What is research capacity strengthening (RCS)? 

UKCDR defines research capacity strengthening as

‘Enhancing the ability and resources of individuals, institutions and/or systems to undertake, communicate and/or use high quality research efficiently, effectively and sustainably.’

Why are we working on this? 

Research capacity strengthening –  a process that ultimately enables countries to shape and sustain their own long-term research development and impact – is a key area of investment for the UK, particularly though the UK’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) research spend across Government departments. As part of our work on ‘Enablers of Research’, we want to increase the visibility of these investments to help identify gaps and opportunities for better coordination. 

What have we achieved? 

We are experts in RCS mapping. Previous work has included:

  • Cross-funder
  • Mapping fellowships in Africa (2019)
  • Mapping international funder RCS priorities (2015)
  • and 300+ health RCS initiatives (2014)

We have also facilitated the Research Capacity Strengthening Group (RCSG) for over 10 years, which brings together over 20 UK funder and practitioner organisations (including FCDO, Wellcome Trust, UKRI, DHSC, INASP, Royal Society, ACU and others) and has a wealth of institutional knowledge and learning from the field.

What are we doing now? 

We are currently leading a cross-funder review to understand where the UK Government and Wellcome are collectively investing in research capacity strengthening in LMICs and collate lessons learned to date. The review aims to inform future funder coordination, a longer-term vision for the sustainability and impact of UK RCS investments, and informed future practice particularly by those new to the field.