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Major Research Grants

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 organizations
  • Trade and macro models - agglomeration and spatial location of firms
  • High growth entrepreneurship
  • Social compliance and the environment

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.

MRGs are designed to allow researchers to:

  • build on and expand previous exploratory research on the study of firms in LICs; and, more generally,
  • conduct research on the study of firms in LICs at a large scale

MRGs have an average grant size of £300,000. Note however that while there is a lower limit of £100,000 for each MRG, there is no upper limit. 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:

Major Research Grants (MRGs) can run for between 24 and 36 months.

Please note that contracts should be signed within 6 months of the outcome notification. Contract start dates should be within 1 year of the application deadline.

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

For further information on MRGs, 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 Programme. See the list of LICs and DFID focus countries here. Proposals for projects outside the focus countries should make a clear case for the relevance of the research to policy in lower-income countries, and also justify why the research is feasible only in non-target countries. Note that we are currently unable to fund projects located in Myanmar and Palestine.



At present we are not able to support face-to-face research, but given decision lags, it is possible that the situation will have changed by the time decisions are made. Researchers whose proposals rely on face-to-face surveys or interventions should be aware that the timing of their research may be affected by conditions at the time decisions are made. Any decision will consider the advice of governments, among others, and so it is possible that the viability of this type of research will differ by country. Any proposal that includes face-to-face interaction should 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 Ed Sellers at [email protected].



There is currently no open MRG call. Please see the list of open and upcoming calls here.

More information on how to apply as well as access to the online application form are available here.



  • All applicants are required to use the templates listed below under "Resources"



Information Pre-Application:

Application Templates:

For PEDL Grant Holders: