What is GCRF Africa Catalyst?

Who can apply?

How do I secure a UK partner and who is eligible to be a UK partner?

I am from an UK organisation and want to be a UK partner - can I be matched with an African collaborator?

How do I apply?

How much funding can I apply for?

What can the funding be used for?

What can the funding NOT be used for?

Further information


What is GCRF Africa Catalyst?

The GCRF Africa Catalyst Programme aims to ensure that there is sufficient, and appropriately skilled, local engineering capacity to participate in and drive local, national and regional development in sub-Saharan Africa. The programme focusses on strengthening Professional Engineering Institutes and other organisations working to ensure appropriate accreditation, professionalism and opportunities for local engineers in Africa.

The Academy is also looking to improve the evidence base for the role robust engineering institutions play in driving development.

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Who can apply?

The lead applicant for the grant must be an appropriate representative of a not-for-profit organisation based in one of the 49 eligible countries*, working together with a named UK partner. All applications are to be submitted by the lead applicant and not by the UK partner, although applications can be co-written. 

UK organisations with registered sub-Saharan branches and local staff are welcome to apply so long as the application is driven by and submitted by the African section.

African Universities may be eligible to apply, although it is encouraged to look at the Academy’s Higher Education Partnership programme (HEP SSA) and consider whether this is a more suitable programme.

For the purposes of the programme, The Academy’s definition of sub-Saharan Africa includes all countries defined by the African Union within Central, East, Southern, and West Africa. These are as follows: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, DR Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

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How do I secure a UK partner and who is eligible to be a UK partner?

The Global Challenges Research Fund encourages UK partner involvement in projects under the fund, where such an arrangement can add value. Close collaboration between organisations in sub-Saharan Africa and the UK will be an integral part of Phase 3. 

The role that the UK partner plays is for the applicants to decide, depending on the challenge to be tackled by the project. The UK partner should add value to the project and be committed to engaging in the activities, and must not be there in name only. 

The UK partner can take many shapes, from a University or an INGO to a consultant or a company, providing that it is a partnership (such as pro-bono training or secondments) and not built on any transactions.

The best way to find a UK partner is to use existing relationships, but in case an applicant lacks the right connections, the Academy can help to make introductions. We do not supply a list of potential partners, but can work with potential applicants to find suitable organisations to work with based on the needs of the proposed project. In order to understand what a potential applicant is looking for from a UK partner, please follow this link to complete an expression of interest form: 

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I am from an UK organisation and want to be a UK partner - can I be matched with an African collaborator?

Through the online Expression of Interest from, UK-based organisations that are keen to engage in the programme but lack the right connections to an African partner can be matched up with potential collaborators. The Royal Academy of Engineering can make introductions so that potential partners on both sides can scope whether the match is right before embarking on an application together.

If you are a UK organisation hoping to be matched with an eligible African partner, please follow this link to submit an expression of interest: 

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How do I apply?

All applications must be submitted through our online grants system. In order to use the system, applicants must first register. For more information, please see How to apply.

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How much funding can I apply for?

There are two grant bands, outlined below: 

  • SMALL GRANTS: For projects between £30,000-70,000 carried out over a maximum of 12 months.
  • LARGE GRANTS: For projects between £80,000-160,000 carried out over a maximum of 18 months.

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What can the funding be used for?

All funds must be used for costs relating to the GCRF Africa Catalyst project, and all costs must be clearly outlined and broken down within the budget template.

The Academy does NOT require any match funding under this programme, and contributing funds to the project will have no weighting in the assessment of proposals.

Full cost recovery for projects is allowed, as long as these are accurate, justified and based on actual figures. Please use the comments section to outline calculations for administration costs, overheads and currency fluctuations, should you wish to include this in the project budget.  

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What can the funding NOT be used for?

The funding cannot be used for activities, staff or travel unrelated to the GCRF Africa Catalyst project. All costs should be clearly outlined in the budget template and any variances must be agreed with the Academy.

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Further information

If you did not find the answer to your question on this page, or want further information please do not hesitate to contact the team: 

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