Our mission and strategy

We exist to amplify the value and impact of research for global development by promoting coherence, collaboration and joint action among UK research funders.

Who we are

The UK Collaborative on Development Research (UKCDR) is a group of government departments and research funders working in international development.

For over a decade, we have brought UK research funders together to discuss priorities and coordinate efforts to garner maximum impact.

We are a neutral and impartial entity governed by the Strategic Coherence of ODA-funded Research (SCOR) Board.

Our vision

We believe in accelerating global development through the power of research and knowledge.

Our strategy

At the core of our strategy is a principal commitment to data mapping, analysis and foresight, with our remaining activities built upon this strong foundation of knowledge and evidence. We have four integrated and overlapping aims:

  • Mapping, analysis and foresight
  • Convening for collaboration and joint action
  • Sharing information, learning and best practice
  • A collective voice to shape policy

Our motivation

In recent decades, there has been unprecedented global development progress. Since the 1990s, the world has managed to more than halve the numbers of child deaths and of people living in extreme poverty. But there is still much progress to be made, in a world that is rapidly changing and where major development, demographic and environmental transitions are bringing new challenges that require different transdisciplinary and innovative approaches. In 2015, recognising the complexity of the world in which we live, the UK along with 192 leaders across the world agreed on a set of 17 Global Goals to make the world a better place by 2030, by reducing poverty, ending hunger, halting climate change, strengthening global peace, and promoting prosperity.

UK Universities and research institutes have a long tradition of outstanding work in, for and with developing countries. Recognising the value of research, in 2015 the UK government made a dramatic shift within its international development efforts – a yearly incremental rise in aid spend specifically for research from under £400 million in 2015 to over £1.2 billion in 2021.

At UKCDR, we firmly believe that research across disciplines and in partnership with low and middle income countries is essential to drive global development progress. This changing funding landscape provides a fantastic opportunity to address the global goals through generation of knowledge.

Our history

The UK Collaborative on Development Sciences (UKCDS) was established in 2007, in response to a House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee inquiry into the use of science in international development.

In March 2015, the UK government reaffirmed its commitment to spend 0.7% of its Gross National Income on Official Development Assistance (ODA).Since November 2015, it has taken a whole of government approach to its international development effort, leveraging wider expertise through the UK’s world-leading science, research and development base to tackle global problems.

While the Department for International Development (DFID) is still the main delivery channel, more ODA funding for research and development is now administered by other departments to draw on their complementary skills.

Given this new approach, and the uplift of ODA research funding in departments other than DFID, in July 2016 the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee recommended the creation of a coherence and coordination mechanism for government ODA-research funds. Following this recommendation, the Strategic Coherence for ODA-funded Research (SCOR) Board was established in 2017 to provide high-level coherence for UK ODA research.

In June 2018, UKCDS rebranded to the UK Collaborative on Development Research (UKCDR) to reflect this diverse and changing landscape, with our new vision and aims under the strategic direction of the SCOR Board.