IDRC: Strengthening engineering research and training in Africa


International Development Research Council (IDRC)


Foundations for Innovation

For More Information

Call for Expressions of Interest


IDRC seeks to bridge the gap between the supply of, and demand for, research and training in applied science fields to support direct applications to socioeconomic development at the regional and national scales.

This call for proposals challenges universities as well as public and private stakeholders to develop and implement novel ways of delivering quality and relevant training and research  in engineering and applied science fields.

In particular, this call for expressions of interest targets applicants along two distinct streams:

Stream 1. Industrial research hubs: partnerships for a new applied research agenda

Value: up to CA $600,000 over four years

This stream targets research-intensive universities in West and Central Africa who seek to strengthen linkages with public or private firms (or associations, intermediaries, etc.) to develop mutually beneficial research and training activities.

Matching funds (cash or in-kind) are required, either from the collaborating firms, the university itself or from other national, regional or international funding organizations. There is an option for supplementary funding to support collaboration with a Canadian university.

Eligibility criteria:

The lead university must:

  • be based in West or Central Africa;
  • designate principal investigators with sufficient experience, expertise and access to sufficient infrastructure to perform research in a the selected field;
  • have recognized advanced training programs in the selected fields of applied science or engineering, ideally at the Masters’ or PhD level, and ideally involving some existing relationship with public or private firms in this field.

The collaborating companies, associations, or technology intermediaries must have:

  • existing links to the lead university (e.g., through internships, faculty exchange, research collaborations, service contracts, etc.);
  • a strong presence in West or Central Africa, preferably in proximity to the lead university.

Stream 2. Rethinking the engineering ‘ecosystem’: new pilots for building capacity in research and advanced training in engineering

Value: up to CA $300,000 over three years

This stream targets research or implementing organizations (or consortia) who aim to inform how national or regional engineering systems operate in sub-Saharan Africa, by piloting new research or training modules, building new knowledge of the ‘ecosystem’ based on these pilots, and developing networks and partnerships that have the potential for scaling-up activities at a regional and a national level.

This call challenges these organizations to find new ways of addressing ‘systemic’ challenges to engineering research and education in Africa. This includes, but is not limited to: inadequate access to small and medium enterprises to relevant research; a lack of exchange opportunities (for students and faculty) with firms; a lack of uptake of research into public and private sectors; and inadequate engineering and licensure processes, among others.

Eligibility criteria:

  • a strong presence, well-developed networks, and experience working in sub-Saharan Africa, preferably in more than one country;
  • experience and expertise in fields such as engineering education, research policy, or higher education policy;
  • experience working with national or regional policymakers, as well as key engineering organizations; and
  • experience in administering funds, preferably on a competitive basis, for research and education.

Maximum Project Value

Stream 1: up to CA $600,000 over four years
Stream 2: up to CA $300,000 over three years

Indirect Costs

Please allow for 12% indirect cost rate in the budget for funds coming to the University of Guelph


If College-level review is required, your College will communicate its earlier internal deadlines.

Internal Deadline

Please submit a draft letter of support and a draft copy of the Expression of Interest (if available), along with an OR-5 Form to Please indicate the amount of funding anticipated to come to the University of Guelph on the OR-5 Form. University of Guelph researchers collaborating with a lead institution should contact Office of Research Services as soon as possible to coordinate the letter of support required for the Stream 1 Expression of Interest. 

External Deadline

If you are eligible, please send your application and supporting documents to

How to Apply

This is a call for expressions of interest in the form of a letter of no more than 1000 words (an additional supporting letter is required from the collaborating institution in the case of Stream 1), in English or in French.

Letters must demonstrate that the applicant meets the eligibility criteria listed in the call document. Applications will be assessed on their clarity and completeness, as well as on the relevance and the soundness of the project they describe.

Selected candidates will be invited to submit a full proposal. 

Information For Co-applicants

If you need to meet a deadline set by the lead institution for this opportunity, please ensure that you provide the Office of Research with at least five days in advance of the lead institution’s deadline to review the application, or your proposed component of the project. Please be in touch with the Office of Research (contact information below) ahead of the deadline if it looks like it will be difficult for you to submit all the required documentation on time (i.e. budget, proposal, OR-5 Form).

For Questions, please contact

Office of Research

Katie Meyer Beck, Director, Research Support Services
Research Services Office
519-824-4120 x54059

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