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Major Research Grants

Current Open Calls:

There are no Regular MRG calls open at the moment. 

Research Topics:

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. We welcome proposals in any area related to private sector development in low-income countries. We expect that many of the funded proposals will relate to one of PEDL’s three main research themes:

  • 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 on private sector development, including understanding the indirect effect of credit and other investments on upstream and downstream firms, and on final consumers. Projects examining the effect of ports and telecommunications infrastructure are also welcome.

We also particularly encourage proposals that address one or more of PEDL’s three cross-cutting themes. Applicants will be particularly encouraged to consider these three issues in their projects, and proposals addressing these themes have an increased chance of receiving funding.

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

For a more comprehensive description of the new research agenda, please see our Research Strategy. You can view the descriptions of past major grant projects funded by the PEDL initiative here.

Optional Expressions of Interest:

Researchers are invited to submit a one or two-page description of their project in advance of the full proposal. When we have a call open, we will aim to provide feedback on the fit of the proposal with the PEDL program within a week of submission, but encourage researchers to submit this expression of interest well in advance of a full proposal submission deadline. The optional submission of an expression of interest is intended to reduce the initial effort required for those researchers who are unsure of their project’s alignment with PEDL’s themes. Expressions of interest should be submitted to [email protected].

Grant Set-Up:

Major Research Grants have an average grant size of £300,000. Note however that whilst there is a lower limit of £100,000 for each Major Grant, there is no upper limit. Cost effectiveness and value for money are important evaluation criteria. These grants will fund research assistance, data collection and new surveys in low-income countries, and (where necessary) teaching buyouts for the principal investigator.

MRGs typically run for between 24 and 36 months.

MRGs are designed to be contracted with institutions. While we try to remain as flexible as possible, the contracts were approved with FCDO and therefore are non-negotiable. Please look at our contract templates before applying. 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 MRGs, 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 Considerations:

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 or similar pandemic event. This can be included in the methodology section of the proposal template. Any fieldwork will need to be cleared by the applicable 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 the PEDL Team at [email protected].


There are no Regular MRG calls open at the moment.

Resources and Templates:

Information Pre-Application:

Application Templates:

For PEDL Grant Holders: