Research Capacity Strengthening

Working with our members to inform future approaches and investments to strengthen research capacity in low- and middle-income countries.

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 so far? 

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

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.

Latest reports and blogs

Resources, tools and guidance

Explore our collection of tools, guides, reports and other resources on research capacity strengthening (RCS) for development, in our Research Capacity Strengthening Resources Hub.

Funder Forum: Research Capacity Strengthening Group

The Research Capacity Strengthening Group (RCSG) is an informal group, formed in 2008, that brings together UK funders and practitioners to share, learn, connect and improve practice in research capacity strengthening. It aims to improve coordination of UK activities. 

Joint Funder Initiatives

Highlighting RCS for development initiatives jointly funded through two or more members of our Research Capacity Strengthening Group.

Contact us

For more information on our work on RCS, please contact Yaso Kunaratnam, Research & Policy Officer, RCS lead (