Welcome to GROW

Graduate Research on Worldwide Challenges

We are a network of internationally collaborating universities from the Netherlands with longstanding collaborations with our partners at the African continent.

We will launch an international PhD programme that offers tomorrow’s leaders a unique opportunity to do high quality and novel research, related to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals on the African continent.

Supervision for the PhD students will be provided by globally renowned professors, supported by societal actors and academics from our African partners. With the projects we aim to make a real contribution to understanding and addressing the urgent worldwide challenges.


International and

Intersectoral research

Research and innovation that is interdisciplinary, international and intersectoral (Triple-I) stands a better chance of understanding wicked challenges and producing creative and effective solutions. Thus, they can play a vital role in meeting the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Currently the African continent has few R&D staff compared to other regions. With GROW we invest in training scholars with an understanding of the continent, while strengthening existing Africa – Netherlands partnerships. Because academic and non-academic stakeholders are involved from the start – collective learning and co-creation makes for deeper understanding of the challenges, opportunites and their trade-offs, more detailed specs, earlier prototype testing, more opportunities for validation and transforming academic research results into real-world solutions. As the science is complex and original, it can also be captured in high quality scientific papers.


For GROW, six high ranking Dutch universities have joined up with 22 African academic and 17 non-academic partners to raise funds for 51 four year PhD positions with candidates from anywhere in the world to pursue scientifically challenging research that in some way links Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs) in Africa with Europe. Funding from Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions COFUND programme of the European Union has been granted. The possibilities are manifold, as fellowships are available in the Natural Sciences, Social Sciences & Humanities, and Engineering. The Triple-I design of the GROW programme offers the PhD students the chance to equip themselves with an advanced, future-proof set of scientific and complementary skills that they will take with them as they pursue high-flying careers in a world that is becoming ever more complex and interconnected.

The Dutch University (Hosting) Partners

Science plays a vital role in understanding and addressing urgent worldwide challenges. To this end, the six leading Dutch universities in the GROW consortium collaborated since 2016 on research for global development, closely connected to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and have included African counterparts and many non-academic stakeholders in their efforts. Supervision for the 51 PhD students will available from 100 supervisors within 40 research departments, all with experience in Africa-related research, at 5 outstanding host institutions in the Netherlands: Delft University of Technology (coordinator), University of Amsterdam, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Leiden University, Erasmus University Rotterdam and Wageningen University & Research.