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Strong UK-Colombian research partnership praised during Presidential visit


Strong UK-Colombian research partnership praised during Presidential visit

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) celebrated its close research relationship with Colombia on Monday (17 June) when the President of Colombia, Iván Duque visited the Francis Crick Institute in London and met with researchers working to protect Colombia’s rich biodiversity for the future.

Addressing the President, UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive, Professor Sir Mark Walport said:

“UKRI recognises that in order to address the global and societal challenges we all face, it is imperative that UK researchers engage with the best minds, organisations and infrastructures, wherever they are in the world. And Colombia is a very important international partner in research and innovation for the UK.

“I have been pleased to see our partnership go from strength to strength in recent years, bolstered by our successful collaborations on programmes such as the Newton Fund and Global Challenges Research Fund.”

While having a tour of the Crick Institute, Iván Duque heard from UKRI-funded researchers working with Colombian counterparts.

Professor Frederica Di Palma, Director of Science at the Earlham Institute leads several Colombian research projects including GROW Colombia, a four-year, international collaboration funded through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). This initiative brings together a consortium of international partners to strengthen research capability in biological sciences, computational biology and socio-economic research under a shared vision centred on biodiversity conservation as a driver for peace and sustainable prosperity in Colombia.

While Dr France Gerard from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Centre for Ecology and Hydrology presented her PARAGUAS project looking at the Colombian Páramos - high mountain grassland-peatland biomes that have been shaped by humans over centuries. Her research, funded through the Newton Fund, aims to establish how the diversity of plants within the Páramos contributes to water regulation, via direct storage in live and dead vegetation and via the supply of organic matter in the soil as well as identifying how local Páramo inhabitants, interact with the Páramo to help them initiate more sustainable solutions.

At the event, Sir Mark announced a new £200k soil genomics training facility funded through the Newton Fund by NERC, which will help deliver molecular analysis training to many Colombian projects.

The facility will support the delivery of a number of research projects under the Exploring & Understanding Colombian Bio Resources programme, supported by NERC, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Colombian Administrative Department of Science, Technology & Innovation (Colciencias). The programme seeks to improve understanding of socio-ecological systems in the Colombian regions of Boyacá and Cundinamarca, and their response to environmental change, including climate, land use, and social or political change; and the underpinning role and value of biodiversity in these ecosystems.

Iván Duque praised the research relationship between the two countries, in particular the Newton Fund, and stressed the importance of biodiversity to Colombia and his desire to continue to work with UK and across the globe to address climate change together.

Further information

Read more about the Exploring & Understanding Colombian Bio Resources programme

The Newton Fund was launched in 2014 to reduce poverty by generating and putting into use knowledge and technology to address development challenges and advance development for the poorest people and countries. The Fund is being delivered through seven UK delivery partners including UKRI.

The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) is a £1.5 billion fund announced by the UK Government in late 2015 to support cutting-edge research that addresses the challenges faced by developing countries. The GCRF has nine delivery partners including UKRI.




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