International opportunities

Investing in International Collaboration

Many of the challenges the UK faces are shared across the planet. Research is therefore a global endeavour. We believe that cross-border collaboration:

  • increases the range, quality and impact of our investment
  • provides opportunities to share complementary expertise and facilities and
  • inspires new challenges and routes for impact.

The UK has a successful track-record of active collaboration with researchers worldwide. We will ensure that UK researchers have appropriate opportunities to collaborate with the best partners globally. Our proactive international engagement will continue to focus on Europe, USA, Japan, China and India. Broadly, our targeted international activities have one of two aims: to simplify or enhance connections with those nations which have a strong history of collaboration, or to facilitate partnership with those nations which are rapidly growing their research activity.

The research component of these partnerships must always be clear: they must foster excellent research, building collaboration between the best researchers in the UK and those overseas. In an environment of competing priorities, proposals must also be equitable in terms of the outcomes accruing to the UK as well as partners. Building on our established facilitation role, we will engender links across the relevant agencies, building a more joined-up UK international policy, and seek to maximise collaboration from synergy between UK activities and those bodies' existing activities.

Maximising our contribution to international development

Whilst our portfolio of investments is primarily targeted at delivering outcomes for UK benefit, it is clear that some aspects of the research we support may be expanded to address challenges of primary relevance to lower income countries.

Under the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) we will work in partnership with our sister Research Councils, other partners and the research communities to develop interdisciplinary research and training programmes which contribute to the UK's commitment to Official Development Assistance (ODA) and also contribute to the United Nations' (UN) sustainable development goals.

For EPSRC's allocation of funding under the GCRF in 2016/17, we have awarded one year institutional sponsorship grants to those universities who hold the largest research portfolios based on current grant income. 35 Universities have been awarded a grant with a fixed end date of 31 March 2017 for pump-priming research projects or impact acceleration activities which are ODA compliant. For the budget available in future years EPSRC expects to allocate the funding through calls for proposals in ODA compliant areas. We are currently scoping potential areas: ideas for topics are welcome, to For most use, ideas for topics need to be submitted by 25th July 2016.

Under the Newton Fund we will continue to prioritise partnerships with China and India, where we have extensive ongoing collaborations. In this Delivery Plan period we will continue our programme of joint activities in sustainable energy, as well as exploring opportunities in other ODA-compliant areas, for example water engineering.

Expected outcomes include the UK research base remaining connected to the best researchers globally, and an increased portfolio of research addressing international development goals.