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Research Development Fund

The Research Development Fund (RDF) offers grants for selected international research collaborations which demonstrate potential to become self-sustaining by securing external funding.

The RDF provides grants worth up to £10,000 each to develop research collaborations which must fit within one of the four WUN Global Challenges. The development of research on the Global Challenges is supported by four Steering Groups, and by four cross-cutting groups that support, promote and enable a focus on Africa and China and underpinning investigations on big data and economics. The RDF provides one year of seed funding with the firm expectation that projects will result in academic publications, policy impact and sustainability through securing funding from external sources.

RDF Global Challenges and priorities (2019)

Global Challenges

  • Responding to Climate Change
  • Public Health (Non-communicable disease)
  • Global Higher Education and Research
  • Understanding Cultures

see WUN website for full description of WUN Global Challenges

UN Goals

As part of the WUN Strategic Plan 2017-2020, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals will inform research priorities within the WUN Global Challenge framework. A clear articulation of how the proposal aligns with one or more relevant United Nations Sustainable Development Goals within the context of the WUN Global Challenge(s) will be seen as a distinct advantage.


A clear articulation of how the proposal aligns with the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) challenge areas will also be seen as a distinct advantage.

RDF Project Guidelines

See WUN website for full description of WUN project guidelines

Programs must engage at least three WUN member universities and should span at least two countries. The collaboration can include non-WUN universities and external partners but must have an active core of WUN member universities. In the spirit of the network, activities organised through the programs should be open to all WUN members. It is a priority for WUN to engage newer members in the RDF.

Applications must commit matching cash support (total sum) by the partner institutions to equal or greater value of the amount requested. Salary payments of existing research staff will not be accepted as matching cash support.

Local RDF awards are conditional on the success of the central WUN RDF bid.

At the University of Sheffield, priority will be given to RDF applications including the following institutions: Renmin University of China, The University of Alberta, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (Brazil), The University of Ghana and Tec de Monterrey (Mexico)

RDF Application Process

See WUN website for full description of WUN application guidelines

  • Each WUN partner university can submit a maximum of two proposals as PI.
  • All applications will go through a two-stage assessment process. They are assessed and prioritised initially by an internal panel at Sheffield, who then submit the successful proposals to a central WUN selection committee.
  • PLEASE NOTE: Whether you are applying to lead a project as PI or participate in another WUN partner's bid as Co-I, please contact the WUN Coordinator Danielle Bertrand to discuss the application in advance. Colleagues are required to submit all funding support requests to the Global Engagement prior to the internal deadline. Failure to do so may mean that financial support cannot be provided.

Letter of Intent (LOI)

1. Sheffield operates an internal shortlisting process before inviting successful LOIs to submit full proposals. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that applicants discuss their proposals with the WUN Coordinator and their Faculty International Leads before completing this application.
2. Please read the guidelines carefully before submission.
3. Please provide all of the requested information, and ensure that your application is submitted before the closing date.

2019 Key Dates:

Closing date for academics to submit LOI proposals to International Partnerships for review by Steering Committee Friday 13 September 2019
Successful applicants (maximum of two) invited to submit full RDF proposal Wednesday 25 September 2019
Full RDF proposal to be submitted by academics to International Partnerships Monday 21 October 2019
WUN Central deadline Thursday 31 October 2019

For LOI guidelines, application forms and other relevant documents, please see the downloads menu.