UK Newton Fund takes 15 Filipino scientists to London

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Cooperation and exchanges with UK partners via the UK Government’s Newton Fund is paving the way for Philippine scientists and researchers to realize the full commercial potential of their research and contribute to a more sustainable economic growth.

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British Council Country Director Nicholas Thomas said: “The Philippines was one of 15 emerging economies that was prioritized for the Newton Fund when it was launched last year, and we’re delighted at the number of promising links that have already been created between institutions and researchers in the UK and the Philippines.”

With such importance, 15 Filipino scientists and business development specialists from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) underwent an eight-day training program in the UK that began on March 24. This is part of the Leaders in Innovation Fell owships program run by the Royal Academy of Engineering in the UK and in partnership with DOST and involving the Asian Institute of Management in the Philippines.

After the course in London and Oxford, the participants will continue receiving support in the Philippines to sharpen their business skills and refine their business plans to translate their research into viable commercial opportunities.

The technologies of the researchers include a dengue diagnostic kit for early detection, a biomedical device to improve access to quality healthcare in far-flung areas and shrimp-pathogen detection for shrimp farmers.

The 15 awardees also attended an education-themed event organized by the British Council Philippines for the visit by Princess Anne. The event also included the 10 British Council Newton Grant Awardees for Institutional and Researcher links.

Year 1 awardees are researchers from the country’s top schools, namely the Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, St. Luke’s College of Medicine, the University of the Philippines-Diliman, Manila and Los Baños, and the University of San Carlos.

The British Council Researcher Links awardees will receive grants that will provide early-career Filipino researchers with exposure to world-class research from the UK, either through bilateral workshops or travel grants. Institutional Links awardees will receive seed funding to build a local hub of UK-Philippine expertise on relevant areas of research such as transport and tourism in sustainable cities, biodiversity, and wireless sensor networks to improve agricultural processes.

The Newton Fund
The Newton Fund is a global £375 million fund for 5 years beginning 2014. Through the Newton Fund, the UK will use its strength in research and innovation to promote the economic development and social welfare of partner countries, just like the Philippines.

For British Ambassador to the Philippines Asif Ahmad, the Newton Fund here is a way for UK to expand cooperation. “We are convinced there is a lot of good researchers and innovative science here. Collaboration is at the heart of nearly all the great inventions,” he said.

A UK delegation composed of seven top research institutions including the University of Cambridge, University of Nottingham, University of Bristol, and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine has just visited the Philippines and met with researchers from top Philippine Universities for a two-day workshop on health research organized by the UK’s Medical Research Council and the Department of Science and Technology Philippine Council for Health Research and Development.

“World-class UK universities and institutions are keen to work with talented people and universities across the Philippines. I want to encourage experts here to look out for opportunities to work with the Newton Fund to build the relationships that can stimulate great science and innovation to boost long term prosperity in the Philippines,” the ambassador added.

MRC and DOST PCHRD will soon launch a call for proposals in the area of infectious diseases of relevance to the Philippines, and with particular focus on those diseases which impact the most vulnerable in society, such as dengue, drug-resistant TB, and malaria.

For 2015, there will be a range of other events and calls for research bids including British Council’s PhD Programmes, Institutional Links and Researcher Links, as well as BBSRC’s Rice Research Initiative.

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