What is ODA?

Opportunities for research grant funds are diversifying beyond traditional Research Council routes and are becoming increasingly internationally and globally focussed in scope.  In the UK, such funding forms part of the Government’s International Aid Strategy, as proposed in the 2015 spending review.  Research funds under this heading are most commonly awarded via the Newton Fund and the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).  And because such grants represent foreign aid, there is an explicit requirement that research projects must address the economic development and social welfare of the target country, otherwise known as ODA (Official Development Assistance).  In line with the overall principle of ODA, a 2015 report from the Department of International Development highlighted the four key strategic objectives to fall under this overarching heading:

  • Strengthening global peace, security and governance
  • Strengthening resilience and response to crises
  • Promoting global prosperity
  • Tackling extreme poverty and helping the world’s most vulnerable


Which countries are ODA compliant?

For the Global Challenges Research Fund, the DAC list of ODA Recipients shows all countries and territories eligible to receive funding.  This list is revised every three years, though, and any countries that have exceeded the high-income threshold for three consecutive years will be removed. (Next review due 2017)

The Newton Fund partners with a smaller concentration of specific countries depending on development priorities.  At present, these are:  Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, South Africa and wider Africa, Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam.




Is my research ODA compliant?

In developing proposals for the Newton Fund or the GCRF, consider the following questions which will help you to ensure ODA compliance:

  • Does my research address an evidenced in-country need? (Remember, this in-country need should inform the overall design and aims of the research, and must not be an afterthought, added to the proposal in the latter stages).
  • Can I provide evidence of this need? (Academic literature, Government objectives, UN Sustainable Development Goals).
  • Will research into the in-country need have a direct impact on the country’s economic growth/social welfare?
  • Will my research provide capacity building which will help improve the country’s ability of undertaking such research in the future?
  • Do my non-academic collaborators include policymakers, influencers and individuals with mandates for change, thus extending the potential effects of impact?
  • Do I have a short and long-term plan for impact dissemination to maximise engagement and reach in the target country?




Applications being reviewed for the Newton Fund and GCRF will be assessed with ODA eligibility being a criterion for approval, i.e projects will initially be screened on these requirements and may be rejected if ODA is not evidenced.  For this reason, it is crucial that the above questions are given thought before starting an application.  If you are unsure on any aspect of ODA compliance, or require clarification on any of the aforementioned, then please contact Piers McEwan (piers.mcewan@port.ac.uk), Grants Officer in Research and Innovation Services, for advice.