Funding to kick-start new and innovative research collaborations with the African Research Universities Alliance


Applications for the Imperial - ARUA Research Seed Fund are closed.

ARUA, which was inaugurated in 2015, is an alliance of 16 top research-intensive universities across Sub Saharan Africa. ARUA is intended to develop local research excellence through collaboration to find solutions to the development problems of Africa. 

The ARUA – Imperial Research Seed Fund promotes and supports early-stage collaboration among academics, researchers and students at Imperial and ARUA member institutions. The fund encourages exchange between participating research groups through provision of grants to cover travel, workshops, meetings, hackathons, networks and other activities to explore research directions. 


Types of Projects

The goal is to support both Imperial and partner academics to initiate and pursue collaborations that ideally lead to new science and to future applications for external funding.

Funds can be requested to support one or more of the following activities:  

  • Exploratory research, travel costs and other activities that often do not receive financial support at the earliest stages. Imperial funds can also be used to support small-scale experiments or the development of prototypes
  • Outward/inward visits for academics, research staff and students to investigate the potential for, initiate, follow-up, or work on a collaborative project or training opportunity, and for other stakeholder engagement
  • ‘Hackathon’ or other collaborative day or week-long events involving staff and students from both institutions to explore new risky and ‘blue skies’ research directions and ideas
  • Longer stays for students or research staff (up to maximum 2 months) to learn new techniques, analyse results or undertake other activities
  • Set up of new networks to promote the exchange of ideas, best practice, and other research goals
  • Networking events such as workshops and seminars to bring together researchers to foster new links or strengthen existing collaborations
  • Facilitation fees for online workshops (to encourage innovative ways of online interaction)
  • Payment for student assistance (to encourage student engagement in projects)




This call has a total budget of £50,000 from Imperial, to be awarded to up to 10 successful ARUA and Imperial collaborating teams.  

Total project budget requests are not expected to exceed £10,000. Funds can only be spent on activities which fit the purpose of this call. Applicants are asked to itemise their budget using the tables in the application form (please see application form for details).   

All funds will be paid to the Imperial PI to manage locally and in line with standard College guidance.   

The applicants also declare that the grant award will not be used for any item(s) funded or pending funding from other sources. 

Eligible costs 


eligible / not eligible  

Student support costs  (e.g., student bursaries) 




Travel, accommodation and subsistence  


Networking events such as e-workshops and e-seminars


Bench fees  

not eligible 

Indirect and estate costs 

not eligible 

Salary costs (staff) 

not eligible  

Eligibility and Process

At Imperial, the fund is open to permanent members of staff only.  

One proposal per principal applicant per call is permitted.  

Each application should have one principal applicant based at Imperial and one principal applicant at an ARUA member institution and should contain a written case for support to address the following aspects:  

  1. A description of the relevant research/training conducted by individuals/groups at Imperial/ARUA Institutions in recent years
  2. A description of the activities and collaboration proposed
  3. Explanation of how the activities proposed will generate demonstrable added value to the PI / Research Group / Department / Faculty / College / University
  4. A description of the opportunities available for leveraging funding

Review and Selection

 The panel will rank the proposals based on: 

  • Excellence of the research/teaching
  • Fit to call (i.e., early-stage collaboration, risky or blue skies ideas and collaborations that might not otherwise be pursued)
  • Likelihood to create impact
  • Value for money
  • Potential strategic value of the partnership

Key Dates

Application Close 

31 July 2023 

Feedback and revision for shortlisted projects  

August 2023 

Result Announcement 

By end August 2023 

Project Commences 

01 September 2023 (Project duration: Up to 11 months) 

Project Completion 

By 31 July 2024 (extensions will not be granted)