ESRC-DFID Development Frontiers research fund

ESRC and DFID are pleased to announce a third phase of the ESRC-DFID Joint Fund for Poverty Alleviation Research.

In this third phase, we are launching a call for Development Frontiers Research.

Development Frontiers research can be broadly defined as involving pioneering theoretical and methodological innovation, and/or research based on the engagement of a range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives including new links across disciplines that do not usually work together and across non-traditional partnerships. The expectation is that this research will provide a major stimulus to new and novel streams of enquiry or practice.

Characteristics of Development Frontiers research will include the following:

  • Results that will radically change accepted thinking
  • The outcome may be uncertain and the research could lead to unexpected insights
  • The research is potentially higher-risk/higher-reward
  • The research will produce a broad base of knowledge and new thinking/insights likely to contribute towards the solution of recognised or expected current or future problems or possibilities
  • The research is not incremental

Development Frontiers research might also include:

  • Radical ways of giving voices to the poor
  • Novel forms of South-South partnership
  • Early entrant research on emerging issues.

Applications which are not deemed to have the characteristics outlined in the scope of the call will be rejected. Projects with developing country leads and developing country partners are strongly encouraged.


There will be a stage-gating process for the Development Frontiers Research Fund. Projects will initially be funded for 18 months with a stage one budget of up to £100,000. At the end of year one, projects will be invited to bid for a further 18 months of funding up to £200,000 to continue their research.

Initial applications are invited for projects with a FEC value of up to £100,000 and a duration of 18 months.

Deadline for applications: 16.00 UK time on 29 November 2012 

Any applicant(s) and their institutions intending to apply to this call must ensure they are registered with the Joint Electronic Submission System (Je-S). It is essential to allow sufficient time to secure Je-S registration – we strongly recommend that applicants register with Je-S at least four weeks prior to the call deadline, as no exceptions can be made for late submission of applications.

If you and your research organisation are already registered for Je-S, electronic applications can be accessed via the Je-S website.

Further information

See the application instructions for call guidance and details on how to apply.


Please send email queries to or telephone:

  • Mary Day +44 (0)1793 413078
  • Lyndy Griffin +44 (0)1793 413135
  • or +44 (0)1793 413125

We also have a call for outline research grants of between £100,000 to £500,000.