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Calls for Proposals for the Strategic Research Program
February 18-March 27, 2016Washington D.C.

The Development Economics Vice-Presidency in the World Bank Group (WBG) is calling for proposals for the World Bank Strategic Research Program (SRP) which is now in its third year of operation. The SRP, a multi-donor Trust Fund, primarily funded by DFID, carries out research programs and projects related to development economics; disseminates the knowledge and lessons learned to give countries and stakeholders access to evidence-based research and to enhance capacity in developing countries.

The World Bank Group has committed itself to the twin goals of ending extreme poverty by 2030 and boosting shared prosperity. To achieve these goals, the WBG has recognized the need for a results-based approach to development, which in turn requires a foundation of world-class development research. The SRP seeks to provide this foundation by supporting a program of research across a range  of development policy, focusing on understanding different outcomes across the world  the elements needed for policies and strategies to deliver  sustained high growth, shared prosperity, and significantly less poverty across  countries. The expected output of the program is an authoritative body of evidence on important policies compiled through rigorous research.

Scope of Research and Geographic Focus

This Call for Proposals has seven thematic focus areas which are shown below.  Some of these themes look at cross cutting issues such as data, science of delivery, risk management and vulnerability, shared prosperity and inclusion, and global public goods. The following section is a guide to applicants on the scope of the Call, and provides examples (but not an exclusive list) of the kinds of questions and issues that are expected to be addressed.  The Call will not support work that falls outside of these seven thematic areas.  The research questions and issues can be found in the https://srptf.org/?q=node/5 under each theme below.

1. Private Sector Development;
2. Financial Development;
3. Education;
4. Trade and Globalization;
5. Agricultural and Rural Development;
6. Transport;
7. Energy.

The SRP will fund research that generates new knowledge with significant potential to benefit the lives of poor people in developing countries in Africa, South Asia and the Middle East and North Africa regions. It will also fund research in low income countries and countries with high levels of extreme poverty in other regions.   Proposals should consider, where appropriate and possible, analysis from a gender perspective and where data is collected, this should be in a disaggregated form.

The Call will fund two different types of research proposals: small grants and program grants. The small grants are for proposals (up to $200K) that will fund well-defined research projects addressing a specific question. The program grants will provide a strategic orientation of research towards a larger and broader objective. These will be larger proposals (about $1 million), defining well integrated programs of research rather than focusing on crafting tightly focused individual research projects.

Collaboration between external agencies (e.g., university and think tank) and a world bank’s team (at Headquarter or country offices) is strongly encouraged in the preparation of the proposals.  If needed, the SRP Administrative Unit will help match the external researchers with Bank teams.  The final proposals should include a clear statement of the collaboration with relevant research and operations units in the WBG during execution.  Additional weighting will be given to research proposals that actively demonstrate links between research and operations/policy.  

For all approved program proposals, a workshop at the WBG will have to be conducted to further seek input and feedback about the proposed program from both operations and research staff.  All selected proposals, either by individual researchers or teams in any institution, will be engaged as a Bank consultant or Bank vendor in accordance with the WBG Procurement rules and General Conditions of Contract for Operational Consulting Services.

Application Process and the Deadline

The SRP is managed by the Development Economics Vice-Presidency in coordination with the regions and Global Practices/Cross Cutting Solution Areas, and working through the Bank’s Council of Chief Economists.  For the first time, the Call is open to external researchers, in collaboration with the World Bank Group, priority will be given to proposals that cover any of the research themes and geographic focus indicated above.

Applicants are required to follow a two-step process: (a) prepare a maximum 3-page concept note, and (b) if it is approved, prepare a full proposal.  Full proposals will be peer reviewed by external and internal experts who have expertise in the particular research area. The Research Management Committee of the SRP will select and approve new research grants by the end of July 2016.  The deadline to submit the concept note is March 27 2016, and deadline for the proposal is May 22 2016.

Please visit https://srptf.org/?q=call-proposals for further information on the application process, including criteria for selection, templates, and timetable.  Please submit your query or completed applications to SRP@worldbankgroup.org