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Frequently asked questions

Q1. Can an organization submit more than one proposal?

Yes. An organization can submit a maximum of two applications as a Lead Applicant Organization. For large organizations (e.g. universities), different departments or faculties within the same institution may be considered to be different Lead Applicant Organizations for this purpose.

An organization may apply as a Co-Applicant Organization on multiple applications.

Q2. Is there a limit on the number of applications that an individual can be a part of?

An individual can be listed as a team member on a maximum of two applications and can only be a Principal Investigator on one application. Third-party applicants are excluded from this limit.

Q3. Can individuals apply to this Call for Concept Notes or are they required to apply as part of an institution?

IDRC is only able to grant project funds to institutions and is unable to grant directly to individuals. The relationship of the Principal Investigator with the Lead Applicant Organization must be clearly explained in the proposal.

Q4. Can an organization based in a LMIC other than the study countries of focus apply?

Yes. Any organization from an eligible LMIC as defined by the 2020 DAC List of ODA recipients may apply to this Call. Note that to be able to receive IDRC funding, the lead organization must have a legal corporate registration in a LMIC country and must be legally eligible to conduct research in the proposed research site.

Q5. Can an international organization with headquarters in a high-income country and regional/country offices in the countries of focus apply to the call?

Yes. International organizations (except United Nations organizations and members of the Consortium of International Agricultural Research [CGIAR]) are eligible to apply to this Call but only as a Co-Applicant Organization. The Lead Applicant Organization must be based in a LMIC.

Q6. Do applicants in a consortium need to be from different countries?

No. It is not required that applicants in a consortium be from different countries.

Q7. What is a Lead Applicant Organization?


The Lead Applicant Organization will assume responsibility for the administration of grant funds and will take the overall lead in coordinating the research activities. The Lead Applicant Organization is responsible for developing and administering sub-grant agreements with their project partners (such as Co-Applicant Organizations, Third Party Organizations, or project consultants).

Lead Applicant Organizations can be private research organizations (e.g., non-governmental organizations, cooperatives, unions, civil society organizations, non-profit foundations, or divisions of for-profit organizations) or public (e.g., governmental departments of line ministries or local governments).

To be eligible to receive IDRC funding, Lead Applicant Organizations must:

  • Be registered as a legal corporation in an eligible LMIC (as defined by the 2020 DAC List of ODA recipients);
  • Have independent legal status (or “legal personality”) and the ability to receive and administer funds;
  • Be eligible to conduct or coordinate independent research in the study countries; and
  • Have a corporate policy to allow researchers to publish freely in the international academic literature.

Q8. What is a Co-Applicant Organization?


Co-Applicant Organizations are direct partners in the research and jointly share with the Lead Applicant Organization the intellectual responsibility and ownership for the knowledge and outputs produced.


Eligible Co-Applicant Organizations:

  • Must be registered as a legal entity in an eligible LMIC (as defined by the 2020 DAC List of ODA recipients).
  • International organizations (other than UN and CGIAR members) are eligible to apply as co-applicant organizations, provided that they have regional chapters or offices with appropriate legal status to operate and manage funds in the eligible countries where the research will take place.

Co-Applicant Organizations can be private (e.g. non-governmental organizations, cooperatives, unions, civil society organizations, non-profit foundations, or divisions of for-profit organizations) or public research organizations (e.g. governmental departments, agencies, or ministries).

At least one of the applicant organizations (lead or co-applicants) must have a key corporate objective to carry out independent research.

Q9. What is a Third-Party Organization?


Third-Party Organizations are sub-contracted by the Lead Applicant Organizations for specific services. These organizations may include United Nations organizations and CGIAR members.


Eligible third-party organizations:

  • Are not required to be located in an eligible country;
  • May include experts in the role of advisors or consultants to the project, but not as principal or co-principal investigators; and
  • May not receive more than 20 percent of the total budget of the proposed project.

Q10. Can Co-Applicant Organizations or Third-Party Organizations receive funding directly from IDRC?

No. IDRC will only negotiate funding agreements with the Lead Applicant Organizations of selected proposals. These Lead Applicant Organizations can then develop and administer sub-grant agreements with Co-Applicants or Third-Party Organizations or consultants.

In exceptional cases, if sub-grant agreements are not possible within the consortium, IDRC may consider administering separate grant agreements with co-applicants.

Q11. Is co-funding required?

No. Co-funding is not required for this Call. Nevertheless, for those applicants that are selected to receive a grant, IDRC’s policy on local contributions will apply as follows:

Any applicant selected to receive IDRC funding will be required to make local contributions to the project. Local contributions represent cash amounts expended by the applicant from its own resources, from private grants, or from grants received from local, provincial, or national authorities for the purpose of the project. In-kind contributions may include salaries of regular staff, equipment, infrastructure, and overhead costs. Cash and/or in-kind contributions should be reflected in the project budget.

Q12. How should the project budget be distributed between the Lead Applicant Organization, the Co-Applicant Organization and Third-Party Organizations?

There are no restrictions on the portion of the total budget allocated to Co-Applicant Organizations. Third-Party Organizations are restricted to a maximum of 20 percent of the total budget. The proposed budget must fit with the stated project activities of each consortium member.

Q13. Can overhead costs be included in the total project budget?

IDRC expects grantees to absorb the overhead or administrative costs of a project as part of its IDRC grantee contribution. Where an organization has a supportable indirect costs recovery policy, IDRC may allow indirect costs of up to 13% of all IDRC grantee-administered costs. The indirect cost rate proposed in the budget should not exceed the grantee’s organizational rate and should be verifiable. 

Where a project includes sub-IDRC grantees who are administering a portion of the project, the maximum contribution may be shared between the proposing institution and the collaborating institution, but it should never exceed 13% of the total budget in aggregate. 

Q14. What specific country procedures, clearances or permissions would be required?

In some cases, IDRC has agreements for scientific and technical cooperation with the governments of the countries where we support projects. Where such agreements exist, IDRC may require additional or alternative approval processes to be followed in order to comply with such agreements. Otherwise, grantees must follow the prevailing approval procedure as required by the government authority. This is often administered by a coordinating or nodal agency of the government and varies by jurisdiction.

If relevant, country procedures only apply to applications that are selected for funding and are not required prior to submitting a concept note or full proposal. IDRC reserves the right to not pursue the funding of a selected project if the country approval is not secured within six months after IDRC officially announces approval of the project, as this would jeopardize the timely completion of the initiative.

Q15. Are these country procedures only applicable to the lead applicant?

No. If needed, country procedures apply to any applicant conducting research in that country. Country approval will apply to the entire project and will not need to be done for each applicant in a consortium.

Q16. Is there a specific format for applying to the Call?

Please read the following instructions for preparing your application (also found on page 10 of the Call document):

Cover page

  • Project title
  • Country or countries where the research is taking place
  • Name and full address of the lead applicant organization
  • Name, title, work affiliation, and email addresses of the study’s Principal Investigator and Co-Principal Investigators
  • Total amount of funding requested and project duration

Concept note content, 10 pages maximum

  • Brief problem statement
  • Overall and specific objectives of the project as they relate to the objective of the Call for Concept Notes (ensure that at least one objective has an explicit gender equality focus)
  • Brief methodology description, including study design, research questions, and methods
  • Clear rationale as how this research will align with:
    • The research themes covered in the Objectives section
    • The key considerations
  • Expected results and anticipated outcomes, including a clear explanation of how the project will achieve impact in improving policies and practices
  • Team composition and expertise (ensuring that your team has demonstrated capacities for gender responsive research)
  • Estimated budget (total amount with brief notes and justification)

Concept notes should outline the nature of the consortium and how partner organizations will work together. Shortlisted applicants that are invited to submit full proposals will be required to outline in their submission a knowledge management strategy that fosters active engagement among all collaborating partners as well as a knowledge translation strategy for disseminating research findings with broader national and international stakeholder groups.

Full applications to this Call must be submitted online through the Survey Monkey Application platform by 5 April 2021.

Applications must consist of a concept note that may be written in English or French. The maximum length of the concept note is 10 pages if written in English or 12 pages if written in French. Concept notes should be written in 11-point Arial font, single spaced, and with normal 2.54 cm margins. Concept notes should be organized according to the headings described above.