What we work on
The IGC’s research focuses on sustainable growth policies in developing countries. Sustainable growth refers to countries developing their potential in an inclusive way that improves social, environmental, and economic well-being for all, including for future generations. As developing countries have an urgent need for economic growth to increase living standards and reduce poverty, balancing this growth trajectory with environmental sustainability is crucial. Sustainable growth encompasses not just job creation, income enhancement, and poverty elimination but also increasing resilience to climate shocks and reducing the negative externalities of growth.
Our research direction is anchored in productivity and innovation, and the microeconomic transformations that drive sustainable growth. These include enhancing firm capabilities, improving state effectiveness, developing sound urbanisation strategies, and transitioning towards sustainable energy practices, all while safeguarding our natural environment.
Fundamental to our mission of contributing to informed policymaking is the use of data. We embrace all quantitative research methods and approaches that are grounded in data, and encourage the use of administrative data as well, which can offer important insights due to its detailed and often longitudinal nature.
We are particularly interested in projects that address these issues through one of our four themes:
- Firms, trade, and productivity – Increasing productivity through structural changes in firms’ capabilities, the functioning of markets and how firms interact with world markets, while promoting green innovation and enhancing resilience against climate shocks.
- State effectiveness – Escaping fragility and improving the capabilities and effectiveness of states to deliver higher rates of inclusive growth, while addressing the challenges of environmental externalities.
- Cities – Making cities more productive and inclusive while addressing the downsides of density and ensuring resilience to climate change.
- Energy and environment – Improving access to reliable, cost-efficient energy, supporting the transition to clean energy, reducing global and local environmental externalities, and more effectively managing natural capital.
Where we work
We have resident teams in 10 partner countries throughout Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. Country offices allow the IGC to sustain long-term policy engagement, and help ensure our work is demand-led. Our partner countries are Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, Jordan, Mozambique, Pakistan, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Uganda, and Zambia. We also have flexible engagements in Tanzania and Yemen, and we encourage research in those countries as well.
More information on the research priorities for each of our partner countries can be found here.
Researchers are strongly encouraged to conduct their research in IGC partner countries, and to reach out to IGC country offices or to staff covering flexible engagement countries (e-mail email@example.com) as they develop their proposals, as well as during the implementation phases of their projects.
Conducting research in countries where we have a country office comes with advantages – access to local research partners, datasets, and established, well-connected country teams. IGC staff provides dedicated support for policy engagement, facilitating meetings with policymakers and key stakeholders, and providing feedback on proposals and project outputs.
We also accept exceptional proposals for research in any other developing country that have the potential to influence global debates on sustainable growth, demonstrate a potential to significantly push the frontier of knowledge on a particular issue, and provide clear policy recommendations that are also relevant for IGC countries. These proposals will receive a higher level of scrutiny, and we expect them to be subject to a much higher level of competition.
For more information on our model, please visit our about section.
Types of awards
We offer two types of awards: full research grants and small research grants.
Full research grants: These grants are for fully-developed research projects. Not only must the research question be clear, but applicants must also demonstrate a commitment from implementing partners (if applicable), well-defined instruments, and a clear and compelling research design. Proposals can be for any type of research, and we encourage the use of a variety of approaches, including using secondary data. Proposals can also be submitted for funding the continuation of research projects that have already started where new research opportunities arise. The expectation is that these projects will result in a paper publishable in a top Economics journal, as well as generate significant policy impact. There is no limit on the amount that can be awarded. However, our average project budgets are GBP 60,000, and we rarely fund projects over GBP 125,000.
Small research grants: These grants are for pilot studies and exploratory research. We also strongly encourage applicants who want to work purely on administrative data to apply through this window. All small grants will be capped at GBP 30,000, while research that is purely exploratory in nature will be capped at GBP 20,000. Researchers must conduct their research in one of our 10 IGC resident countries (Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, Jordan, Mozambique, Pakistan, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Uganda, and Zambia) or two flexible engagement countries (Tanzania and Yemen). They are expected to connect to the IGC country team during proposal development, which comes with several advantages including potential access to policymakers, access to feedback, and data. Small grants are designed to enable researchers to further refine and test innovative research ideas with high potential policy impact by conducting preliminary research and engaging with partners, which will enable stronger full applications in future funding rounds. We encourage any researcher to apply for these, but in particular PhD students, early-career researchers, and researchers based in developing countries.
- Pilot grants will be awarded to projects with a reasonably well-developed research question, but for which the design and implementation requires further testing and pilot data before scale-up into a larger research study. New evidence from the pilot can also sometimes lead to an adjustment or reformulation of the research question. There is also an expectation that grant awardees engage with relevant policy stakeholders, implementation partners, and IGC country team for feedback during the pilot, to further shape their interventions and research design for scale-up.
- Exploratory work relates to preliminary research ideas, such as conducting background research, developing partnerships, visiting field sites, and collecting preliminary data. The expectation is that these funds will be used to support costs related to the researcher’s travel and IGC country team and policymaker engagement to develop a proposal for a pilot or full-scale study during subsequent call for proposals. We do not expect to award more than GBP 20,000 for purely exploratory work that does not involve a pilot component.
Evaluation of proposals
Proposals are evaluated on the following criteria:
- Alignment with research strategy
- Quality of research design
- Policy impact
- Academic impact
- Engagement with local institutions, including IGC country teams
- Value for money