British, PH gov’ts award over P620-M science grants

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The British government together with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) are providing over £10-million (approximately P620-million) for grants and collaborative projects in the third year of the Newton Agham Programme.

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The science grants aim to help solve core challenges in long term social and economic development in the Philippines including energy security, disaster response, healthcare, environmental resilience and food security.

British Ambassador Asif Ahmad said, “While capitalising on the Philippines and the UK’s strengths in research and innovation, jointly supporting these projects shall create significant impact on improving living standards and promoting economic growth. Solutions to development challenges are created alongside the advancement of UK and Philippine science and innovation expertise, which are key drivers to economic development.”

Awardees were recognised in a reception held at the British Ambassador’s Residence on February 7. The UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Philrice are co-funding research projects on the sustainable production of rice; two projects are working on improving the nutritional quality of rice and the other two focus on creating greater resilience of the rice plant to diseases and environmental stresses due to climate change.

The awards also include eight PhD scholarships and 10 Institutional Links grants co-funded by the British Council and CHED.

Chairperson Patricia Licuanan said, “We are pleased to jointly award, in partnership with the British Council-Newton Fund, grants to our top scholars who are paving the way for the deepening of expertise in science and technology, as well as to our best institutions who are now working side-by-side with the foremost universities in the UK, to innovate on solutions in the areas of healthcare, digital literacy, and green energy, among others.”

Institutional Links grants develop research and innovation collaborations and support the exchange of expertise between academic groups, departments and institutions in the Philippines and the UK.

DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña highlighted the key principles of the Newton Agham Programme that are part of the Philippine government’s new 10-point economic agenda. Particularly, he refers to: investing in human capital development, including health and education systems, to meet the demands of business and private sector; improving social protection programs, for the protection of the citizenry, especially the disadvantaged from instability and economic shocks; and the promotion of science, technology, and the creative arts to enhance innovation and creativity towards self-sustaining and inclusive development.

Secretary dela Peña says, “These key items of our economic agenda, centred on creating genuine, positive change in our nation, through Science and Technology, underlies our renewed and reinvigorated determination to continue support for the Newton-Agham Programme”.

DOST is co-financing two Research Partnership Projects with the Research Councils UK, the 15 Leaders in Innovation Fellows with the UK Royal Academy of Engineering and the DOST PAGASA – UK Met Office partnership on Weather and Climate Science for Service.

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