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Exploratory Research Grants

The 38th Regular ERG Call is now open. The deadline to apply is 19th August 2024. Please see below for more details. 

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 three priority research areas:

  • Innovation, Organisations and Markets
  • Climate and Environment 
  • Finance and Entrepreneurship

We are particularly interested in proposals related to the work of British International Investment (BII), the UK's development finance institution. These will  address the impact of development finance. We are particularly interested in the intersection between development finance on the one have and climate and gender on the other, and on projects that trace the impact of private sector investments through backward and forward linkages. A complete list of BII investments is available here

PEDL also encourages proposals that address three cross-cutting issues: 

  • Fragile and conflict affected states
  • Gender
  • Scaling up Research into Policy

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:

PEDL priority countries can be found here : the list includes all LICs and FCDO-focus LMICs. We are particularly interested in generating research in countries on which less research is currently being conducted. This means that countries with very active research (e.g., India and Indonesia) are lower priority. Proposals for research in these countries will need to justify why the research needs to be carried out there, and how the results are relevant to PEDL priority countries. 

PEDL will consider proposals for research in non-listed 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-target 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].



19th of August 2024. 



  • 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:

See here for information on PEDL Major Research Grants.