Call for Application Round 2

 Call for Application Round 2


A1. Funding opportunity description

Makerere University received special funding from the Government of the Republic of Uganda, to support high impact Research and Innovations. The Financial Year 2020/21 will be the second year of this fund’s availability. The fund illustrates the increasing importance that the Government attaches to Research and Innovation as a driver of socio-economic transformation. The objective of the fund is to increase the local generation of translatable research and scalable innovations that address key gaps required to drive Uganda’s development agenda. The fund is therefore aimed at complementing available funding to address key research needs of the government sectors by addressing unfunded priorities critical to accelerating development. In the last Financial Year (2019/2020), 224 projects were funded under Round 1 of this Fund. In the next Financial Year (2020/21), Makerere University expects another 30 Billion Uganda shillings (about US$ 8,100,000) under the Government Research and Innovation Fund (RIF). Of this, 12.5 Billion Shillings will fund new ideas that respond to a widely consultative Research Agenda focused on national priorities. The Makerere University Research and Innovation Grants Management Committee (GMC) therefore announces the RIF Round 2, Track 1 (Research & Innovation Agenda-Based Grants). Available funds are obligated for the Financial Year 2020/2021, with an expectation of actionable results that speak to the National Research and Innovation Agenda. The GMC therefore invites applications with original ideas that demonstrate a clear link to key thematic areas of the National Research and Innovation Agenda.

A2. Research for Economic Development

To transition to middle-income status, low-income countries must increasingly invest in research and innovations that provide solutions to persistent development challenges. Universities should be at the fore-front of driving this research agenda. The Government of Uganda drafted the 2nd National Development Plan (NDP) (2015-2020), specifying key areas of development investments needed to take the country to the next level. Resulting from this plan, different sectors have developed their Sectoral Development Plans (e.g. the Health Sector Development Plan 2015-2020 and the Agriculture Sector Development Plan (2015-2020). The NDP has been revised and the 3rd Plan is currently in draft. However, the NDP and sector-specific plans require research to fill evidence gaps. The main objective of the RIF is to support R&I initiatives that contribute to better delivery of National Development initiatives in all sectors critical to the economy.

A3. Scope and Technical Description of the Research and Innovation Grant

The RIF GMC’s terms of reference include the development of an instructive research agenda as the basis for identifying funding priorities. In preparation for the RIF Round 2, the GMC conducted a comprehensive stakeholder consultation to identify thematic areas of focus for the grant. These consultations included meetings with representatives from key government sectors, semi-autonomous government agencies, the private-for-profit sector and civil society. The GMC triangulated this information with that from the draft National Development Plan III, Makerere University Strategic Plan and Research Agenda and the thematic outputs from the RIF Round 1 proposals.  RIF Round 2, Track 1 (Research & Innovation Agenda-Based Grants) will therefore specifically target research and innovation ideas that align with priority thematic issues in the instructive Research Agenda that arose from these consultations. Research and Innovation ideas are therefore sought in the following thematic areas:

Theme 1: Transforming the agricultural sector to drive development

SDGs targeted: 2,1,3: The overall aim of The sector is to increase national income from agriculture as the backbone of the economy, ensure household food security and promote household nutrition from sustainable agricultural production, effective value chains and fair trade. The sector is seeking solutions that boost the transformative potential of agriculture for Uganda’s economy. Specifically, the grant is seeking ideas in the following sub-themes:

  1. The sector seeks solutions to cost-effectively increase agricultural production of both regular food and cash crops (cereals, legumes, milk, bananas, coffee, cassava etc.), animal products (meat, dairy, and poultry) and high-value outputs (horticulture, aquaculture, high-value crops). Solutions could include improved affordable technologies or approaches to production, plant and animal breeding for better disease, pest and drought resistance, affordable approaches to disease control, novel affordable animal feeds, novel approaches to agricultural water resource management and optimization during dry spells, affordable irrigation technologies, soil management, and sustainable fertilizers, affordable mechanization for modernization of production. Solutions could also involve natural/herbal/organic approaches to pest/disease control
  2.  Innovations in post-harvest handling and improvement of phytosanitary conditions of produce to reduce post-harvest losses but also ensure safety in the use of chemicals agricultural chemicals and drugs are needed as are approaches to reduce post-harvest losses/wastage (e.g. in the grain and poultry industries).
  3.  Post production, the sector is seeking novel affordable approaches to local value addition to agricultural produce including novel affordable technologies for local produce processing and data-driven approaches to value chain analysis.
Theme 2: Achieving Sustainable health as a means to sustainable development

SDGs targeted: 3,1,6,10: The solutions targeted in this sector mainly aim at achieving universal health coverage through sustainable health measures. A healthy population not only reduces the strain on household and national resources but is the driving force for economic development. The sector also acknowledges that many determinants of health are placed in other sectors, thereby necessitating a cross-sectoral approach. Evidence is needed on new measures to reduce the burden of preventable diseases, but also increase the quality of life for the population through health. Specifically, proposals are sought under the following sub-themes:

  1. The sector seeks novel approaches and technologies for health promotion and prevention to change behavior so as to reduce diseases responsible for a high burden of morbidity and mortality (especially pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, HIV/AIDS, TB, maternal conditions, newborn and child morbidity, hepatitis, oral health conditions, cancer, and injuries). Reproductive Health and adolescent health are also key areas of need, as well as new approaches to addressing neglected tropical diseases. New therapeutic approaches to treat these conditions are also of paramount importance.
  2.  With the emerging dual burden of disease due to lifestyle diseases (especially diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic lung disease, and cancer), solutions are needed to incentivize lifestyle changes (diet, physical activity, self-care and health habits) across the lifecycle, locally appropriate chronic care models that seamlessly integrate with acute care, to address psychosocial wellbeing and the growing burden of mental health, to improve road safety and to effectively reduce morbidity and loss of life from injuries and mass-casualty incidents.
  3. The high frequency of epidemics and pandemic threats calls for robust approaches to epidemic intelligence, forecasting, response, and control as well as one-health approaches to emerging threats (especially RNA viruses). New biotechnology products for early characterization, diagnosis and pre-emptive screening for deadly threats as well as just-in-time vaccine development capacity for new disease strains are necessary. Tools and approaches for better surveillance and improved public health response to emergencies are pertinent.
  4.  Improvements in support systems for health services delivery are also very crucial and include: Effective approaches to improving health worker skills in primary care settings improved approaches to patient management (medical, surgical or lifestyle-based), better tracking of patient harm and mismanagement, sustainable approaches to health worker incentives, but also tools to improve accountability for health workers time and increasing patient feed-back and monitoring of quality of care, innovative approaches to sustainable financing of health care especially in un-banked populations and for input-intense medical procedures but also reducing cost-escalation and inefficiencies and innovative approaches to medical waste management.
  5.  Innovative solutions are needed in improving the efficiency of the health supply chain, especially demand-based forecasting and accountability, efficient delivery systems and increasing the availability of blood. Solutions are also needed on better models of community health extension and sustainable but effective ways of motivating Community Health Workers. The sector needs evidence on how to better structure the planned National Health Institutes. There is a need for platforms to support inclusion of health information from Private-for-profit health facilities into the national HIS as well as models for affordable public-private partnerships
Theme 3: Re-imagining Education to unlock capacity for economic development

SDGs targeted: 3,8,5,10: Education is the driving force for capacity development to develop the skills necessary to drive enterprise and innovation. The main expressed need of the sector is how to leverage the advantages of Uganda’s demographic dividend by providing education that imparts skills crucial for productivity in the 21st Century and for the world of work. The priority subthemes of focus for this call are laid out as follows:

  1.   The sector needs current and futures-based analysis of skills requirements for a transitioning economy and when and how these skills should best be delivered in the education life-cycle to maximize their impact on the economy. Cross-sectoral solutions are needed to address the growing problem of youth unemployment. The sector needs novel approaches for skilling of youth to increase gainful employment as well as attitude building to drive agency for change among youth. Ways to up-scale the skills needed for the 21st Century job-environment
  2.  Innovative ways of tracking curriculum performance to support real-time improvements in formal education is needed. Research that unpacks how to improve early childhood learning, science education and the gender gap in STEM, vocational education, informal apprenticeship based education. The sector also needs innovative approaches to integrating design science into training from early in the education process.
  3. The sector needs evidence to improve support systems for education service delivery including Novel ways of financing education, innovative ways of improving infrastructure to support education, better ways of monitoring delivery of education at lower levels as well as accounting for teacher time, ways of enhancing public-private partnerships in education, enhancing regulatory frameworks.
Theme 4: Water, sanitation and the environment: A pre-requisite to sustainable development

SDGs targeted: 6,3,12,13: The main aim of the sector is to increase access to safe water for domestic use and water for production, and to safeguard the environment through sustainable development approaches. This is in a context where inadequate coverage with safe-water sources and water stress from recurrent dry spells abound leads to a high burden of sanitation-related diseases, but also recurrent agricultural losses due to insufficient water. There are major gender disparities in the consequences of inaccess to safe water. The sector seeks solutions under the following sub-themes:

  1.  Solutions are needed to increase safe water availability in homes. Novel water treatment/purification technologies and cost-effective approaches to municipal water treatment are needed. New approaches to collection and storage of water at the household and community level are needed. Novel solutions to increase household and community WASH is also needed. Approaches to the elimination of water contamination and the characterization of water impurities are paramount.
  2. The increasing threat of climate change, scalable models for climate change mitigation and adaptation as well as scenarios-setting studies to quantify future water demand is necessary. There a need for better conservation technologies and approaches as well as behavior change and leadership models to drive their uptake. Novel community-driven approaches to increasing tree-planting on a large scale, carbon sink development and conservation of forest cover amidst growing pressure from development initiatives should be explored, as should social-behavioural incentives to increase the agency for local actions against climate change. In general, the sector needs evidence on how to achieve a balance between economic development and environmental protection (sustainable development).
  3.   Evidence on how to reduce damage to the environment from industrial and domestic pollutants is needed, including those from the Petroleum industry, plastics, and domestic refuse. Researchers may also provide insights into why climate policies fail and what needs to be done to get full policy buy-in. Innovations ineffective response to adverse climate events and disaster response are also necessary. The use of ICTs for better climate risk communication and environmental monitoring is a key gap area as well as the use of ICTs to monitor environmental pollution and air quality.
Theme 5: Harnessing the social sector, culture and arts to drive development

SDGs targeted: 8,10,5: The most pertinent challenge faced by the country regarding social development is youth unemployment was partly driven by lack of job and lack of skills. Other challenges relate to a lack of community agency to drive self-reliance as well as socio-cultural disparities that drive marginalization of some populations. Solutions are requested in the following subthemes:

  1.  The sector requests for evidence on how to stimulate jobs from a predominantly informal economy and also how to rapidly skill the youth to meet the needs of the job market (including soft and hard skills). New approaches to job-creation are needed while the youth need appropriate skilling to be employment ready. Research and innovation are needed on how to get Ugandan youth to benefit from new forms of job opportunities e.g. digital jobs, including out-sourcing opportunities and coding.
  2. The sector needs novel approaches to leveraging the creative arts as a force for development, a source of jobs for youth and as a source of increased contribution to the country’s revenue. Approaches to harnessing indigenous knowledge to address development challenges are necessary as are approaches to harnessing our culture and heritage to improve community agency for change.
  3. Solutions are needed to reduce the marginalization gap faced by vulnerable groups in society. For example, research is needed on how to overcome gender barriers to the advancement of society including gender-based violence, gender, and aging, and mainstreaming of gender into operational plans. Given Uganda’s position as one of the largest refugee-hosting populations, research is needed on how to improve refugee service delivery.
Theme 6: Harnessing tourism, wildlife and heritage to drive development

SDGs targeted: 15,14,13,8,1,12: Uganda’s tourism sector is growing and the country is well-positioned to be the leading tourist destination for the region. However, much more still needs to be done to unleash the county’s untapped tourism potential which is much higher than it is currently, and which can be a major source of revenue. Research and innovations are sought in the following priority sub-themes:

  1.  Research is needed on approaches to boost Uganda’s current tourism potential by increasing visibility and demand for available tourism products. Solutions are also needed to reduce the cost of accessibility to Uganda’s tourism destinations, novel ways in which local communities can benefit from local tourism, and how to increase domestic tourism by Ugandans.
  2.  Approaches to the diversification of Uganda’s tourism product range are needed (e.g. expansion of water-based tourism, hills as a tourism product, cultural tourism, and religious tourism. The sector also calls for models for value addition to wild-life goods and services. The sector also needs approaches for the preservation of positive cultural practices and heritage that promote tourism. Solutions are also needed for value addition to local art products to increase their international competitiveness as well as standards for ensuring the quality of these products.
Theme 7: Sustainable Planning, finance and monitoring as catalysts for growth

SDGs targeted: 1,8,11,12: Planning and finance are key cross-cutting sectors affecting development. Successful attainment of development goals needs adequate monitoring of national plans as well as sustainable financing methods including a progressive tax base. Solutions are needed in the following sub-themes:

  1.  The sector expressed the need for research and innovations that foster effective implementation of the National Development Plan and the Vision 2040. They need novel tools for the collection of routine data from informal sectors of the economy including crowd-sourcing of economic data as well as mining and visualization of big data to predict economic trends. Tools that support dynamic tracking of development initiatives and geo-location of development projects are welcome. There is also a need for new approaches for increasing the ability of communities to demand better accountability from public programs.
  2. There is a need for solutions to promote better urban planning in an already congested city (Kampala) as well as other up-coming cities.
  3. The revenue management sub-sector needs better tools and evidence to enhance tax compliance and increase the tax base especially from the informal sector. Approaches too expanding e-commerce and trade are welcome. Targeted studies are needed to establish the medium to long term effects of new taxes like the social media tax and mobile money taxes to the economy as well as best practices in tax exemptions and tax holidays.
  4.  New approaches to Financial Inclusion (access to credit, better savings, and affordable banking and money transactions) are needed especially for the rural poor. Research on new banking products and their reach to the unbanked population is pertinent.
Theme 8: Leveraging public service and local administration for efficient service delivery

SDGs targeted: 12,8,16,17: The mandate of the Public Service sector is to deliver effective and efficient social services to the people in a way that effectively reaches the last mile with a professional and competent civil service. The sector seeks solutions in the following sub-themes:

  1. The sector expressed the need for better tools and approaches to ensuring an efficient civil service that is accountable to the people in implementing government programs. Approaches to the digital transformation of public service delivery including strengthening of e-governance for better efficiency are needed. Evidence is also needed on how to better account for public servants’ time, especially in peripheral service delivery workplaces and how to ensure better provision of value for money.
  2. At the local government level, the sector expressed a need for approaches to sustainable finance for local governments including increasing their self-reliance. These avenues could include increasing their potential for local income generation but also using their autonomy, corporate stature, and credibility to solicit for bilateral donors and development impact investors.
Theme 9: Defence and security: Achieving sustainable peace and stability

SDGs targeted: 16: The defense and security sector has the mandate to ensure peace, security and the rule of law for citizens. A stable secure country is not only crucial for economic investment but is key to a good quality of life for the citizens. This is coordinated through the armed forces and other support systems for a secure country. The sector seeks to research and innovative ideas in the following sub-thematic areas:

  1. The sector has an interest in research and innovation outputs that improve the livelihoods of the men and women in uniform. Areas of interest to combatants’ livelihoods include Strategies for addressing gender-based violence among combatants’ households, addressing post-traumatic stress disorder, improving food-security for combatant families and re-imagining the food rations for active combatants. The Sector is also interested in solutions that lead to better livelihoods for veterans of the armed forces including sustainable models for their economic empowerment.
  2. The sector is interested in technologies and approaches to preserve peace and improve the security of the population and their property including data-driven approaches and artificial intelligence, ICT tools, and GIS mapping. Approaches to improving urban security and early identification and elimination of terrorist threats are needed. The sector also needs proposals on how to better engage communities in contributing to security through community policing and security vigilance.
Theme 10: Strengthening law, governance, human rights and international cooperation as pre-requisites for development

SDGs targeted: 16,17,10: This sector is vested in ensuring that justice is accessible to everyone and that democracy and protection by the law are ubiquitous. The sector also seeks to ensure adequate protection of human rights. The diplomacy sub-sector aims to promote regional and international cooperation for peace and mutual development. Solutions are needed in the following sub-thematic areas:

  1. Evidence and innovations are needed to increase awareness about the laws of Uganda and the accessibility to justice. The sector would like evidence on models for better coordination and collaboration with other sectors on litigation. They also need approaches to increase efficiency and performance outputs to drastically reduce the case backlog. Innovations are needed to increase out-of-court settlements. Mechanisms to increase land justice and to improve land-rights are also welcome. Legal and regulatory frameworks should be responsive to innovation. The sector also wants solutions that increase the ability to protect intellectual property.
  2. Mechanisms to improve legal services for vulnerable populations (including refugees, victims of sexual and gender-based violence, and very poor people) are welcome. The sector also requested for innovations in civil society accountability, including tools that can make NGOs more accountable to the communities.
  3. The regional and foreign affairs sub-sector needs more evidence on how to structure international and regional development aid to be more effective. They also need advice on improving resource mobilization for development including mobilization of the diaspora for active participation in national development. Quantification of the economic benefits of investments in regional peace efforts (including military interventions), regional integration, and membership to regional organizations and conventions on development are needed.
Theme 11: Harnessing Information and Communication Technology to drive development

SDGs targeted: 9,8,10: Information and Communication Technology is a cross-cutting sector that supports other sectors. The sector provides a backbone for communication to support service delivery but also promotes the use of ICT tools for more efficiency. The Sector is in the process of building an ICT backbone to support other sectors and to facilitate economic transformation. Research and innovations are needed in the following sub-themes:

  1.  Research on how to increase citizen participation in national programs using ICT tools and how to estimate this participation, innovative digital media to mobilize citizen participation in national programs, and approaches to expansion of E-Governance. Mechanisms to strengthen digital identification and to transform all Ugandans into active digital citizens are also welcome.
  2. The sector would also like to increase capacity for use of data (including big data and artificial intelligence) for development including forecasting, planning, monitoring of programs and for the development of applications that can improve service delivery. The sector would like innovations that increase the capacity of other sectors to develop and use electronic records
Theme 12: Works, manufacturing, science and technology as tools to accelerate development

SDGs targeted: 9,11,13,10: The works Sector is a services sector that supports other sectors through infrastructure development. The sector also includes the industrial and manufacturing sub-sector which is the engine for national development. The sector, therefore, relies on technology, investments in industrial development and a major national focus on industry driven economic transformation. Evidence is needed in the following priority sub-themes:

  1. There is also need for innovations in waste management for urban areas, including low-cost solutions for urban slum areas and solutions for better end-of-life management for batteries and other such waste items that contain toxic heavy metals. There is a need for innovations in wastewater drainage and management, to reduce clogging, flooding, and pollution.
  2. The sector expressed the need for research and innovations in the form of technologies and approaches to improve and optimize transport services, both between districts and in the urban areas especially Kampala. Approaches to reducing traffic congestion in Kampala City are welcome including ICT based technologies for real-time monitoring of traffic. Innovations to increase transportation safety on land and water are necessary. There is also a need for technologies to reduce transport-related carbon emissions and the resulting pollution. Approaches to reduce the cost of road construction are needed, as well as measures for better maintenance of roads and other infrastructure. Innovations in infrastructure to support industrial development are much needed. Research on road designs that can allow an increase in the weight of goods-vehicles on the roads is also needed so as to reduce long-distance transportation costs.
  3. Technologies and innovative solutions are needed for better and more efficient manufacturing processes to drive industrial production, especially those that use locally available raw materials. Adaptation and industrialization of local informal manufacturing technologies are also desirable. Innovations of new commercially viable machines for various production processes are needed.
  4. Innovations are needed in production of low cost but quality construction materials to boost the construction industry but also position Uganda as a leader in appropriate construction technology. Solutions are also needed in miniaturization of engineering solutions (e.g. robotics and 3-D printing).
Theme 13: Solutions to catalyse business and enterprise

SDGs targeted: 1,8,9,12: The business sector drives the economy. Uganda is ranked as the most entrepreneurial country in the world and the majority of start-ups and businesses are informal. However, the rate at which new businesses fail is high. Innovations are needed to develop a robust business sector that can survive strong economic head-winds to create a sustainable economy.

  1. There is a need for research evidence and innovations to support the growth of small and medium enterprises to become more sustainable, profitable and resilient. Approaches to skilling of entrepreneurs and innovative finance models to make businesses more resilient are needed. Research is also needed on innovative ways to increase access to finance and capital for small businesses, as well as reducing risk from lending to them. Novel commercial banking services and products that reduce the burden on businesses in a viable way are welcome. New models for private equity and impact investments by Ugandans in the diaspora are also welcome. Approaches to increasing the registration of small and informal businesses are needed. There is also a need for evidence on how taxation can best be structured to foster business development while optimizing the tax base. Innovations in the distribution and marketing chain for local products is needed, as is the need to increase the presence of locally produced materials on supermarket shelves. There is a need for infrastructure to support business innovations.
  2.  Innovations to increase e-commerce are necessary. Approaches to empowering small business owners to grow brands, and better market their products are also necessary as is the need to develop small-medium business owners’ capacity for succession planning for the sustainability of their businesses. Research and innovations to foster efficient distribution mechanisms for small scale producers (affordability and sustainability) are needed as is evidence on how to increase access to simple and affordable technology for small scale producers. There is also a need for research on how to expand external markets for Ugandan manufacturers.
  3. The sector also expressed the need for exploration of how to expand ‘work at home’ as a viable source of income for people, in this area include digital jobs. There is a need for innovations to reduce financial constraints for women in business. Measures to increase the economic productivity of refugees are needed.
Theme 14: Energy and Minerals as drivers of rapid economic development

SDGs targeted: 7,1,8,12: Energy drives production in the economy while minerals are a source of wealth that can accelerate national development. There is a need for more innovations in the energy and mineral sector as a direct link to increased revenue and jobs. Solutions are needed in the following priority sub-themes:

  1. There is also a need for research on novel clean/renewable energy sources as well as research on effective models to increase rural electrification. Study the most cost-effective and safe technology option to support industrialization (study on all the possible available technologies that are environmentally friendly. Research is needed on how to better dispose of solar batteries, how their components can be recycled.
  2.  The sector requires a detailed analysis to establish the mineral wealth potential of the country and to map this potential. This will enable the country to develop a strategic plan for development of its mineral wealth. The sector also needs solutions for better use of data and informatics to inform better planning. Research on health issues arising from local mining operations is also needed.
  3. Research is needed on models for proper use of Oil and Gas resources for economic development as well as better mechanisms for accountability in this emerging sub-sector of the economy. The impact of the policies/Laws on the Oil and Gas the sector to the economy should be understudies so as to propose better policy approaches.

The Government R&I Grant will cover all technical disciplines in Makerere University as long as the research questions align with the instructive research agenda themes above. Particular attention will be paid to unfunded priorities, those for which funding has been inadequate, or for which available funding only covers one or a few of the components needed to inform development initiatives in a holistic way. This grant is not primarily meant to supplement existing research projects that already have funding from other sources. However, researchers can apply on the platform of existing projects if they provide a strong justification that there are important funding gaps in the current research project, why addressing these gaps is crucial and the added deliverables expected from the additional support to the existing research effort. This grant also emphasizes a multi-sectoral approach. Research groups are therefore encouraged to work with other sectors that complement their technical focus.

A4. Categories and size of grants to be issued:

Grants will be issued in the following categories:


The R&I Grants Management Committee reserves the right to determine/change the number and size of awards based on prevailing circumstances informed by demand, quality of applications, availability of funds and level of utilization of funds by grantees. 50% of all awards will go to research or ecosystem strengthening projects while 50% will go innovation-based projects. ** Half of the grants in Category 3 will be given to Junior Faculty. Junior Researchers can apply as PIs in any of the categories listed above, but they will have a dedicated earmark of 12 projects in this category. Junior Faculty is not defined by age, but by rank and research experience. They are defined as researchers at the rank of Lecturer and below or researchers with less than 5 years of experience in research/innovation or less than 2 years as independent researchers/innovators, or have never been PIs for a research/innovation project greater than US$ 100,000 (or 365 Million Uganda Shillings).

A5. Grant principles

This grant is guided by the following principles:

  • A commitment to results and impact: This grant is committed to results and impact. The expectation is that researchers will address the most pressing development issues and that the findings generated from the research and innovation activities supported by this grant will be of use to policy makers, program implementers or the private sector. Research teams ought to demonstrate attainment of tangible and useful deliverables within 1 year of implementation, including projects that require multi-year funding.
  •  Equity and inclusion: Measures will be taken to ensure that all colleges will benefit from the fund. The GMC will also ensure that women researchers and junior faculty are well represented in the grant portfolio. However, equity will not mean equal allocation, because the nature, capacity and cost of research and innovation initiatives differs markedly across disciplines.
  •  Multi-disciplinarity: The development challenges we are seeking to solve require more than the effort of one sector. It is therefore important that researchers demonstrate a multi-disciplinary approach to the research-to-translation continuum, reflected through the problems selected, the technical proposals, and their team composition.
  •   Accountability and utilization of funds: To protect the University’s and the researchers’ reputation and ensure continuity of this funding, accountability for the RIF will be of utmost importance. All funds disbursed should be accounted for in a timely way and to acceptable standards (both financial and implementation). The GMC will therefore regularly track all awardee performance. Researchers with substantial accountability arrears and those who do not utilize allocated funds will in the absence of an acceptable the justification be temporarily stopped from accessing these funds in the future.

B1. Guidelines for Eligibility

This grant targets researchers and innovators from Makerere University. This includes Makerere University appointed academic staff (Assistant Lecturers, Lecturers, Senior Lecturers, Associate Professors and Professors) and research staff who hold a valid and current appointment (research fellows and senior research fellows). Academic staff from all Colleges of Makerere University are eligible to apply as well as senior staff from the following administrative units (Library, Gender Mainstreaming, Guidance and Counselling, Quality Assurance, Planning, and the Directorate of Research and Graduate Training). Individual researchers or research teams will be required to have a letter of support from the Head of the academic unit under which the lead researcher is tenured. Researchers from other institutions of higher learning are not eligible to apply as principal investigators. However, researchers from other HEIs can be included as co-investigators or resource persons. Students may not apply as PIs but may also, be part of a research team whose PI is an academic staff. Collaboration with research personnel with a minimum of a master’s degree from civil society organizations, independent research institutions, business and industry is encouraged. To be eligible for funding, a research team should meet the following criteria:

  1.  The Principal Investigator (PI) should be an academic or research staff of Makerere University on permanent or fulltime contract or a senior staff member from one of the administrative units linked to research (Library, Gender Mainstreaming, Quality Assurance, Guidance and Counselling, Planning and the Directorate of Research and Graduate Training (DRGT))
  2. The PI must not be a holder of a current award under RIF-Round 1 as PI; however, RIF 1 PIs are allowed to be on teams
  3.  The PI should be actively in service (not on study or sabbatical leave)
  4.  The PI should obtain a letter of support from his/her department or school or College (any one of the three)
  5.  The PI should attach a copy of his/her appointment letter or most-recent letter of promotion issued by the Directorate of Human Resource of Makerere University
  6. A researcher cannot be a PI on more than TWO applications. It is allowable for any person (PI or not) to be on up to a maximum of three applications.
  7.  Researchers from Makerere University are encouraged to collaborate with resource persons from civil society organizations, government sectors, other universities within and outside Uganda, independent research institutions, business and industry as part of their teams; in such cases, the external team members will provide a letter of support from their institution.

Research fellows working in projects within academic units but are not appointed centrally by Makerere University are not eligible as PIs but may be part of a research team. Students, in general, are not eligible to apply as PIs. However, students with strong ideas can market them to their academic supervisors/mentors who can apply on their behalf

C1. The research problem

The RIF is meant to fill research gaps arising from development priorities of government and it’s implementing partners. Only research/innovation problems that have a clear link to the national development priorities and align with the thematic priorities of the comprehensive multi-stakeholder research agenda will be funded. The proposed solution (research or innovation) must be articulated clearly including the knowledge or intervention gap it is trying to address. Research problems will also be assessed on the basis of their responsiveness to the needs of government, industry, and academia. Researchers should ask themselves the question: “If you were a decision-maker in the government sector, would this research be very useful to you?” Three broad types of research gaps are anticipated: 1) Those that need primary research to fill a critical knowledge gap, 2) Those that need an innovation (technology or approach) to address a critical pain point or community need, and 3) Those that target research or innovation (R&I) ecosystem enhancement to overcome a major barrier that prevents high-value research from being conducted.  For projects that require research, the research problem (i.e. the discrepancy between the current knowledge and the desired knowledge) should be clearly articulated. For projects that are innovation-based, a clear articulation of the stakeholder need/pain-point that needs the solution should be articulated. For projects that require ecosystem enhancement, the discrepancy between the existing capacity for research services and the desired capacity should be clearly articulated. All three types of problems should be aligned with one or more themes in the research agenda.

C2. The proposed solution

Researchers should clearly articulate the objectives of the planned research and the proposed solutions. Researchers should also describe the critical content of the solution (i.e. the ‘research methodology’ for projects that are primarily research, or the ‘technical approach’ for projects that are innovation based, or the content of the planned enhancement for projects targeting R&I ecosystem enhancement).  Researchers should defend the relevance of the proposed solution to addressing key development outcomes of the respective sector and its alignment to one or more thematic areas specified in this call. Researchers/innovators should also demonstrate that the research is feasible and will result in tangible results within one (1) year of execution. Research projects that require multi-year implementation will only be considered if they can show actionable intermediate results attainable within 1 implementation year. Apart from a summary of the proposed approach, researchers will provide a more detailed description of their technical approach to enable a robust assessment of the rigor of the proposed methodology. For research-based projects, researchers should describe clearly but concisely the methods proposed, demonstrating scientific merit and rigor. For innovation-based projects, researchers should describe concisely the design approach to be used and the stage of the solution proposed. For R&I ecosystem enhancement-based projects, a description of the content of the enhancement (e.g. specialized training activities or specialized equipment to be procured, its installation, specialized training in its use) should be provided. (Note: Training in basic research skills or procuring simple routine equipment shall not be considered unless it is part of a holistic system upgrade).

C3. Outputs, outcomes and impact

Researchers will be expected to describe clearly the outputs anticipated to arise from their research projects. Outputs are the immediate tangible results of the research or innovation activities undertaken. Beyond outputs, applicants will describe the anticipated outcomes and impacts of the solution they propose. The target populations (primary and secondary) to be involved in and impacted by the research should be clearly described as well as the anticipated reach of the outcomes and impacts stated. Since this funding is specific to the current financial year, projects must demonstrate clearly the deliverables they expect within one year, matching the level of investment made and attainable in the 1-year timeframe.

Often times, science requires more than one year of implementation to effectively answer the required study questions. However, since the available funding has been committed for one Financial Year, all proposed projects including multi-year projects must articulate clearly the deliverables expected to be attained within one (1) year. Within particular funding round, research proposals will not receive grants that span more than one year. However, cognizant of the fact that some projects require longer timelines, Round 2 and Round 3 funding will be provided for in the subsequent years' Projects wishing to attract Round 2 and 3 funding will compete for this funding with new applications for extension funding

C4. Team composition

Researchers may apply individually or in teams. Team applications will be at an added advantage but are not absolute. Individuals or teams should demonstrate that they have the technical expertise to execute the planned study. Disciplines relevant to the proposed research question/innovation challenge should be represented. For research areas where a multi-sectoral/multi-disciplinary approach is clearly needed, the extent to which the composition of the team covers the pertinent sectors/disciplines will be important. Teams that include industry, business, sector or implementing agency partner will have an added advantage.

C5. Provision for capacity development

Research and innovations that include a capacity-building component will be at an advantage. Researchers should articulate how they expect their research project to build capacity for stakeholders and their own departments. Examples could include mentorship of junior researchers, equipment, and training of investigators, students, research fellows or research assistants. Co-designing of the research methodology or participation in field implementation, data management or analysis are other possible avenues for capacity building. Projects may include provisions for students to benefit from the research process and may even involve teams of students from different academic disciplines working together.

C6. Dissemination Plan/Scalability/Sustainability

Since this fund is aimed at supporting government and its partners to improve service delivery and to accelerate development, researchers/Innovators should show a clear plan for dissemination their findings to audiences critical for policy and program change so as to achieve impact at scale. For primarily research-based projects, this will include a clear description of the knowledge translation and dissemination plan to stakeholders in the relevant sectors including the knowledge products anticipated to arise from the study (e.g. policy briefs, knowledge briefs, publications, etc.). Research without a clear link to dissemination or policy/program impact will not be funded. Innovation-based projects should articulate a scaling strategy, including linkage to scaling partners within the industry (for commercially viable enterprises), or within the relevant public sectors (for innovations targeted to the public) or within relevant implementing agencies (for social enterprises). Innovations targeting commercial interest should demonstrate the anticipated commercial potential, anticipated demand, anticipated patents/copy-rights/industrial design claims/trademarks if applicable and the path to commercialization. Innovations targeting social impact (social innovations) should elucidate the path to wide-scale community uptake. Teams that already have the necessary connections to sector ministries, implementing partner agencies (e.g. NGOs) or industry partners should articulate these connections.

For research and innovation initiatives that are expected to run longer than 3 years, researchers should articulate the sustainability of their projects beyond the RIF funding. Sustainability may also mean the availability of co-funding or continued funding beyond RIF. However, for projects that have already received or anticipated funding from elsewhere, researchers should show how the RIF funding fits into the broader funding structure.

C7. Ethical implications and Environmental Impact

For research or innovation projects involving human subjects and are not benign investigations, researchers should clearly articulate the anticipated ethical challenges if any, how subjects will be protected and how they will obtain the relevant ethical certifications. If your research involves animal subjects, in what ways are animal subjects involved and how will the animals be protected? How will animal welfare be ensured? For research that involves changes to the physical environment, researchers should explain the measures to ensure minimal damage to the environment and to monitor and act on such damage.

C8. Conflict of interest declaration

Researchers will declare if there is any conflict of interest regarding their project e.g. if it is co-funded by an industry partner that may compromise the impartiality of the team or the outcomes of the study. Teams with strong linkages to GMC members should declare this so that it is duly addressed during the selection process.

C9. Budget

Researchers will prepare a summary budget for their project. Budgets should be submitted in the official currency (Uganda Shillings).  Because these are university funds, academic units (Departments, Schools, and Colleges) will not charge institutional overheads to any of the research funds. Budgets should not spread beyond one Financial Year. Projects requiring multi-year implementation should indicate so in the application. However, such projects should only provide a budget for one Financial Year. Multi-year budgets will only be funded to the extent needed for this financial year and within the grant caps indicated in the grant categories. Failure to articulate a one (1) year budget might lead to disqualification. The budgets will include the following sections:

  • 0 Personnel costs
  • 0 Travel
  • 0 Supplies and services
  • 0 Equipment
  • 0 Program activity costs
  • 0 Dissemination

Under Personnel costs, applicants should not budget for ‘Salaries’ for staff who are paid a salary by Makerere University or another Government of Uganda institution (whether on permanent or contract terms) as this would constitute double payment from government funds. However, salaries can be included for critical project staff that is not paid by Makerere or the Government of Uganda e.g. Project Coordinators. Researchers can budget for ‘activity-based’ or ‘level-of-effort-based’ costs for their additional time input and that of other resource persons. Personnel costs excluding field research assistants should not exceed 33% of the budget. Field research assistants if needed should be included under ‘Program Activity Costs’. All salaries and all repetitive allowances will be subject to mandatory statutory deductions at source, to pay the relevant taxes.


In addition to the summary budget, research teams will be required to attach a detailed budget (As an MS Excel attachment) that breaks down all expenditure line items, inclusive of a budget justification that explains the rationale behind the different budget items. Teams that do not attach a detailed budget and budget justification might not be evaluated. The level of efficiency in the budget will be a major evaluation criterion.

C10. Workplan

Researchers will provide a list of key milestones for the project clearly demonstrating the deliverables expected at each point. These will be used as the basis for tracking the implementation of activities towards project goals and outputs. Given the time implications of the awards, it will be important that researchers commit to a clear time-bound set of deliverables all achievable within one year for the main deliverable targeted during the current period of funding. Failure to articulate a one (1) year plan will imply the inability to utilize the grant funds within one (1) year.

D1. Submission of applications

For the present round, applications will open on Friday 20th March 2020. Submission of applications will be done via an online platform: Applicants must first register in the grants website in order to access the application. The Grants Committee will not consider applications submitted by any other means. Applicants are therefore advised to prepare their submissions on-time. If an applicant experiences any challenges in the submission process, they should send an email to: . The closing date for submissions is Friday 24th May 2020.

D2. Application form

The application form is available on-line at the following link: Because it is a one-step application, applicants should read and understand all the key requirements of the different sections of the form so as to provide all the critical information required within the word limit provided. All entries will be conducted on-line. However, applicants can down-load a PDF/MS Word version of the form to enable preparations before filling in the domains. Applicants can also copy and paste information into the online application domains.

D3. Rules governing applications

All applications should be written in English. All applications should be submitted via the online portal mentioned above. Complete applications must be submitted not later than 11.59 pm East African Time on the closing date. No submissions after the closure of applications will be accepted. Any attempt at the solicitation of acceptance beyond this date will not be entertained. The Grants Committee bears no responsibility for submissions that are not completed in time and incomplete submissions will not be considered. If no application meets the required threshold to receive a grant, the call maybe reopened at the sole discretion of the Grants Management Committee. An individual researcher should not submit more than TWO applications as a principal investigator. However, it is allowable for a PI on a submitted project to be a co-investigator on up to two other submitted projects.

Participants agree to assume any and all risks, and waive claims against Makerere University and the Grants Management Committee for any injury, death, damage, or loss of property, revenue, or profits, whether direct, indirect, or consequential, arising from their participation in this grant implementation.

D4. Applicant support

Sensitization: The GMC will hold an online meeting (due to the COVID-19 pandemic) at Facebook Live using the Makerere University official Facebook account ( on Friday 27/03/2020 at 11:00am to present key aspects of the grant. Subsequent sessions will be held with the Colleges on dates to be provided.

Q&A: Applicants will have an opportunity to ask questions and obtain answers/clarifications regarding this RFP or any part of the application process. The question submission period will run from Monday 30/03/2020 to Monday 13/04/2020. Questions should be submitted to The Questions and Answers will be posted on the FAQ section on the platform website  by Friday 17/04/2020.

Webinar: The Grants Management Committee will host a public webinar on Friday 17/04/2020 as a support opportunity for potential applicants needing additional support. College-level sensitization activities may also be conducted.

D5. Review of applications

A three (3) step application evaluation process will be used. Step 1 will involve determination of eligibility. This will be conducted by the GMC Secretariat to select only those applications that fit within the eligibility criteria specified in sub-section B1 of this document. Step 2 will involve a detailed technical review, undertaken by an independent team of credible reviewers (Ugandan and international) appointed by the GMC and aligned to the technical expertise required of the different applications. The review process will take a cross-disciplinary approach in which in addition to subject matter experts, reviewers from other disciplines that align with the core-discipline of the research idea will be engaged. Reviewers will conduct an electronic scoring of the applications based on standardized criteria. Each proposal will be reviewed by atleast 2 reviewers. A shortlist of the best proposals will be provided to the GMC. In Step 3 of the review, the GMC which will select from the best scoring proposals the ones to be funded. This will be strongly guided by the scores and recommendations from Step 2. However, the GMC will consider additional aspects like clear link to the funder’s vision and the research agenda themes as well as impact within the relevant sector, equity between Colleges, consideration of gender and junior faculty, the budgets and the funds available.

D6. Evaluation criteria

The following evaluation criteria will be used:

D7. Notification of successful applicants

Successful applicants will be informed by email to their designated point of contact. Successful teams will also be profiled on the grants website: Researchers should be cognizant of the fact that not all research applicants should expect to be funded - this is a normal part of grants processes. The GMC will be as impartial and as technical as possible in the selection process to ensure that the best projects win. Not winning a grant should therefore not be construed as being a result of an unfair selection process. GMC members have sworn an oath of impartiality and readiness to serve with diligence.

D8. Tracking your application

The grant website will contain information on the status of the applications at the different stages. Tracking will be provided for the entire batch of applications and not for individual applications.

D9. Post award processes

Due to the urgent need to produce results and ensure accountability, the GMC and its Secretariat will conduct a series of post-award activities to awardees. While these will target as little interference as possible, they will be focused on ensuring that set milestones are achieved, the evidence of anticipated deliverables is available and that funds are accounted for in time. In particular, support processes will include:

  • Induction: A brief post-award induction
  • Contracting: The GMC will execute an agreement with the awardees on the terms and conditions of the award.
  • Capacity building: The GMC Secretariat will provide inductive orientation for researchers (open to both awardees and non-awardees) on 1) Research project management; 2) Financial Management; 3) Research Leadership; 4) Gender and inclusiveness in research and 5) Research translation for impact. Schedules of this training will be made available in due course. These courses will also be made continually available for long term capacity building.
  • Release of funds: Release of funds will be in phases incumbent on proper accountability and demonstration of milestones achieved in the previous payment phase.
  • Tracking of deliverables, performance, and accountability: The Grant Secretariat will conduct continuous checks on awardees to ensure deliverables are met, funds are utilized, and releases are accounted for. Consistent failure to demonstrate deliverables or utilize funds might lead to the issuance of unspent balances to other grantees. Therefore for the avoidance of large amounts of unspent balances, the GMC will maintain dynamic tracking of the performance of projects and might decide to reallocate non-performing awards to those that need them.
  • Reporting: Awardee researchers will provide interim reports every three (3) months using a standard reporting form that will be provided by the GMC.
D10. Intellectual property

Intellectual Property derived through the Government grants will be owned jointly by the awardee Teams and Makerere University. All awardee teams grant to Makerere University and the Government of Uganda are non-exclusive, royalty-free, perpetual license to use any resultant or derived intellectual property (e.g. product, service, or technology) that will be developed using the Government grants for development work of public benefit without encumbrance. However for projects that have a commercial value, researchers will clearly delineate any intellectual property included that is their creation. The GMC will undertake a determination of what percentage of stake the university will claim on the basis of its investment into the idea. Notwithstanding this, the researchers retain the bulk of the claim to intellectual property arising from their project. All proceeds accruing from commercialization of IP generated via government grants, following the conclusion of the grant period will be negotiated on a case-by-case basis amongst the parties, but with the researchers taking a controlling stake.

D11. Grant timeline

D12. Subsequent RFAs within this Financial Year’s funding

At the discretion of the Grants Management Committee, subsequent calls within this round or new rounds of calls may be issued within this Financial Year, depending on availability of resources, the performance of awardees, and other provisions within the Framework document and Terms of Reference for management of the Government RIF.

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