I’ve been leading the five year evaluation of GCRF since 2020. It’s a very large and complex research fund that supports cutting-edge research and innovation to address challenges faced by developing countries. It is part of the UK’s official development assistance (ODA) and is managed by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The fund aims to deliver excellent research with development impact, making practical contributions on the global effort to address the United Nations’ sustainable development goals (SDGs). GCRF aims to maximise the impact of research and innovation to improve lives and opportunity in the developing world.

Three girls stand in doorway after attending a community research feedback event, in Mus Kamp, Afar Region, Ethiopia, 2018. 
Photo credit: Jennifer Leavy, 2018

GRCF is delivered by 17 of the UK’s research and innovation funders, making it a complicated evaluation, to say the least. I’m proud to work alongside a talented international team of evaluators from Itad, Rand Europe, NirasLTS, AFIDEP and Athena Infonomics. We’ve also done some exciting data science work with our partner, Digital Science, mapping GCRF’s global footprint of projects and outputs.

In the first year, we looked at the foundations for achieving development impact across the fund, addressed through four evaluation modules: management; relevance and coherence; fairness; and gender, social inclusion and poverty (GESIP). I’m pleased to announce that our evaluation reports from the first year have now been published by BEIS, and are available to download.

Overall, the Stage 1a evaluation found that GCRF is making clear progress in terms of establishing the foundations for development impact – becoming relevant, coherent, well-targeted, fair, gender sensitive and socially inclusive. Strengths were seen especially in GCRF’s flagship programmes. However, inherent challenges in the fund’s size and complicated delivery architecture meant that progress has been varied across the portfolio, and important gaps remain, especially around managing for development impact and how poverty is addressed. 

We are now well into the second year of the evaluation, looking at GCRF’s flagship programmes. Although GCRF has been challenged by the Covid-19 pandemic and its various impacts, we are beginning to map what has been achieved across this fascinating portfolio of research and innovation for development.