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Early Childhood Development funding call

Early Childhood Development funding call

The British Academy has launched a new, competitive research funding call, the Early Childhood Development Programme, as part of the £1.5 billion Global Challenges Research Fund and in partnership with the Department for International Development (DfID).


The purpose of this interdisciplinary research programme is to fund the evidence that will inform the policies and interventions that will transform the life chances and destinies of children in their early years in lower- and middle-income countries. This Scheme will allow UK and overseas researchers, working with their partners in the Global South where relevant, to undertake projects to deliver research excellence with development impact. Research will be problem-focused and interdisciplinary, bringing together relevant disciplines to tackle the problem for maximum impact. Projects will need to demonstrate an innovative and interdisciplinary approach yielding new conceptual understanding in the field of early childhood development.


Strengthening early childhood development is central to achieving at least seven of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG Target 4.2, which states that by 2030 countries should ‘ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education’. To achieve these goals, there needs to be a step change in early childhood development research and policy action that drives interaction and cross-learning between disciplines, sectors and actors. This joined-up approach has been lacking, as noted in the recent Lancet series on early childhood development. This programme is intended as the foundation for a wider research programme in subsequent years and thus aims to support a new generation of interlinked research and policy intervention that focuses on what works at scale in different contexts whilst building, and working with, local capacity to deliver effective research and change.

Research will be problem-focused and interdisciplinary, bringing together relevant disciplines to tackle the problem for maximum impact. It is envisaged that small teams, with different disciplinary backgrounds in the humanities, social sciences, and scientific and medical disciplines, with expertise in areas such as psychology, neuroscience, education, health, nutrition, and social protection, and using a broad range of different methodological approaches, will apply for funding.

The Early Childhood Development Programme will focus in particular on:

  1. supporting innovative interdisciplinary research projects and partnerships, including with practitioners;
  2. advancing cross learning between disciplines and building our understanding of how existing interventions contribute to child development outcomes;
  3. addressing key questions around how to implement and scale cost-effective early childhood development, including how to work with government systems where appropriate;
  4. expanding the research base in countries and populations with high unmet need and low research capacity.


The Early Childhood Development Programme is open to researchers based at UK and overseas institutions. The main applicant must be based at a university or research institute and be of postdoctoral or above equivalent status. The applicant must either be in a permanent position at the institution or have a fixed-term position for the duration of the award. Co-applicants must also be of postdoctoral or above equivalent status.


Projects must be up to 18 months in duration, with a maximum value of £350,000. Projects will start in September 2017.


The Early Childhood Development Programme falls under the Global Challenges Research Fund and therefore must fund only ODA-eligible projects. Only research that has a primary objective which is directly and primarily relevant to the problems of developing countries may be counted as ODA. We will require applicants to demonstrate that the proposal is ODA eligible. ODA eligibility is an essential criterion – projects will only be deemed eligible for funding if they can demonstrate that they satisfy ODA eligibility criteria.


Applications must be submitted online using the British Academy’s online grant application system, Flexi-Grant. All applicants must register with the British Academy’s Flexi-Grant system to enable the processing and assessment of their application.

Application Deadline: Wednesday 21st June 2017 (1700 UK time)

Host Institution deadline: Thursday 22nd June 2017 (1700 UK time)

Decisions made: August 2017

Awards Start Date: 1-29 September 2017


Please contact or call 020 7969 5220 for further information.