Resource
Updated — August 17, 2023

Research Capacity Strengthening: lessons from UK-funded initiatives in low- and middle-income countries

Good practices  For:FundersResearch institutes

Research Capacity Strengthening (RCS) is essential for developing people and institutions, fostering collaborations, and building supporting infrastructure that enables research actors to thrive. Through responsible funding and evaluation frameworks, inclusive and sustainable research capacity can be built. Recognizing this, in 2022 the UK Collaborative on Development Research (UKCDR) published a report that collates learnings from cross-funder review of UK-funded RCS programs in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The report provides recommendations for UK funders, decision-makers, and practitioners to support effective RCS. The report emphasizes the importance of investing in research and innovation in LMICs to drive progress on global development issues such as climate change, food insecurity, and epidemics.

The report maps UK funders’ investments in RCS in LMICs between 2016 and 2021 and presents insights from these investments via best practice recommendations  for the design, implementation, decision-making and evaluation of RCS funds and programs. Based on stakeholder interviews across various disciplines, a desk-based review, and a learning workshop, the report identified five categories of “enablers” that can support effective RCS. It also provides recommendations for different stages of RCS funding and programming to establish sustainable and impactful RCS investments by UK funders.

Some of the key recommendations include supporting LMIC leadership, responsibly designing funding calls, ensuring review panels are diverse and inclusive, and reflecting on LMIC contexts and priorities in decision-making processes.