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Exploratory Research Grants

There is no open regular ERG call at this time.

The Private Enterprise Development in Low-Income Countries (PEDL) programme pursues a research agenda that aims to better understand what determines the strength of market forces driving efficiency in low-income countries (LICs). Existing research suggests that the private sector in LICs faces a multitude of constraints that act upon each other. What is needed is research that allows us to understand how these constraints interact.

The objective of PEDL is to fund cutting-edge, policy-oriented research that could be published in leading academic journals and be relevant to the policy dialogue in LICs. It will promote research related to private enterprises of all sizes and invites applications in any aspect of private sector development, with a particular emphasis on PEDL’s four priority research areas:

  • Market frictions, management and organisations
  • Trade and macro models - agglomeration and spatial location of firms
  • High growth entrepreneurship
  • Social compliance and the environment

We are particularly interested in proposals on Climate Change and the Environment, and encourage proposals in this area. This link to the most recent special call on Climate details topics that are of particular interest. We also particularly encourage proposals that address one or more of PEDL’s three cross-cutting themes:

  • Fragile and conflict affected states
  • Gender
  • Unlocking data for understanding markets and firms

More information on PEDL's research and cross-cutting themes can be found in our Research Strategy.

ERGs are designed to allow researchers to:

  • explore new approaches to the study of firms in LICs; and
  • to develop new (or build on) existing sources of data on firms in LICs.

ERGs are grants of between £10,000 and £40,000. These grants will fund research assistance, data collection and new surveys in LICs, and (if necessary) teaching buyouts for the principal investigator. Please note that cost effectiveness and value for money are important evaluation criteria.


Grant Set-up:

ERGs typically run for 12 months.

Please note that contracts should be signed within one month of the outcome notification, which is also the expected start date for the projects.

ERGs are designed to be contracted directly with individual researchers. The individual researcher will be responsible for receiving, spending and reporting on funds. There should be no institutional involvement. In exceptional circumstances and with significant justification contracts can be drafted with the individual's institution, but these are non-negotiable and the institution cannot take any overhead fees. Please also note that due to local Indian regulations regarding the return of foreign funds, any contract with an Indian institution will be invoice based with no funds paid up front.

For further information on ERGs, please consult the FAQs.


Country Criteria:

Please note that an important criterion for funding of proposals is the relevance to policy in LICs and other eligible countries as defined by the PEDL initiative. A guide to PEDL's 2022 updated country criteria can be found here. PEDL's focus is on all LICs and any Tier 1 LMICs (i.e. LMICs in which FCDO has a bilateral programme). PEDL will consider proposals for research in other LMICs but they should make a clear case for the relevance of the research to policy in LICs, and also justify why the research is only feasible in a non-focus country (e.g. because of exceptional data availability). Note that we are currently unable to fund projects located in Myanmar and Palestine.


COVID-19 (updated):

Researchers whose proposals rely on face-to-face surveys or interventions should clearly discuss the implications for the project of potential delays, and the alternatives to face-to-face field work, in the event that the fieldwork is delayed by COVID-19. This can be included in the methodology section of the proposal template.  Any fieldwork will need to be cleared by university and, where possible, in-country IRBs. Decisions on fieldwork should follow the advice of governments. Finally, any proposal that includes face-to-face interaction should also briefly make clear how the researchers intend to ensure the safety of researchers and any participants involved in the study. If you have questions on this, please contact PEDL at [email protected].



There is no open regular ERG call at this time.



  • All applicants are required to use the templates listed below under "Resources"
  • Please note that at the beginning of your online application, you will need to select "I am applying to a regular Exploratory Research Grant call"



Information Pre-Application:

Application Templates:

For PEDL Grant Holders: