Global Partnerships Seedcorn Fund

Earth from space

The aim of the Global Partnerships Seedcorn Fund is to support UK environmental science researchers to forge new partnerships and networks with the best international researchers, wherever they are located, and seed collaborations that will be sustained beyond the lifetime of the grant.

The Global Partnerships Seedcorn Fund supports a single level of grant with one closing date in May each year. One or more new international project partners are mandatory.

Global Partnerships Seedcorn Fund - Announcement of Opportunity February 2019

Closing date: 15 Apr

27 Feb 2019

NERC is inviting proposals to its Global Partnerships Seedcorn Fund.

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Environmental science is inherently global in nature. Many of the biggest environmental challenges the world faces do not respect national boundaries. Advancing our understanding of the environment and developing innovative solutions to these challenges requires UK researchers to collaborate with the best international researchers wherever they are located.

Since 2010, through its International Opportunities Fund (IOF) scheme NERC has provided pump-priming funds to support the development of new long-term international collaborations. The proportion of grants across NERC funding streams including at least one international project partner has increased from 21% in 2012 to 32% in 2016. Additional analysis of publication and citation rates between 2012-2015 has showed that grants with international collaboration produce more publications at a faster rate and with greater citation impact than those without international collaboration. These observations are supported by the 2016 Elsevier report on the International Comparative Performance of the UK Research Base (PDF) - external link, which concluded that the UK rate of international co-authorship is rising.

From this analysis and others, it is clear that UK researchers highly benefit from international collaboration, both in terms of successful funding applications and the impact of the resulting research. It is important that NERC continues to support the development of international collaborations that maintain and increase these benefits across the UK environmental science research community.

In mid-2017, NERC carried out a community consultation on its international funding provision. A large proportion of responses indicated that there was a need for more 'seedcorn' funding, to help researchers initiate international collaborations.

Considering the increasing importance of international partnerships for research and taking into account the feedback from our community consultation in 2017, NERC has replaced the International Opportunities Fund scheme with the Global Partnerships Seedcorn Fund. Focused on non-ODA research, the new scheme will provide better and more flexible support to enable UK researchers to establish sustainable long-term partnerships with international collaborators and reap the benefits that these relationships deliver.

The Global Partnerships Seedcorn Fund has the following objectives:

  • Support new international collaborations with the best researchers wherever they are located that will result in excellent research that is developing new knowledge that cannot be achieved by individual national research communities alone or by existing collaborations.

  • Support development of long-term partnerships with international scientists that have potential to become self-sustaining beyond the lifetime of the grant. For example, through accessing new collaborative research funding opportunities.

  • Pilot new collaborative research ideas with international partners or enhance existing funded research through adding an international dimension or expanding the international partners already engaged.


2018 - onwards

2010 - 2017 (International Opportunities Fund)

Can I apply for a grant?

Closing date for the Global Partnerships Seedcorn Fund will be in May each year. Please see the relevant annual announcement of opportunity for specific dates.


Applicants may request funding of a maximum of £100,000 at 100% full economic cost for up to two years' duration.

Programme awards

Global Partnerships Seedcorn Fund award details will be published on our online grants browser after the awards have been made.

View details of active Global Partnerships Seedcorn Fund awards - external link

View details of previous IOF awards - external link