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Connect2Recover Research Competition - Intake Closed

ITU's Connect2Recover initiative aims to build back better with broadband by reinforcing digital infrastructure and digital ecosystems of countries so that they can better leverage information and communications technologies (ICTs) to support COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts and preparedness for a post-COVID normal and remain resilient in times of disasters.

This is the first time that the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the specialised agency of the United Nations for information and communication technologies, is organising an international competition under Connect2Recover. This offers an unprecendented opportunity to contribute towards digital inclusion during the pandemic.

Connect2Recover Research Competition - Intake closed

Through the Connect2Recover initiative, ITU is launching the "Connect2Recover Research Competition" to identify promising research proposals that will accelerate digital inclusion during the COVID-19 recovery globally. ITU is pleased to recognize the support of ITU-D Sector Member Huawei for their support of this competition.


The competition aims to:

  • Improve research focus on digital resiliency and digital inclusion to build back better with broadband for pandemic recovery;
  • Build a global research community of think tanks and academic institutions around digital inclusion; and
  • Promote knowledge sharing that informs targeted practices to build back better with broadband.

Intake Closed - Click here for the list of winners


This competition is open to Academia, including early career researchers and think tanks. Individual experts who are affiliated with academic institutions may also apply. Submissions must clearly elaborate and demonstrate at least one of the following:

  • How to carry out studies that can assess the resiliency for digital infrastructure taking into account relevant data sources and formulate forward-looking, actionable policy measures leading to positive outcomes in education, healthcare, or job creation by fostering digital inclusion as the country enters the COVID-19 recovery period?
  • How to build back better with broadband along with digital inclusion during the COVID-19 recovery efforts resulting in meaningful connectivity?
  • Develop key recommendations on aspects of resilient digital infrastructure supporting education, health, or job creation in the targeted context.

Evaluation criteria

A jury appointed by ITU will review proposals received based on the following criteria in addition to the competition scope to select the winning submissions:

  • Collaboration: Participants are encouraged to apply in teams featuring institutions from both developed and developing countries. Effort will be made to balance the winners between regions.
  • Relevance: The research must provide essential insights to foster digital inclusion. Research pertaining to the broad area of connecting the unconnected will receive a special focus. The submission should also offer recommendations on how good practices and (the proposed) additional research could improve the current situation and enable stakeholders to achieve their desired future state.
  • Impact: The proposal should demonstrate a new, innovative recommendation and outline its potential and impact on vulnerable (currently digitally excluded) groups.
  • Viability: The recommendations should demonstrate the research adaptability and replicability.
  • Sustainability: The submission should be financially sustainable and consistent to the COVID-19 crisis for short- and mid-term impact while engaging with local partners.
  • Novelty: The proposal should be original research and should be related to new knowledge discovery in the field of digital inclusion.
  • Implementation Plan: Submit concrete, actionable recommendations along with an implementation plan for a Pilot Project in a beneficiary country.

The Prizes

Fifteen (15) research grants worth USD 42,000 each will be awarded to winning research teams. Winners will receive initial support from ITU to engage with governments and regulators to gather information and data for their research. The Connect2Recover Initiative will enable this knowledge exchange through joint (online) events with the selected research teams and policymakers. Winning teams will benefit from great visibility during these events and will have opportunities to present and discuss their research directly with decision makers.


  • Participants must register and complete the submission form by clicking the 'Apply Online' button below (Opens in a new window).
  • Submissions of original work are invited and submissions must be in English.
  • Please note that each team is only allowed one submission.
  • No individual team member can participate in two teams. This will result in exclusion of both teams.
  • To prepare the application, please download the information about the format and content required in the application form here: It is recommended to prepare the content accordingly and then copy and paste it into the online application form.


  • By entering the Connect2Recover Research Competition, you hereby warrant that all information submitted by you is true, current, complete and accurate, and that the research proposal is an original work. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) reserves the right to verify the eligibility of all applicants.
  • By entering the Connect2Recover Research Competition, you agree to comply with the rules of the competition (Terms and References, Eligibility and Evaluation Criteria).
  • By entering the Connect2Recover Research Competition, you agree that the results of the subsequent research projects shall be presented at future ITU events and packaged as research briefs (max. 10,000 words) in a ITU publication series, Build Back Better with Broadband: Research stories from the frontline.
  • By entering the Connect2Recover Research Competition, you agree that the publication shall feature ITU logo while due acknowledgements would be accorded to the contributions made by successful winners as per ITU rules and procedures.
  • By entering the Connect2Recover Research Competition, you agree that the ITU will reserve the right for publication of the research and will have the necessary copyright to publish the research in the publication series mentioned in the above. Otherwise, the copyright of the research output will remain with the winning teams and they are encouraged to publish their research outcomes through their means or in academic as well as industry outlets giving due notice to the funding received from ITU.
For the information pack on Connect2Recover Research Competition, click below:
Download the Connect2Recover Research Competition information pack