Programme Guidelines

The eighth Initiator Fund call and seventh Accelerator Fund call under this programme is now closed. The date of the next Building Communities call is to be confirmed.


In establishing the Building Communities programme we aim to enable new, high-quality GW4 research communities or for existing high quality collaborations to enhance their scope. These communities can be in any area of academia with the purpose of addressing a major research or societal challenge, and could include underpinning of regional research infrastructure. GW4 is funding a building communities programme which will select and support a number of GW4 communities, based on open competition.


Next round (TBC): Global Challenges Research Fund and Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund focus

We anticipate a further round of funding, the date of which is to be confirmed. This will continue to focus on ODA compliancy and GCRF priorities but will expect Initiator applications in particular, to match to the new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF).

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  • To support enabling activities that bring together communities of academic staff with excellent and complementary expertise and capability
  • To address research questions with potential for high impact that could not be carried out by any single institution
  • To facilitate exploration of novel research concepts to a point at which significant external funding can be sought
  • To promote and facilitate ground breaking interdisciplinary research
  • To demonstrate clearly the added value of the GW4 collaboration

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The GW4 Building Communities Programme consists of two funds:

  • Initiator Fund: This funding can be used for workshops, sandpits or other community building or collaborative activities. This can be used as a stand- alone award or could be a step towards other funding sources.
  • Accelerator Fund: This funding is for collaborative pump priming activities which will normally position the community to win major external funding and/or measures of academic esteem. Applicants for the Accelerator Fund will either have successfully completed the Initiator stage or provided evidence of recent activities that have enabled the scoping of research ideas to a level appropriate for direct submission to the Accelerator Fund.

Research communities may apply from any area of academic endeavour, including the arts, humanities, social science, experimental and theoretical science, engineering and medicine. We explicitly encourage interdisciplinarity.

A GW4 research community should involve at least three GW4 institutions, with communities involving all four partners preferred. Where less than four are involved this will need to be justified.

Each application will need to articulate the added value of working across GW4. This may be in terms of capacity and capability building, complementarity or synergy of expertise, new interdisciplinary groupings, academic endeavours and the ability to attract external funding.

Both Accelerator and Initiator applications will be expected to adhere to both the existing Building Communities Fund criteria as well as focusing their efforts on Official Development Assistance (ODA) compliant activity to enable communities to develop in line with the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) priorities.

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Grand Challenges

All applications must be a strategic fit to a broad grand challenge area. We have identified a number of these challenges below that we believe GW4 is well placed to address. Whilst this is not a prescriptive list, and bids from other areas are welcomed, all bids must provide a clear articulation of the challenge and how the project will enable them to address research funding opportunities they have identified

  1. Health, demographic change and wellbeing
  2. Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research, and the bioeconomy
  3. Secure, clean and efficient energy
  4. Smart, green and integrated transport
  5. Climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials
  6. Inclusive, innovative and reflective societies
  7. Secure societies – protecting freedom and security of nations, society and citizens
  8. Living in a digital world
  9. Advanced Materials
  10. Social justice and inequality, local and global

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All funded communities will be expected to provide a brief final report proportionate to their stage and scale. They will also be expected to participate in evaluations and updates, and promotional and communication events, as appropriate.

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Application Process

The latest Building Communities Call is now closed. For future calls, all lead applicants are expected to speak to their University Research Support Team in advance of applying. Applicants are to complete either GW4 IF8 Application Form Feb2017, and to submit this to, or the GW4 AF7 Application Form Feb 2017, and to submit this to
Applications will then be considered by the GW4 Building Research Communities Review Panel and taken to the GW4 Board for formal approval. Applicants will be notified of their award in the week following the Review Panel.

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Applicants should ensure that activities are planned and scheduled accordingly, so that in the event of an award, activities can be undertaken rapidly. We expect projects to be completed within the stated deadlines of three months [Initiator projects] and six months [Accelerator projects].

In light of the additional requirements of the GCRF criterion, particularly around the need to deliver capacity building activities, extended project timelines may be considered by the Building Communities Review Panel but only where they are fully justified and proportionate to the scope of the project.

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Feedback and Resubmissions

Please note that feedback on applications is not provided for Initiator projects and is limited for Accelerator projects.

Resubmissions are only invited by the panel in exceptional circumstances and cannot be requested by applicants.

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Assessment Criteria for Initiator and Accelerator Funds

  • Strategic fit to a broad ‘grand challenge’ area or a clear articulation of the unique research opportunity identified
  • Articulation of the step change in scholarly activity made possible by the GW4 Alliance that will help define the added value and nature of GW4.
  • Likelihood of leveraging clearly identified external funding at an appropriate scale
  • Likelihood of creating impact that enhances our institutional reputations
  • Likelihood of generating published outputs of the highest level
  • Clear articulation of how the GW4 community created by the award will sustainably develop
  • Value for Money

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Guidance documents

Before writing your application please refer to the Programme FAQs and read the following guidance documents:

  1. GW4 BC General Programme Guidelines Feb2017
  2. GW4 BC Fund Criteria Guidance Feb2017 v2
  3. GW4 BC Fund GCRF Criteria Guidance Feb2017 (Please note that RCUK has made some changes to the GCRF Grand Challenges)
  4. GW4 BC Fund Pitfalls & Top tips Feb2017 v2

Application forms

  1. GW4 IF8 Application Form Feb2017 : Initiator Fund
  2. GW4 AF7 Application Form Feb 2017 : Accelerator Fund