Guidance on applications for ESRC-DFID Development Frontiers research fund

Step 1

Read the call specification (PDF, 244Kb).

You should familiarise yourself with the call documentation before completing your application.

Development Frontiers research can be broadly defined as involving pioneering theoretical and methodological innovation, or research based on the engagement of a range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives including new links across disciplines that do not usually work together and across non-traditional partnerships. The expectation is that this research will provide a major stimulus to new and novel streams of enquiry or practice.

The Development Frontiers research fund will fund world-class scientific research which is potentially higher-risk/higher-reward. Whilst this kind of research has a greater than usual degree of risk, if it succeeds it is likely to have a radical impact on policy and practice. Applications are sought from across the social sciences. Multi- or inter-disciplinary projects are strongly encouraged, although this is not a pre-requisite for funding.  The programme will allow academics from developing and developed countries to work together in any configuration of their choosing, and principal investigators can be based anywhere in the world.  Projects with developing country leads and developing country partners are strongly encouraged.

There will be a stage-gating process for the Development Frontiers Research Fund.  Projects will initially be funded for 18 months with a stage one budget of up to £100,000. All projects will start on 1 October 2013. At the end of year one, projects will be invited to bid for a further 18 months of funding up to £200,000 to continue their research. It is expected that only up to half of projects initially funded will be supported into stage two.

Initial applications are invited for projects with a FEC (Full Economic Cost) value of up to £100,000 and a duration of 18 months (not more or less). Applications over £100,000 will not be accepted under this call.

Applications for this call will be sifted against the criteria of the call specification. Applications will be rejected if:

  • The duration requested is wrong (ie over or under 18 months)
  • The amount requested is wrong (ie up to a maximum of £100,000 at 100 per cent fEC)
  • The research is not novel, is incremental and otherwise not in line with the call criteria

Step 2

Read the guidance (PDF, 329Kb) for the application process.

To supplement this, there is costings guidance for non-UK Institutions and Partners (PDF, 78Kb) and a checklist for applicants (Word, 33Kb) and their research officers. There is also and FAQ document (PDF, 86Kb) which may be useful.

If your application will include project partners, you will need to complete a project partner template (Word, 28Kb) and submit this as an additional attachment to your application.

Step 3

Complete your application.

Any applicant(s) and their institutions intending to apply to this call must ensure they are registered with the Joint Electronic Submission System (Je-S).

For assistance in this process, please refer to the Guidance for self-registration of organisations (PDF, 64Kb).

Important documents


Je-S help

The Je-S Helpdesk may be contacted by email ( or telephone (+44 (0)1793 444164) and is staffed Monday to Friday 9.00-17.00 UK time (excluding public and other holidays).

Scheme-specific help

We are happy to help you through this process, and all queries or comments about this Joint Scheme should be addressed in the first instance to the ESRC-DFID email address,  Any enquiries may also be addressed to:

  • Mary Day +44 (0) 1793 413078
  • Lyndy Griffin +44 (0) 1793 413135 
  • or +44 (0) 1793 413125