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Newton Prize guidance notes


The guidance notes set out the scope and criteria for applications to the 2020 Newton Prize. The Newton partner countries for 2020 are Egypt, Kenya, Jordan, South Africa and Turkey.  Please also refer to the terms and conditions for the Newton Prize 2020.

By submitting your application form for consideration for the prize, applicants will be deemed to have accepted and agreed to be bound by the terms and conditions. Applicants will be required to enter into a formal funding agreement with BEIS prior to award of the monies if they are successful, and this will be based on the terms and conditions.

UK Commission for UNESCO

The UK National Commission for UNESCO (UKNC) in London has been appointed by the UK Government Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) as the contractor to administer the Newton prize application process.

The Newton Prize team based at the UKNC can be contacted for further guidance and information for applicants interested in applying for the prize:

Sarah Shaw, Newton Prize Project Director

Please also refer to the frequently asked questions (FAQs) for further information.

Academics, practitioners and other professionals interested in joining the Newton Prize Reviewer Panel to assess the applications should complete the reviewer registration form.


Newton Prize overview

The Newton Prize recognises excellent science, research and innovation in support of economic development and social welfare in Newton Fund partner countries.  

This annual £1 million prize fund celebrates the best partnerships between the UK and Newton countries, encouraging international collaboration to address global challenges. The Newton Partner countries in 2020 are Egypt, Kenya, Jordan, Turkey and South Africa.

For more information on the Newton Prize and for background details on the Newton Fund please follow the respective links.


Newton Prize objectives

The concept for the Newton Prize has been developed to raise the profile of the Newton Fund, to recognise the excellent research and innovation supported by the Fund, to demonstrate how UK partnerships with Newton countries are solving global challenges, and to celebrate the impacts made as a result of these international collaborations.

The Newton Fund draws upon Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding to contribute to realising the ambitions of the UK aid strategy, thereby making progress on the global effort to address the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDGs embody a global commitment to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path to development, stimulating action over the coming years in areas of critical importance for humanity and the planet while eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions. The Newton Prize has clear links with the UN SDGs through its emphasis on providing collaborative solutions to development issues faced by partner countries. The emphasis on inter-disciplinarily and partnership building with developing countries that underpins the Newton Fund, signals an ambition and an intention to achieve a positive transformational impact on development research and on sustainable global development. A standard definition of sustainability is: ‘The next generation can have access to the same opportunities for well-being as this one including physical, human, natural, social and other capital.’

The Prize will be an open competitive process. A central component of successful applications will be those which clearly explain their contribution to solving development challenges. Prizes will be awarded for eligible projects, fellowships and other types of awards that demonstrate an effect on, change to or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment, or quality of life, beyond academia and business. This includes when new technologies or knowledge increase economic growth and productivity. An example would be demonstrating contributions in areas such as health and wellbeing where significant challenges exist including Zika, antimicrobial resistance, pandemic diseases, non-communicable diseases and public health.

Development challenges for the Newton Fund and the Newton Prize are those issues of particular concern to developing countries that may be addressed and improved through research and innovation. These need not be exclusively relevant to developing countries but must have a disproportionate impact upon them. As an example, zika and malaria are global development challenges as they are prevalent in the developing world and have a disproportionate impact on affected developing countries. However, there are parts of the developed world where zika or malaria are also public health issues. This proportionality of impact is the key to identifying what is a development challenge.

The 17 UN SDG’s and associated targets encapsulate those areas that have been identified as of particular relevance to developing countries. We recommend that applicants be familiar with these in framing their responses.

Please note that making a case for how a project has furthered research, innovation and perhaps individual commercial/business objectives will not be sufficient. You must demonstrate the broader (actual and potential) benefits to society and to improving people’s lives, which may include benefits to broader economic growth and productivity.

The Prizes

In 2020, one Newton Prize will be awarded to each of the 2020 Newton Prize eligible partner countries. There is no competition between the eligible countries for these prizes. 

Award amounts:

Payments to Prize winners will be made quarterly in arrears.

Please note that if successful at Part A of the application process, you will be invited to choose which prize you are submitting a proposal for at Part B of the application process. 

The financial administration of the Newton Prize will be managed by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in collaboration with the UK Newton Fund Delivery Partners.


Eligibility guidelines

For applicants who currently hold a Newton Fund award: All current award holders in the current year’s prize countries are eligible to apply provided the award has started and is sufficiently progressed to provide strong evidence that demonstrates the outcome and impact of the project before the Part A application closing date of Tuesday 21 April. Feedback from reviewers from previous years is that some projects, based on the evidence provided, are at too early a stage to demonstrate impact, so please consider this when considering whether to apply for the Newton Prize. Applicants who hold an award which has already concluded are equally eligible to apply.

Location: Applicants must identify the eligible partner country, relevant to the year they apply in, and where the majority of their proposed project work will be conducted.

Lead Principal Investigators: The lead prize applicant must be the named lead recipient of the funding on the original award i.e. the Principal Investigator (PI) or Fellow or similar and can be the UK or in-country PI or both (if applicable). If the lead PI on a project has changed, or moved on to a different institution, applicants will need to state who the new PI is and include these details on the application form. They must also attach a letter showing that the original PI is aware of the application and confirms the name of the new PI.

For single member applicants (for example fellowship award holders or researcher links award holders): The same conditions apply. Applicants must be the actual award holder. The host institution/host supervisor needs to be identified if applicable.

For collaborative awards (between institutions or academic/industry partnerships): All partners must be clearly outlined including governance structures - this includes project roles, relationship to project, in-country partners, the split of any funding, and matched funding (if applicable). Please note that in the case of collaborative projects, only one application can be made per team. Multiple applications from the different partners involved will not be considered. Agreement to make the application must be obtained from all relevant partners by the lead applicant and proof provided in an uploaded letter. Please note that if your application is successful, and the project will be carried out in partnership/collaboration with other organisations (and the lead applicant intends to pass on some, or all of, the prize fund), the lead applicant must ensure that any such partner organisations enter into formal, legally binding arrangements with it on terms which are no less onerous than the Newton Prize Terms and Conditions.

Regional projects/cross-Newton Partner applications: Applications linking the UK and one or more 2020 Newton Prize countries, or which connect the UK, a 2020 Newton Prize country and one or more other DAC List countries are eligible, but one 2020 Newton Prize country must be selected on the application form.


Financial plans and justification of costs

Eligible spend

Newton Prize funding must be used for activities that will advance the future research and innovation work of the research project, partnership, fellowship or other type of award. As the Newton Prize is funded by the Newton Fund, it must be spent on research and innovation activities that will address development challenges and therefore be ODA eligible.

This can include:

Provided that applicants make the case that the prize funding they receive will meet the objectives of the Newton Prize covered above, there are currently no additional criteria placed on eligible costs. Applicants should provide clear details about what exactly they intend to spend the prize on, and this will be taken into account when reviewing their applications.

Please note that Newton Prize funding cannot be used for:

None of the funds or assets provided under the prize can be made available or used to provide support to individuals, groups or entities associated with terrorism including those named on the following lists as updated from time to time:

Value for money will be a key consideration for the award ensuring all costs are kept to a minimum where possible.

Recipients of the award will need to spend the whole prize by March 2022, with projects starting in April 2021. Applications need to provide the detailed plan for how teams would use the prize money; this includes a breakdown and justification of costs for each partner involved, and a schedule to outline how the additional funds will contribute to further current work packages.

Please download and complete the Newton Prize proposal budget template and upload it with the application form.

Please explain clearly what additional funds you would need to reach your research and innovation targets and the reasons for this. Please clearly demonstrate how this work would be additional to the work already being carried out under your Newton award.

Applicants will need to show that their proposal adheres to the central partnership theme of the Newton Fund, and clearly demonstrate that at least 50% of the prize money will be spent within the Newton Partner Country (and therefore 50% or less spent in the UK).

It is important that applicants clearly demonstrate that the money bid for is realistically spendable within the 2021/2022 financial year; April 2021-March 2022. Please note that stated plans may be subject to further discussion and negotiation with BEIS prior to the start of any activities.

State Aid and Match Funding Exceptions

The Newton Prize does not require match funding from any source. However if a UK business is funded through the prize, there will be a need to ensure that they adhere to State Aid exemption legislation where some match funding may be required in order to meet exemption rules. This will depend on the specifics of the applicant and bid. If this is the case with your application, please contact the Newton Prize team who can direct applicants to a specialist advisor in BEIS on request (

Financial and Project Reporting

The winners will need to regularly report on their use of the prize money. The Newton Fund and its partners will make contact with the winners to establish a monitoring and evaluation scheme for the duration of the prize funded activity.


Proof of Organisation and Partner Support

The application portal requires that the following validation documents be uploaded as part of your application.

For all applicants it is a requirement that you obtain letters of support from the department in your organisation that administers your Newton Award, or if your existing award is complete, will be hosting the new activity if you are invited to submit a Part B proposal. These letters will need to show the following:

For collaborative projects, it is a requirement that you also supply evidence in a letter or other document that the main partners involved have agreed to your making the application and agreed your plans for spending the money. Any winning collaborative project may also be required to provide more detail on their partnership governance arrangements by BEIS in the autumn.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some countries have shut down schools & universities. If this makes it difficult for PIs to submit the required Part A letter of support from institutions, we will accept a copy of any historical communication from the institution related to the Newton Funded project - this might be an initial letter of engagement or acceptance, a statement of account or something else which clearly shows there is a relationship between the PI and the institution that relates to the work.


Application Process

Application Timeline



Call for submissions - Part A application only

10 March 2020


Deadline for Part A applications


21 April 2020

Applicants successful at Part A invited to submit Part B proposals


2 June 2020

Deadline for Part B applications


7 July 2020

Shortlist announced


17 August 2020

Newton Prize Committee Meeting

23 September 2020

In Country Awards Events


November 2020

London Awards Event

7 December 2020


Completing the application form

This will be an open and competitive process, there will be at least one winner per country.

Application assessment process

The Application assessment process will involve two stages.

At both stages, applications may be referred to the relevant UK Delivery Partners and Newton Fund In-Country Teams for validation.

The reviewers will judge the case made for:

The selection criteria has further details about the project selection criteria and the marking weightings that will use by reviewers to assess applications. Applicants should refer to this in completing their applications.

Reviewers' feedback – applicants can request anonymous reviewer feedback on their application only from the Newton Prize Team.

Shortlisted Applications

All shortlisted applicants will be contacted after decisions are made about communications activity by the prize team, including regarding preparation of case studies which will be featured on the Newton Fund website.

Shortlisted applications will be referred to the independent Newton Prize Committee. The Newton Prize Committee will be comprised of members from different disciplines and international development expertise. The Committee will review all shortlisted applications, along with feedback from the expert peer reviewers, and select the winners at the Newton Prize Committee meeting using their combined cross-disciplinary expertise. Video call interviews with shortlisted applicants may form part of this process.

All applicants are deemed to accept that decisions of the Newton Prize Committee are final in connection with the prize, and the Committee shall have absolute discretion as to whether an application from the shortlist is to be selected to win a prize.

No correspondence or feedback will be entered into with applicants relating to the opinions or decisions of the Newton Prize Committee in relation to the prize.

Announcement of Results

If you are not successful at Part A of the application process you will not be invited to complete a Part B proposal and you will be informed in June. All applicants who have completed a Part B proposal will be contacted in August and told whether they have been shortlisted. The winning projects will be publicly announced at Newton Prize events in-country during November and will be celebrated at the London Prize Event on the 7 December 2020.

Changes to Projects

Applicants should inform the UK National Commission for UNESCO and BEIS as soon as possible of any changes that materially impact the accuracy of the information contained in the submitted application or the delivery of the project.