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Researchers with their sights on tackling the world’s biggest problems

25th April 2019

In just under two weeks, academics from ARUA and eight British universities will meet in Ghana with the aim of forging a new chapter in research collaboration.

Researchers will be looking to form partnerships to investigate the big problems facing the world: climate change, water conservation, disease, sustainable food production, the rebuilding of post-conflict societies – to name just a few.

If successful collaborations can be identified, the universities involved would be able to apply for funding through the UK’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). Up to six projects could be awarded as much as £2 million each ($2.6 million USD).

Professor Stuart Taberner, from the University of Leeds who is leading the UK delegation, said: “We are asking researchers to think big and to be ambitious with their ideas.

Professor Stuart Taberner

“The gritty intractable problems facing the world won’t be solved easily, and academics have to come together to share ideas and build on each other’s strengths, and that is the aim of the meeting between ARUA and the British universities.

“There are centres of research excellence across Africa and so there is a very strong incentive to seek out research partners on the continent.”

The eight British universities attending the event are based in the North of England and are known as the N8 Research Partnership (N8).

Nick Goldspink, research partnership manager at N8, said: “We’re excited to be sending a team of experts from the N8 network to meet with our international counterparts in Africa as we look to build important relationships and explore new avenues for global collaboration.”

In late 2018, UK Research and Innovation, the national funding agency for science and research in the UK, agreed to contribute around £20 million from the Global Challenges Research Fund to provide core funding support to ARUA’s centres of excellence and called for joint projects between ARUA and UK universities.

The Global Challenges Research Fund is a part of the UK aid budget with the aim of applying cutting-edge research to the problems affecting the health and wellbeing of the planet and its population.

Professor Taberner believes the meeting in Ghana will herald a shift in the way UK universities will establish research partnerships in the future. Not only will they be looking to colleagues in Europe, North America, India and China – but also to strengthen research ties with researchers in Africa.

In the lead up to the meeting on May 8th, the ARUA website will bring you more information about the Global Challenges Research Fund, how it works and case studies of projects in Africa that have already started.

One of those case studies will examine a collaboration between weather scientists and operational meteorologists in Africa and the UK to identify ways of more accurately forecasting tropical storms.

You’ll also have a chance to listen to Professor Taberner discuss the GCRF scheme in a podcast.

All the content will be available through the ARUA website over the next week.

For more information, please contact David Lewis, from the University of Leeds, on

Outside the safe park container
Storm clouds forming around Lake Victoria

Top image:
File:Balme Library of University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana.jpg
Rjruiziii [CC BY-SA 3.0 (]