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Transforming North-South research partnerships: Lessons learned from energy, technology & enterprise global challenge research fund projects

Robinson, Benjamin L.; Clifford, Mike J.; Jewitt, Sarah


Benjamin L. Robinson

Professor of Human Geography and Development


The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) provided a mechanism for academia to undertake projects relevant to the Sustainable Development Goals but there have been limited opportunities to critically interrogate such projects. In this paper we will use the Technology Implementation Model for Energy to deconstruct the purpose, assumptions and expectations, engagement strategies, and reflective processes of four GCRF projects in order to better understand relationships between researchers and those being researched. Thus, the aim of this paper is to explore and understand the lived experiences of four inter-disciplinary GCRF Primary Investigators implementing poverty alleviating technologies in a range of sectors to generate recommendations that can be applied to wider academic communities engaging with vulnerable populations.

Our key findings show that despite the integration of Theory of Change models and the Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) framework in GCRF-funded projects, project aims continue to be driven by researchers rather than reflecting end-user needs. Whilst some projects looked to generate feelings of ownership, adequate engagement strategies and reflective learning practices, these processes are often not formally embedded in project activities resulting in a decoupling of researcher expectations and end-user assumptions – ultimately derailing project outcomes. Our recommendations for academics operating within the International Development space are to 1) Talk early, often and transparently, 2) Keep Thinking – who benefits?, 3) Be reflective, responsive, and open to change and, 4) Use a systematic approach to facilitate this process.


Robinson, B. L., Clifford, M. J., & Jewitt, S. (2022). Transforming North-South research partnerships: Lessons learned from energy, technology & enterprise global challenge research fund projects. Energy Research and Social Science, 93, Article 102837.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 5, 2022
Online Publication Date Oct 14, 2022
Publication Date Nov 1, 2022
Deposit Date Oct 10, 2022
Publicly Available Date Oct 15, 2023
Journal Energy Research and Social Science
Print ISSN 2214-6296
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 93
Article Number 102837
Keywords Social Sciences (miscellaneous); Energy Engineering and Power Technology; Fuel Technology; Nuclear Energy and Engineering; Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
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