Wednesday 20 August 2014


A joint programme of the UK and US governments is bringing research teams across the world together to tackle some of the biggest global challenges in sustainable energy, urban development, food security and health.  The Global Innovation Initiative awarded grants to 23 partnerships in the first round of funding and has announced that the application for the second round of funding will open on 18 August 2014.

Grants will be awarded to partnerships between teams of researchers at universities in the US, UK and a designated other country (Brazil, China, India or Indonesia). The funds will support science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) research in the following areas: energy, environment and climate change; urban development; agriculture, food security and water; and global health.   

The programme aims to raise the bar for international collaboration while developing a new cadre of globally-savvy academics. It will support research into global challenges, strengthen cooperation between higher education institutions, and show the benefits of multilateral partnerships. 

In the first round, 23 multilateral research partnerships received a total of £3 million ($5.1 million) for projects including: 

• Scientists in the UK, US and China are using the echolocation process used by bats and dolphins to develop a device for blind people that will improve their independence in daily life through enhanced spatial sensing.

• Researchers from the US, UK and Indonesia are examining Indonesia’s booming aquaculture industry and ways to mitigate the detrimental effects of waste materials on the local ecology.

• Specialists from the US, UK and India will use rapid crowdsourcing to monitor access to safe drinking water in India and estimate village-scale drinking water risks.

• Experts from the UK, US and Brazil are addressing infectious diseases by looking into how land use change affects biodiversity and vector-borne diseases.

For the second round, two new parallel competitions will be conducted in the UK and the US.  UK-led partnerships may apply through the British Council for grants ranging from £100,000 - £150,000.  US-led partnerships may apply for grants ranging from $100,000 - $200,000 through the Institute of International Education. For further application information, please visit 

The Global Innovation Initiative was announced by US Secretary of State John Kerry and former UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, and formally launched in October 2013 by Rt Hon. David Willetts MP. The initiative is funded by the British Council, the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills and the U.S. Department of State.  The British Council administers the programme in the UK and the Institute of International Education administers the programme in the U.S. on the behalf the U.S. Department of State. 

The Global Innovation Initiative was created to support multilateral research collaboration to address global challenges, in keeping with the vision of UK Prime Minister David Cameron and U.S. President Barack Obama’s joint statements in 2011 and 2012. 

Martin Davidson, CEO British Council, said that “our Researcher Links programme is an example of the power of bilateral relationships within higher education.  Adding in a third element will have a multiplier effect – creating the kind of innovation we will need if we’re to think our way out of some of our most intractable problems.  It’s a win-win-win situation.  Critical thought, academic freedom, and excellence in scholarship are the hallmarks of the British and American higher education systems.  These are the strengths this project aims to share with universities in the developing world.  The Global Innovation Initiative will allow our nations to pool and extend our networks of friendship and history for mutual benefit.”

Evan Ryan, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, stated, “The U.S. and UK share a long and rich history of higher education collaboration, and both countries have also benefitted from partnering individually with counterparts in Brazil, India, Indonesia and China. The Global Innovation Initiative will foster new multilateral partnerships in the conviction that major global issues such as climate change, food security, urbanization, and public health require expertise from and collaboration among these key countries.”

More information about the competition can be found on our international higher education pages:

Notes to Editor

For more information, contact:

British Council USA: Alexandra Dimsdale, Press and Communications, 

British Council: Kristen McNicoll, Press, 

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