Second call for project proposals – Research grants 2024 for exploratory projects

VREF invites applications for research grants to support projects that will be implemented 2024 within the VREF program “Walking as a Mode of Transport”. This Call is the second one in the program and deadline for submission of applications was 15 September 2023. The outcomes of this Call will be announced later this year.

In 2021 VREF launched the “Walking program”, a new initiative for funding research and education on walking as a mode of transport. The objective of the program is to strengthen international research and research capacity on walking as a mode of transport in ways that can contribute to more equitable access and sustainable mobility in urban transport. The program also seeks to build a broad, international and interdisciplinary community of learning which encompasses both researchers and other stakeholders in this area, as well as to support and contribute to new knowledge among “next generation” scholars in walking research. Finally, an additional aim of the program is to strengthen research capacity on walking as a mode of transport in the Global South.

An important point of departure for VREF’s initiative are the indications that despite its ubiquitous presence in everyday life (particularly in the Global South), walking as a mode of transport has not received extensive research or policy attention to date. In addition, while walking has been a research topic in certain academic contexts for many years, work on walking as a mode of transport has not yet developed into a cogent research direction, area or subject in itself.

Exploratory Research Projects

The current Call is the second call for proposals for exploratory research projects within the Walking program. The call focuses on small comparative research projects within the four core themes of the Walking program which are indicated above. Projects will be carried out during a twelve-month period starting early 2024.

The Call is directed at exploratory, comparative research on issues that are relevant to the themes. The work can entail the exchange of e.g. empirical work (such as case studies), methodologies, analytical tools, data collection, policy experiences or research results from work on walking as a mode of transport in specific urban contexts. This type of comparative research can encompass both the exchange of in-depth knowledge that has already been accumulated over time but has not previously been placed in a comparative perspective, as well as new, exploratory work on emergent issues or approaches within the respective thematic areas. VREF particularly welcomes projects that encompass comparative work, approaches and perspectives from different urban contexts and regions, such as comparative analysis of relevant dimensions of walking in specific areas in the Global North and the Global South.

VREF foresees that successful research proposals will approach these issues through cross- disciplinary approaches that link perspectives and approaches from multiple disciplines or areas within e.g. engineering, social sciences, behavioral sciences, and the humanities. VREF also welcomes projects that engage university scholars who have not previously carried out transportrelated research or who have not previously been part of VREF’s research network. Project teams are also urged to engage relevant international expertise to complement the core competence of the applicant team(s).


This is where we publish and answer questions regarding the Call.
If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to contact us via

Q: In the Appendices section, I have a question, in 10 references for core researchers, the idea is to add related research papers published by the researchers?
A: No, it is 10 max for the whole application preferably from the main or co-researchers.

Q: Also, is this number of maximum references per each researcher, or total?
A: It is max  3-page CV per person but, please, only the main researcher and core researcher(s). We do not need the all staff’ CVs.

Q: Is the deadline 15th of September likely to get extended?
A: No. The deadline will be as announced. 

Q: In order to meet the requirements outlined in the application guidelines, we need to include short CVs for the core researchers involved in the project. We kindly request clarification regarding the format for these short CVs. Specifically, should we prepare a collective document containing short CVs for all core researchers, with a maximum length of three pages? Alternatively, should each core researcher create an individual three-page short CV to be included in the appendices?
A: Each core researcher will add an individual three-page short CV to the appendices. Please, note that only the main co-researchers will do so. No need then to include the totality of the researchers’ CV in your application. In the case we need more information, we will take contact.

Q: VREF fund universities and research institutes, would you consider an application from a non-profit research institute?
A: If this institute is recognized as a Public Institute with Academic standards, yes – but if it is a private owned enterprise, no.

Q: We are working in collaboration with a university without capacity to manage a research grant. If the grant were successful would you permit another part in the research team to administer the grant?
A: No, no “between hands” admitted. The university must have the capacity with the VREF help to manage a one year project by itself. But if the project owner from the university have your organization in the research team and get help from your organization to manage the grant, this would be OK. The grant would still be transferred to the university.

Q: Can we budget for all our core researchers attend the VREF workshop? (for which the proposal asks us to account 1700 Euros), or it should be the lead researcher only?
A: Generally speaking, we never invite a whole team to a Workshop. Only the lead researcher + co-researcher at maximum. There is no need then to budget for the whole team.

Q: As a part of our comparative research, we are considering a 7-10 days cross field study across two cities for the core researchers from each city. This a substantial part of budget. We would like to know if that something that is acceptable to the proposal format?
A: Yes, this is acceptable if the research requires it.

Q: Our lead institution encompasses a Institutional overhead of 20-25%. Is that acceptable?
A: The overhead, whatever the amount is, shall be included in the budget. No extra payment of the grant shall be done.

Q: The guideline mentions that the CV needs to have 10 references. There is a confusion regarding this. Is the expectation that the references are to publications or to individuals who can refer you. Secondly does it mean 10 references collectively or individually.
A: As a CV is individual, it refers to the main persons from the research teams: one CV shall include 10 references to publications (preferably the 10 latest).

Q: ”We are a think-act tank that focuses on urban and regional issues and promotes the co-production of knowledge. Our advocacy concerns housing rights, informal settlement, mobility, urban planning, water, and coastal issues. We are interested in applying the “Walking as the mode of Transport” project. However, we would like to confirm or ask further regarding the proposal requirement. It is said that “the project leader must be based in a university or a research institute of academic standing (conducting research of high scientific quality)”. We have published some policy papers and books that have been part of training we organize for civil servants. Some of our staff also have published articles either in national newspapers or journal articles. Would that count as academic standing according to the requirements?

A: VREF support universities and similar institutes. No application issued by an NGO, or a private enterprise, will be accepted. Only applications issued from Universities or Research Institute of academic standing are qualified. On the other hand, if a researcher affiliated to a university wish to apply having NGO staff member in the research team, it can be accepted. Please note anyway that no grant will be transferred to an NGO directly.

Q: Do we need an FCRA certificate to to be eligible for funding from VREF for this grant?

A: The team leader (=Applicant) has to be affiliated to a university or equivalent institute. Applications from NGO are not receivable, therefore a FCRA certificate is for us not relevant although it can be preferable for the applicant and the university who might have you as member of the research team.

Q: Do we become eligible to receive a grant if our team leader is based in an university or a research institute of academic standing, but if we do not have an FCRA certificate as an organisation?

A: The NGO will never receive part or totality of the grant from our Foundations. The grant will be transferred to the applicant’s university/institute who will care for the management.

Q: Definition of “region” – for example, are Latin America and North America one or two regions? Would Brazil and a Spanish-speaking LA country be considered the same region?

A: For the purposes of the Call, Latin America and North America are viewed as two different, distinct regions. However, any two countries from Latin America (e.g. Brazil and a Spanish-speaking LA country) are considered to belong to the Latin American region.

Q: The project should be finalised in 12 months. But if an important conference takes place for example 6 months later after the project was completed, is it possible to use the budget for that conference?

A: Yes, that is possible, however you need to have a strong motivation in the application for including the conference in the project plan. We usually consider presenting project results at conferences as an activity not included in the implementation of the project as such.

Q: Can the comparison between North and South e.g Kenya and France?

A: Yes. Applications may include comparative work from urban areas in the Global North and the Global South. As noted in the Call, VREF particularly welcomes projects that encompass comparative work from different urban contextsand regions, such as comparative analysis from specific areas in the Global North and the Global South.

Q: I had a question on the study visits are they related to the walking call for proposals?

A: No. Support to study visits are awarded separately and span over all of VREF’s programs and other activities. Study visits are not linked to the Call for proposals on research projects in the Walking program.

Q: Regarding the eligibility criteria It Is recommended to have a partnership with at least 2 universities. Which Is the minimum Number?

A: While is not a requirement to have at least two partners besides the lead partner, the proposed project must include comparative work from urban areas in at least two countries. However, as noted in the Call, the Walking program particularly welcomes project proposals that include project teams which consist of researchers from at leasttwo different universities.