The Small Projects Facility (SPF) is an IGC initiative to produce research which immediately responds to the particular needs and demands of IGC engagement countries, particularly where this demand has a specific policy focus. The main purpose of this initiative is to allow pertinent, highly salient research to be produced in a time-sensitive manner, while retaining high academic quality.
This funding tool is designed to be a more flexible instrument for achieving policy impact. Proposals may consider exploratory research or present pilot projects which have a high potential for policy impact. The SPF can also be used to complement efforts to build larger, active groups of affiliated researchers in each thematic area by encouraging a collaborative approach which puts emphasis on building links with local policy makers and other relevant stakeholders.
At the country-level, there is a focus on demand-led research. The IGC works across ten countries in Africa, including Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia and four countries in Asia, including Bangladesh, India (Central and Bihar), Myanmar and Pakistan. PIs considering contacting a country-team about submitting an SPF proposal should ensure that their proposal is in-line with the research needs of the country and contextually-specific growth concerns. More broadly speaking, the IGC focuses on four main research themes: state, firms, cities and energy.
Small projects are defined as:
- Projects which require under £20,000 of funding, in total;
- Projects which are normally less than 12-months in duration;
- Projects which can demonstrate a strong motivation, in-line with the country preferences and research needs, and defined stakeholder demand, preferably with support from a ministry or organisation (and ideally with names of specific individuals);
- Projects which have a reasonable degree of time-sensitivity, either because of the timeline of the intervention or due to the nature of stakeholder demand.
Developing an SPF Proposal
The SPF proposals are developed alongside IGC country-teams. Consequently, in order for an SPF project to be considered for funding, researchers must actively liaise with staff in the relevant country-team. The SPF application should be sent to the Country Director (and/or Lead Academic) for their review and input, and the Country Leadership Team will forward with their recommendations for approval to the London hub. If the country-team is not prepared to support the proposal because it is not in-line with their priorities, or it is otherwise deemed unsuitable for the SPF process, then researchers can submit an application under the open call for proposals which occur bi-annually.
Researchers interested in submitting an SPF proposal may take the following steps:
- Make contact with the relevant Country Team:
- Liaise with policymakers, ensuring that the research covers a particular stakeholder demand or salient policy research topic, preferably of a time-sensitive nature;
- Country Economists will work alongside researchers to confirm whether the proposal is sufficient for the criteria. If the proposal does not fall within the scope of the SPF, it can instead be submitted to the bi-annual call for proposals;
- Country Leadership Team will make the decision as to whether they are prepared to sponsor the proposal and submit it to the relevant committee for consideration of funding;
- If the relevant members of the Country Team agree to collaborate on the proposal then the researcher must assist them with completing the relevant documentation for funding approval (see proposal guidelines);
- Funding approval comes from the Country Director and one of the country programme’s Lead Academics, with final oversight from the Hub;
- Once approved contracting will get under way and research can begin.
Researchers submitting a preliminary expression of interest for SPF funding should include the following details:
- An outline of the proposal;
- Details on the proposal adherence with country priorities and the policy agenda;
- Details of the suitability of the proposal for the SPF route of funding, according to the criteria set forth above;
- Curriculum vitae for the principal investigators who wish to undertake the research;
- The methodological approach;
- Tentative budget, breaking down relevant fees and expenses.