Fund Details
The Harvard University Motsepe Presidential Research Accelerator Fund for Africa
Academic Year
Award Duration
One or two years
Maximum Award Amount
Sponsor Deadline


The Motsepe Presidential Research Accelerator Fund for Africa is made possible by a generous gift from the Motsepe Foundation. The Office of the Vice Provost for Research will administer the Fund together with the Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs, in collaboration with the Center for African Studies.

The primary purpose of the Fund is to support faculty-led and student-driven research projects that focus on advancing key challenges and opportunities facing Africa - whether it be emerging technologies and the Fourth Industrial Revolution; climate change and its effect on health, agriculture, water, and/or sanitation; renewable energy and its benefit to infrastructure and/or society; health; aging; materials science; and the governance and policies needed for an entrepreneurial economy. Activities the Fund may support include but are not limited to research; associated travel costs; and the publication and dissemination of findings. 

Special consideration will also be given to projects that propose multidisciplinary collaboration between Harvard faculty across more than one school and Africa-based academics.

Application Information:

A total of $350,000 is available in funding for the current cycle, and it is anticipated that 4 - 7 grants will be awarded. Applicants may request a project period of one or two years with a maximum of $100,000 direct costs, as specified by the applicant in his or her proposal. Grants are non-renewable, but there are no limits on the number of times an individual may apply for funding. Grants are eligible for a one-time one-year no-cost extension, provided the project is continuing, remains in good standing, and has made material progress.

Application Requirements and Instructions
You will be asked to submit the following information and documentation:
  • Contact Information for principal investigator and any co-investigators or collaborators.
  • Proposal of up to 1,000 words that succinctly describes the proposed research project, its significance and expected impact, and any proposed collaboration with Africa-based academics or researchers. An additional field will be provided for inclusion of no more than 2 additional pages of supplemental information (citations, images, etc.). *Note that the faculty review committee is comprised of members in various disciplines, which may or may not include that of the applicant. Therefore, applicants are strongly encouraged to submit proposals demonstrating impact in a manner comprehensible to a highly-educated lay audience.
  • CV or biosketch of no more than 3 pages for each PI, co-investigator, and collaborator. If funding is requested for postdoctoral scholar(s) or graduate student(s), please also include a CV or biosketch for each such individual.
  • Project budget must be provided using the form available in the application. Applicants must also use the budget justification form provided to explain each budget item.

Unallowable expenses
Student tuition
Renovation and capital project costs

Other budget considerations
  • If the total cost of the proposed project is larger than the award requested from the Fund, please provide brief details of other support in the budget.
  • Applicants should note that any benefits-eligible personnel expenses in the budget must include the appropriate fringe rates for each year of funding. If the application proposes to fund a certain amount of an existing employee’s time, then the budget must also include that percentage of applied fringe.
  • Applicants should consult with Human Resources at their home school for applicable rates.
  • Include direct costs only. School assessments should not be included in your budget (these will be arranged separately with home schools).
  • It is strongly recommended that, for proposals including work performed in Africa, applicants seek budget advice from knowledgeable representatives at their local school or from Harvard Global Support Services.
  • All applications must adhere to university and school-level guidance on travel. All University-related travel, both international and domestic, is prohibited until further notice and should not be planned or scheduled at this time.

Other Support
Applicants must use the form provided in the application to summarize active and pending support for the Principal Investigator. Other Support includes all financial resources, whether Federal, non-Federal, commercial or institutional, available in direct support of an individual’s research endeavors, including but not limited to research grants, cooperative agreements, contracts and/or institutional awards. Please include any Harvard internal grants or major, project-specific support. Please do not include any "start-up" packages and/or tenure-transfer funding.

Assurance of Compliance
All recipients of an award from the Motsepe Presidential Research Accelerator Fund for Africa are expected to comply with all University, (or local institutional, if awarded through an affiliated entity), policies governing the conduct of research including, but not limited to, the use of animals, human subjects, hazardous materials, and export controls. Awardees will be asked to provide the name and signature of a school or department administrator who, in addition to the principal investigator, will certify that the project complies with all relevant policies. Funds will not be made available, and invoices from non-Harvard entities will not be reimbursed, without such certification. All applicants are subject to audit.

Eligibility Criteria:

Applications are invited from individuals who hold a faculty appointment at a Harvard school and who have principal investigator rights at that school. Harvard Medical School faculty must hold a faculty appointment with PI rights in one of HMS’s basic or social science departments. Faculty may request support for Harvard postdocs, graduate students, and undergraduates.

Individuals who are Principal Investigators on an active Motsepe Presidential Research Accelerator Fund for Africa award will not be funded. Previous awardees are invited to apply for a new project provided their prior award cycle has concluded.

Review Criteria:

Proposals will be evaluated on the basis of academic merit, feasibility, and their anticipated advancement of the objectives of the Fund and must meet at least one of the following three criteria:
  • Include collaboration with Africa-based academics
  • Be undertaken in Africa in whole or in part
  • Focus on Africa

Additional Information, Related Websites, and Proxy Instructions:

Review and Funding Timeline
October 1, 2020:  Application portal opens
November 30, 2020:  Application deadline/postal closes
February 2020:  Awardees notified

March 2020:  Funds disbursed (Fund disbursal will occur upon receipt of signed terms and conditions, and provision of any required documentation. Delayed receipt of documentation may delay the disbursal of funds.)

Contact Information:

For questions about this application, please contact Li-Ming Tseng at

Search Filters:

  • Harvard Business School
  • Harvard Divinity School
  • Faculty of Arts and Sciences
  • Graduate School of Design
  • Graduate School of Education
  • Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
  • Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health
  • Harvard Kennedy School
  • Harvard Law School
  • Harvard Medical School (Quad)
  • Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM)
    • Instructor
    • Assistant Professor
    • Associate Professor
    • Professor
    • Other Academic/Research Appointment
      Type of Competition
      • Harvard Internal Funding
        • Arts
        • Basic Science
        • Clinical Science
        • Environmental Science
        • Engineering
        • Humanities
        • Life Science
        • Population Science
        • Multidisciplinary
        • Physical Science
        • Social/Behavioral Science
        • Translational Science
        • Other
          Begin Accepting Applications Date:
          Deadline Date (EST Time Zone):
          11/30/2020 11:59 PM