LCF Round Two Pre-Announcement Communication

The Local Challenge Fund (LCF) is a key element of the Higher Education Development in Pakistan Project supported by the World Bank and implemented by the Higher Education Commission (HEC).  The LCF is designed to support higher education institutions implement research projects that address locally relevant socio-economic issues and are focused on local community – society, governmental, and/or industry -needs.  Successful proposals will describe a research project designed in conjunction with the appropriate local stakeholders.  The dissemination plan must ensure that research outcomes are shared both in appropriate peer-reviewed journals and with the local community involved in the project design.  Proposals should include research activities and postgraduate education, and emphasize the broader societal impacts – with a particular focus on local community concerns - that may be anticipated from the project.

While the 1st Round of the LCF was launched in 2020, and proposals are currently being evaluated, HEC is issuing this Pre-Announcement Communication to alert the academic research community in Pakistan to the forthcoming 2nd Round of the LCF with a Call for Proposals anticipated to be launched in late Spring 2021. The expectation is that this advance notice will provide the research community in Pakistan additional time to better define the appropriate research questions, to identify the appropriate academic collaborators, and to build the partnerships with local stakeholders.

Structure of the Competition for the 2nd Round of LCF

LCF projects will be awarded to selected institutions based upon a competitive, independent, merit-based, peer-reviewed evaluation of proposals.  To best support the academic research community in Pakistan, and to ensure that the portfolio of awards best addresses the breadth of local challenges that exist across the country, HEC anticipates that the 2nd Round of LCF will include two separate elements

1.       In Element One, successful projects will balance (1) a research focus on addressing a Local Challenge with (2) building the research capacity and contributing to the research mission of the host institution.  The Principal Investigator for Element One proposals must be a university faculty member (PhD or FCPS/MCPS/FRCS) based at a Pakistan HEI that is not included in the list of research-intensive institutions as specified for the GCF-2020 call.

2.       In Element Two, successful projects will focus primarily on addressing a Local Challenge.  The Principal Investigator for Element Two proposals must be a university faculty member (PhD or FCPS/MCPS/FRCS) based at a Pakistan HEI that is included in the list of research-intensive institutions as specified for the GCF-2020 call.

HEC may consider proposals that were submitted to the 2020 Grand Challenge Fund competition for accelerated consideration under FPP stage of the 1st Round of LCF-2020.  Those GCF Proposals that advanced to the High-Level Expert Panel interview stage, may be invited to revise their proposals along with the budget to fit within the LCF 2020 framework and submit Full Project Proposals via HEC online portal.

Anticipated Funding Amount

It is expected that budgets for LCF awards will not exceed Rs. 65 Million (USD 400 000), with a maximum project duration of 2 years.  In exceptional cases, budgets may go up to Rs 113 Million (USD 700,000). Budget requests should be consistent with the proposed research and education activities. Principal Investigators are encouraged to seek co- and complementary financing from other sources, including local governments and industry who will benefit from the research activities. 

Project Teams

All LCF projects should be collaborative in scope, with teams composed of academic researchers with the appropriate expertise to address the research challenge, as well as local stakeholders who contribute to the project design and potential implementation of results.   Principal Investigators should be faculty members at higher education institutions in Pakistan, but should also build a research team capable of completing the proposed research agenda over the project lifetime.  This research team can include faculty members from the PI's home institution, any other academic institutions in Pakistan, and/or international academic institutions.  In addition, local stakeholders – from civil society, government and/or private enterprise (including, but not limited to, local, national, regional or multinational Enterprises; Ministries, local public departments and other public authorities; chambers of commerce; trade groups and professional associations; community groups; hospitals; policymakers) are anticipated be part of the project team with roles that are clearly articulated in the proposal. 

To take full advantage of the national research capacity, PIs are encouraged to build teams including junior and senior academic staff, as well as both male and female researchers.

Support in Proposal Preparation:

Following the launch of the Call for Proposals, HEC will organize a series of workshops and webinars across Pakistan to provide a forum to identify and discuss specific local challenges.  Recordings of these sessions will be available on the HEC website, along with a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) regarding the LCF program.

All researchers interested in submitting a proposal for the LCF must first submit a Project Outline to the Higher Education Commission.  Those Project Outlines that pass an initial screening will be invited to submit a Full Proposal to the Higher Education Commission.  The Call for Proposals will include Templates to be used to prepare the Project Outline and the Full Proposal.

Full details of the Local Challenge Fund, including the Call for Proposals and Proposal Templates (when released) will be available on the Higher Education Commission website available at:

Questions regarding the Local Challenge Fund may be directed to: Info-r&

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