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UK launches £15.3m fund to aid African research

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The UK’s science academy, Royal Society and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) have together launched a £15.3 million fund to support research in Africa.

The fund will help build links between African research laboratories and also strengthen their research capacity through mentoring, the SciDev.Net reported.

The fund aims at providing equipment and training for African scientists, and to establish researcher exchange programmes between the United Kingdom and sub-Saharan Africa.

“We hope the initiative will foster collaboration between these labs and help them to use their limited resources better. The UK lab will adopt a mentoring role, as it will have facilities that others don’t have, and experience of working as part of a research consortium,” Martyn Poliakoff, foreign secretary and vice-president of the Royal Society told the SciDev.Net publication.

According to the report, start-up grants of up to $39,000 will assist the formation of research consortia, and larger grants of almost $2 million will then support specific research programmes over a five-year period.

To qualify for the larger grants, projects must involve a consortium of one UK laboratory and three African laboratories. Research must focus primarily on water and sanitation, renewable energy, and soil, officials say.

Mr Poliakoff hoped the initiative will encourage other funding agencies and countries to promote capacity building for research in Africa.

Applications for grants will open in November 2012, according to the two institutions.

By Ekow Quandzie

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