I will be expected to acknowledge the support that I have received from Grand Challenges in promotional materials related to the supported activities, and in attributable publications

Once an application has been submitted you will receive automatic email confirmation. If you do not receive confirmation please contact James Paskins (j.paskins@ucl.ac.uk / 020 7679 4818) or Michael Reade (m.reade@ucl.ac.uk / 020 7679 8713), or one of the contacts given at the bottom of this page.

Applications will be assessed by panels comprising staff of Office of the Vice-Provost (Research) and representatives from the UCL Grand Challenge Executive Group or Steering Group.


We welcome questions about small grants applications, if you have anything you would like to discuss please get in touch with one of the coordinators.


Apply for a small grant

Page last modified on 11 apr 14 13:56