Home » Window 1 – Research in Danida priority countries

Window 1 – Research in Danida priority countries

Eligible countries

The research must be implemented in a Danida priority country. These are currently Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Myanmar, Niger, Palestine, Somalia, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Project duration and grant

The total budget available for this research window is approximately DKK 120 million. The funding is conditional on the Danish Parliament’s approval of the 2019 Finance Bill. The duration of projects is up to 5 years within a maximum grant of DKK 12 million for each project.

Main applicant

Applications can only be submitted by universities or by a research-based institution (public and private, nationally registered institutions) in Denmark, Ghana, or Tanzania, which will be responsible for the grant. The project coordinator must have an affiliation to the applying institution.

At the time of submitting the application, the project coordinator must hold a PhD or equivalent qualification, documented clearly in the CV. Documented evidence that he/she is a Professor, Assistant Professor, or Associate Professor is regarded as equivalent to a PhD.

Experience shows that the project coordinator plays a key role in ensuring that a research collaboration project is successful. An effective engagement/ involvement of the project coordinator will entail a substantial workload, noticeably at the beginning of the project.

It is important that the project coordinator and the research team are able to document relevant scientific merits and qualifications as well as a research background within the topic applied for. A person may appear as project coordinator on several applications, but only one project per project coordinator may be approved for this funding window.

Project participants

The application must list all partner institutions. The applications from Denmark must list partners in Danida priority countries and possibly international and private sector partners, while the applications from Ghana and Tanzania must list partners in Denmark and possibly other partners elsewhere. At least one researcher from each partner institution (project participant if private sector partner) must be named in the Phase 1 application. Guide to finding a Danish researcher for applicants from Ghana and Tanzania is available under “Useful links”.

Research collaboration is considered an important means to strengthen research capacity of institutions in priority countries. In order for research partners to benefit from the collaboration, partnerships should be equal, and partners should be able to contribute actively in preparing both Phase 1 and Phase 2 applications. Research applications which have been prepared without the active involvement of all partners will not be approved. Other important aspects of equal partnerships include joint fieldwork, joint publishing, knowledge sharing, access to databases and libraries, etc.

It is strongly encouraged to involve partners from the private sector and national authorities in the partner country or in Denmark in the research project, and grant funding can be used for direct costs in relation to the project activities but not overhead expenses. Such partners are encouraged to contribute with additional resources (funding or in-kind) for the projects. International research institutions and research institutions in countries outside Denmark and outside the Danida priority countries can equally be supported by the grant for their direct input to the project activities with no overhead.

Support to PhD students is considered an important part of research capacity strengthening of the partner institutions. The application should indicate the intentions for involvement of PhD students in the project. Danish PhD students may be included for their direct input to the project.

PhD candidates from the priority countries included in the project must seek enrolment at a university in their home country, alternatively at a university in the region of the partner country. Enrolment in Denmark can only be considered if enrolment in the partner country or the partner country region is not possible, and if sufficient justification for this is provided.

Research themes

The global 2030 agenda and the seventeen United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) constitute an important framework for development cooperation and research. Therefore, it is envisaged that research projects and collaboration on the five themes identified below will be undertaken within the context of the relevant SDGs and that these will be reflected in the justification for the research proposed.

Theme 1 – Sustainable economic development

Inclusive economic growth is at the core of the sustainable development agenda. Eradicating poverty through the promotion of economic growth, productive activities and employment is vital in many developing countries. In this context, catalysing knowledge and leveraging finance for investments are means of establishing sustainable business models that both address environmental degradation and create decent jobs while respecting human rights (in terms of working conditions, effective civil institutions, etc.). Furthermore, strengthening job creation through small and medium sized enterprises in both rural and urban areas is high on the economic growth agenda. Targeted research will make useful contributions in terms of defining appropriate policies for inclusive, sustainable growth.

Theme 2 – Gender equality and development

Although progress has been made in many countries with respect to gender equality and women’s rights, much remains to be done. The United Nations gender inequality index reflects disparities in achievement, notably in three dimensions: sexual and reproductive health and rights, empowerment (including education) and the labour market. Inequalities of access to justice are also significant. Masculinity and patterns of male behaviour are increasingly subject to scrutiny, in addition to the traditional concerns with women’s rights. More research is needed to enhance understanding of the opportunities for greater gender equality as well as the constraints affecting these dimensions in particular countries and regions.

Theme 3 – Humanitarian assistance and development

A large share of international development assistance is allocated to a range of humanitarian organisations dealing with both acute and lengthy crises. Relief and emergency assistance is channelled to deal with internally displaced persons and refugees as well as victims of natural disasters. In this context it is important to understand how humanitarian efforts can best contribute to long term, sustainable development in line with recent international commitments. Research could entail investigating the ways in which different actors – including the diaspora – respond to a crisis or disaster, with a view to peace making and conflict resolution, to “building back better” (after destructive events), to strengthening institutions for long-term service provision, improved preparedness and early warning, etc.

Theme 4 – Climate change resilience

As climate change leads inexorably to higher temperatures and sea level rise as well as increasingly extreme weather events, adaptation has become a critical issue in many vulnerable regions, both rural and urban. Climate change affects food production and access to water resources, as well as the patterns and prevalence of diseases. According to the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), resilience is the degree to which “a system rebounds, recoups or recovers.” Thus, strengthening resilience has become a key to effective adaptation. Research can contribute to determining how both rural and urban communities can improve their livelihoods while reducing vulnerability.

Theme 5 – State building and governance

Over the past decade there has been a considerable emphasis on the problems of fragile states, but there is still a need for greater understanding of the world’s more intractable conflicts. Emigration and displacement from affected regions have sharpened the focus of attention on failures in terms of stabilisation. In this context, further research is needed to better understand the drivers of stability and good governance, in particular the role of democracy in state building, the establishment of well-functioning and legitimate public institutions for service delivery, how to strengthen businesses and incentivise investment, etc. Relations between states and citizens, the roles of religion, ethnicity and the family, as well as the drivers of growth such as entrepreneurship and access to financial resources and services (including education, health care, water supply, etc.) could be amongst the research topics.

Description of project idea
The description of the project idea must be structured according to the indicated headings and in the stated order. All headings must be used and none added. It is important to ensure that the application is clear and focused, and although there are no requirements regarding the length of each section in the project description, the project description as a whole must not exceed 4 pages (10,000 characters, including spacing) plus references.

Heading 1: State of the art, rationale, and relevance

Background to project objectives:

• Based on a state of the art literature review and a broader development rationale, explain how the research project will provide new knowledge in the scientific field concerned;
• Highlight how the proposed project relates to prior and on-going research in the specific field about which the applicant is aware;
• Present a rationale for the selection of partner country/countries. If more than one partner country is chosen, the rationale for this and added-value and importance for the project should be clearly argued.

Describe the project’s importance in relation to:

• Specific Sustainable Development Goal(s);
• The development strategies and specific development challenges of the involved country or countries;
• Danish priorities in the country in relation to development cooperation;
• Relevance towards the public and/or private sector where appropriate.

Heading 2: Objectives and results expected

• Describe project objectives, including clearly identified research questions and possibly research hypotheses;
• List the main expected scientific results and an indication of the research capacity strengthening.

Heading 3: Indicative project methodology

Outline the methodology, research design, and approach to research capacity strengthening in general terms.

Assessment criteria

A Consultative Research Committee for Development Research (FFU), and National Screening Committees (NSC) in Ghana and Tanzania, are tasked with assisting the MFA by providing professional and scientific advice in relation to research applications. See under “Useful links” for more information.

The FFU assesses the Phase 1 application from Danish research institutions and the NSCs assess the Phase 1 applications from Ghanaian and Tanzanian research institutions, respectively, on the basis of three equally important criteria as described below: i) scientific quality; ii) relevance; and iii) the potential effect of the research.

The scientific quality of the proposal is evaluated on the basis of the following criteria:
The research experience and qualifications of the project coordinator and the team;
The originality and innovative nature of the project, in terms of generating new knowledge and results.

The relevance of the proposal is evaluated on the basis of the following criteria:
The focus of the project is well-defined with respect to the selected theme;
The project responds to national development priorities relevant for Danish development assistance;
Opportunities for enhanced public and private sector development.

The effect of the research is evaluated on the basis of the following criteria:
The potential direct effects with respect to the selected sustainable development goal(s);
The effects of the project in terms of the partnerships with public and private sector which could take the research to the next step;
The contribution of the project to strengthened research capacity.

It must be clear that the proposal constitutes a genuine research project rather than being registration of data, commissioned research, a product development, demonstration project, technology transfer, consultancy, or development project.

On the basis of the FFU assessment, MFA makes a decision on which applicants should be invited to apply in Phase 2 of the selection process. In Phase 2, feasibility of the proposed research project will also be a criterion for assessment. Refer to “Useful links” for Phase 2 guidelines from 2018.

The scientific quality of the Phase 2 applications will be assessed by the FFU and approved by the Innovation Fund Denmark, cf. section 5, subsection 1 of the Act on Innovation Fund Denmark no. 306 of March 29, 2014, amended in Act no. 384 of April 26, 2017.

If the total number of qualified applications exceeds the available funding allocation, the MFA will select the best projects based on the FFU and NSC assessments of the above criteria. If and when required, the MFA will conduct a hearing process in accordance with § 19 of the Danish Public Administration Act.

MFA may make the processing of new applications by the project coordinator conditional on compliance with the terms and conditions of previous MFA grants, including if the total time allocation for a researcher on several projects exceeds what is considered feasible.

Application process

Capture W1

Project costs

In the Phase 1 application an estimate of the grant applied for must be indicated. The total grant cannot exceed 12 million DKK for a five-year period. Other funding sources and an estimated total project cost should be indicated.

The percentage of the budget to institutions in Denmark vis-à-vis institutions in Danida priority countries must reflect the importance given to the research capacity strengthening in the priority country, e.g. by providing around 60% of the budget to institutions in the Danida priority countries.

For international research institutions and partners in countries outside the Danida priority country, the budget can only include salaries and travel expenses covering their direct input to the project activities, and no administration fees can be covered. For private sector partners and national authorities the budget can cover their direct costs, but no overhead.

Eligible costs

It will be possible to apply for funding for the following budget items:
• Salaries and emoluments;
• Tuition Fees and educational grants to PhD students from the Danida priority countries;
• Expenses for trips abroad and fieldwork;
• Project and research materials and equipment;
• Publication, dissemination and communication;
• Administration fees (overhead);
• Study stays in Denmark of PhD students from Danida priority countries;
• External audit.

Guiding principles for budgeting in Phase 2 is available under “Useful links”.

E-application information and content
Submission of a Phase 1 application must be done via DFC’s e-application system. The e-application system is accessible here.

Before the electronic application system is accessible, you will need to register yourself with your e-mail address and password – log on the link “If you have not previously used Danida Fellowship Centre’s electronic application system click here”. If you have several e-mail addresses, please note that acknowledgement of receipt of the application will be sent to the e-mail address used as your user name in the system. Shortly after submitting the application, the applicant will receive an e-mail acknowledging receipt. If the acknowledgement is not received within 24 hours, the applicant should send an e-mail to research@dfcentre.dk to ensure that the application has been received before the deadline.

• To create an application, select the application form “W1 Research in Danida priority countries phase 1″.
• Once you have created an application form, you can save and resume work at any time by accessing the “Edit” box at the log-in page to the right.
• If you have forgotten your password, please type any password in the box, and by doing this, an e-mail with your correct password will be sent to your e-mail address.
• Your partners can access the application by using the same e-mail address and password.

The Phase 1 application must comprise the completed e-application form, CVs and signatures.

All steps (including Step 1A) in the e-application form must be completed, and the application and appendices must be completed in English. Only the required appendices will be considered. The total volume of the appendices must not exceed 25 MB. The appendices must be named: “Appendix (letter) – name of project coordinator”.

Appendix A – CVs: A front page of the appendix must be inserted, listing the CVs of the project coordinator and all other researchers and project participants named in the application Step 1A, listed in the order in which they appear.

The CVs must specify the scientific qualifications, managerial skills, and experience from developing countries, and must include a list of key publications and patents relevant for the application. The length of the CVs must be no more than 2 pages per person. Signature on CVs is not required.

The table of contents and all CVs must be compiled in a single PDF file in which each CV starts on a new page.

Appendix B – Signatures: This appendix must include scanned signatures of the project coordinator and the Head of the Responsible Institution/Department as per template (available in the e-application form, Step 5) and be uploaded as a PDF file.

Some upload actions can be slow and take several minutes, if there is a large load on the system, so please be patient when working in the application form. It is advised not to wait until the last minute before deadline to submit the application.


Applicants should familiarize themselves with the following before using the e-application system and submitting an application.

The responsibility of the applying institution

The applying institution is responsible for ensuring that all information in the e-application is correct, that the required appendices are uploaded with the e-application, that the contents of the appendices are correct and that the e-application has been submitted before the set deadline.

It is not possible to make corrections to an e-application after it has been submitted, except for corrections related to basic applicant information such as change of e-mail address.

In the event of any subsequent substantive changes affecting the information submitted, the applying institution must immediately notify the Research Unit at DFC at research@dfcentre.dk.

The application must reflect possible legal, regulatory or ethical issues and considerations, including required standards or authorization requirements (such as production standards, quality systems, scientific ethics, data handling and protection, use of animals), as well as research permits, provision of information to relevant authorities, etc., and a plan for obtaining these.

Storage of information and data protection

When the e-application system is used, the system will automatically register the applicant’s identity, IP address, and the time at which the application was created or edited. All personal data will be processed, stored and deleted in accordance with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the DFC Privacy Policy. We also refer to the privacy policy of Innovation Fund Denmark (in Danish) being the institution approving the selection of applications for funding.

Technical disclaimer

The Danida Fellowship Centre is obliged to inform prospective applicants of any system errors that make the e-application system unavailable, affecting the applicant’s possibility of submitting e-applications within set deadlines. Information regarding such unavailability or other unforeseen events will be posted on the DFC website.

The Danida Fellowship Centre accepts no liability for incorrect information due to software errors, calculation errors, transmission errors and similar errors, or for any claims for damages due to incorrect use of the e-application system.

Rejection of applications without substantive consideration

According to Section 6 of the Executive Order on the granting function etc. under Innovation Fund Denmark (Executive Order no 1150 of 25 October 2017), an application may be rejected by DFC without substantive consideration by the FFU and the Ministry, if the formal requirements (to the eligibility of applicants  and countries, and to the application and attachments) or deadlines, as set out in this Call for applications, are not met.

Other data which may be obtained by official bodies

The MFA and the FFU reserve the right to obtain information about any previous and current applications an applicant may have submitted to the FFU, and this information may be included in processing of the application.

In the event that project funding has been or will be applied for from elsewhere, the MFA and the FFU reserve the right to obtain information as to whether the amount has been granted.

Use of funding for other purposes

The MFA may, at its discretion, decide that a proportion of the funding available is to be used for other research cooperation.


Once the submitted Phase 1 applications have been processed, an announcement will be made on the DFC website, as to who have been invited to submit a Phase 2 application. In support of that announcement, the following information may be published on the internet: applicant’ name, title, workplace, title of application, and expected application amount. The purpose of this is to enable applicants to apprise themselves of other prospective programme applicants and research activities and possibly form their own networks with a view to submitting joint applications.

Information about applicants who are not invited to submit a Phase 2 application may be disclosed in the event that access is applied for according to the Danish Public Records Act (Offentlighedsloven). Access to such information may be granted in the form of lists of who has applied and for what purpose (applicant names and application titles). Applicants should, therefore, take care that their application title does not reveal information about the activity which they wish to keep out of the public domain.