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BBSRC GCRF Strategic Training Awards for Research Skills (GCRF-STARS)

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Open funding call

For the current open call, please see: BBSRC GCRF Strategic Training Awards for Research Skills (GCRF-STARS).

Call status: Closed
Previous call: 18 September 2017 - 1 November 2017


The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) is a £1.5 billion fund announced by the UK government to support cutting-edge research that addresses the challenges faced by developing countries. The fund will address global challenges through disciplinary and interdisciplinary research, strengthen capability for research and innovation, both within the UK and developing countries and provide an agile response to emergencies and opportunities.

The GCRF-STARS call aims to build a portfolio of sustainable and timely training resources to up-skill and develop researchers, graduate students and DAC citizens, in research priority areas, in the UK and developing countries with the research skills required to help tackle global challenges.

Applications must emphasise the specific global challenge of relevance to GCRF that they will be working in. We welcome applications for support of any research capability within our remit, but particularly those highlighted as targets that are priorities for developing countries such as:

  • Secure and resilient food systems
  • Sustainable health and wellbeing
  • Affordable and sustainable energy
  • Sustainable livelihoods, economic growth through the circular bioeconomy
  • Resilience and environmental change
  • Sustainable production and consumption
  • Prevention of diseases in humans and farm animals relevant to the developing country
  • Prevention of crop disease in varieties grown in/developed for developing countries.

Research funded through GCRF calls will form part of the UK’s Official Development Assistance (ODA). Therefore, any project submitted to the call should clearly demonstrate its primary purpose is to promote the economic development and welfare of Low and/or Middle Income Countries (LMICs) on the DAC list of ODA recipients as its main objective. GCRF-STARS applications should be co-created and delivered through training partnerships between the UK partner and organisations from developing countries on the DAC List (see external links). Training may take place in the UK, the developing country, or both with the exception of Research Experience Placements (REPs) which should take place in the UK only.

Applications should include a letter from the developing country partner that describes the skills gap/training opportunity and how the collaboration would be beneficial to researchers in that country.

Delivery of training may be achieved by one or more of the following methods:

  • Research Experience Placements
  • Skills schools
  • Other mechanisms such as development of e-learning modules or other online courses.

The following delivery mechanisms are excluded from the GCRF-STARS programme:

  • Full or partial PhD studentships
  • Full or partial MSc/MRes studentships: in line with other research councils, we do not provide funding for stand-alone Masters training grants
  • Conference attendance/travel bursaries: these are included within PhD studentships and research grants.


A total of up to £300,000 per annum is available to support the training activities through this programme. Applications may seek funding for up to £100,000 (at 100% fEC). Awards are flexible and may be used to support strategic global challenges for a short, discrete period or for up to three years of recurrent funding.

Directly allocated staff time, estate and indirect costs will not be covered. We will contribute towards the costs of external speakers, room bookings, time spent organising the training and other reasonable costs providing justification of resources has been received.

Successful grants should start before 15 February 2018; this is a condition of award.

How to apply

This call is closed to applications.

Further information about the GCRF-STARS programme and full details of how to apply can be found in the information pack and Je-S help text.

Applications must be made through the Je-S system. Please refer to the detailed ‘Je-S help text’ application download for help with the application form.

Important: applicants should ensure applications are submitted to their institution’s submitter/approval pool a minimum of five working days in advance of the published deadline. This enables institution checks to be carried out before final submissions.

Applications must be submitted using the document templates available below. Failure to use the templates will result in the application being withdrawn.

Applications must be received by 16:00 on the application deadline specified. Late applications will not be accepted.

Je-S system queries

For queries using Je-S, the helpdesk can be contacted Monday to Thursday 08:30-17:00 and Fridays 08:30-16:30 UK time (excluding bank holidays and other holidays) by email: or tel: 01793 444164 (out of hours please leave a voicemail message).

Please provide:

  • Your name, organisation and user ID
  • Date and time
  • Which part of the form or system you were working on
  • The nature of the problem.


Successful applicants will be required to submit a report on completion of the training.

Related calls: GCRF multidisciplinary innovation food crops