Making science work for development
UKCDS members collaborate when funding research in similar topics or around multidisciplinary problems. The UKCDS Secretariat works on improving the processes of science funding, uptake and communications, and runs a group on capacity strengthening, to maximise the impact of UK research in development.
Capacity strengthening encompasses a range of activtities that seek to enhance the ability of developing countries to support and make proper use of research and other outputs of science and engineering.
The activities take place across three interconnected levels:
- Individual: e.g. PhD training to increase a country’s human capital
- Organisational: building the infrastructure and skills of a university to conduct and manage research
- Institutional: addressing the incentive structures, and political and regulatory context in which research takes place and is used
UKCDS members fund a number of programmes that include capacity strengthening, ranging from research programmes where it is a minor component, through to £30 million initiatives where it is the main objective. Amongst UKCDS Members, DFID, MRC, ESRC and the Wellcome Trust are the biggest funders of scientific capacity building, with DFID alone having a £200m portfolio.
The UKCDS Secretariat convenes the UKCDS Research Capacity Strengthening Group which brings together the major UK players in this area, both funders like DFID and ESRC, and organisations that deliver programmes, such as INASP, the ACU and the Royal Society. This Group is an opportunity for individuals and organisations to share information to aid alignment and highlight opportunities for collaboration; to share lessons to promote best practice; and to discuss shared challenges like monitoring and evaluation of capacity strengthening interventions.