UKRI announces new investment for international collaborations

Two scientists working together in a lab

UK and international researchers are being supported to tackle health challenges today and develop the technologies of tomorrow with new partnership programmes.

Disease prevention, sustainable aquaculture and capacity strengthening for early career researchers are among the areas that will be addressed.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is investing a total of £42 million of Official Development Assistance (ODA) through the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology International Science Partnerships Fund (ISPF) across three new programmes.

The programmes, two of which are being launched in conjunction with like-minded international funders, include a focus on UKRI strategic themes, such as building resilient infrastructure and tackling infections. They will create opportunities for experts in low and middle-income countries and the UK to collaborate, share knowledge and ideas and, in doing so, will strengthen the global research and innovation system.

New research collaborations

The three programmes being announced today that will enable partnerships between researchers across Africa, south-east Asia and the UK are:

Sustainable and resilient aquaculture systems in south-east Asia

Launched 15 January 2024, this £12 million programme is funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

The programme will focus on enhancing the sustainability, resilience and productivity of aquaculture systems in south-east Asia. The aim is to improve food and nutrition security, the natural environment and climate, local community wellbeing, livelihoods and economic development that specifically adapt and build aquaculture systems.

South Africa-UK health research collaboration: non-communicable disease, climate and health, one health and zoonosis and multimorbidity of infectious diseases and NCDs

Launched 12 February 2024, this £9 million programme is a partnership between the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the South African Medical Research Council.

The programme covers three areas of thematic focus. One theme will support research into non communicable diseases such as mental and cardiovascular diseases in South Africa and potentially the wider African region.

Another theme is on climate and health, one health and zoonosis that will address emerging, re-emerging, and endemic zoonotic, vector-borne and other diseases and antimicrobial resistance that are linked to climate change and the environment.

The third theme will target co-morbidity or multimorbidity of infectious diseases and non-communicable diseases.

UKRI-south-east Asia collaboration on infectious diseases

Launching 14 March 2024, this £21 million programme is a partnership between UKRI and seven co-funders in south-east Asia.

The programme aims to ease the burden of infectious diseases with epidemic or antimicrobial resistance potential in south-east Asia. It will contribute to disease resilience, through spread prediction, control and eradications to ensure a healthier population worldwide.

The co-funders are:

  • Agricultural Research Development Agency (ARDA) Thailand
  • Direktorat Jenderal Pendidikan Tinggi Kementerian Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan Republik Indonesia (DRTPM DIKTI) Indonesia
  • Health Systems Research Institute (HSRI) Thailand
  • Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) Malaysia
  • Ministry of Higher Education (NAFOSTED) Vietnam
  • Programme for Research in Epidemic Preparedness and REsponse (PREPARE) Singapore on behalf of National Research Foundation (NRF) Singapore
  • Philippines Council for Health Research and Development, Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCHRD) Philippines

Earlier this week, two additional programmes were launched by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and partners in Africa and the UK. The programmes will advance physics in areas including radio astronomy and sustainable energy as part of this tranche of ODA programmes through ISPF.

Increasing international collaboration

Minister of State for Science, Research and Innovation Andrew Griffith said:

Climate change, disease and food security are urgent and complex challenges that affect the health and wealth of people living across the globe. But by bringing the world’s brightest and best together, we can unlock groundbreaking solutions.

This £42 million investment will allow leading researchers and innovators in the UK to work with their peers in countries acutely affected by these challenges, pioneering discoveries that will benefit us all.

Sharing expertise

UKRI’s International Champion Professor Christopher Smith said:

Supporting researchers and innovators to build equitable, diverse and sustainable partnerships to tackle some of humanity’s most complex challenges and transform lives is a core mission for UK-aid investments.

We are delighted that through the International Science Partnerships Fund, we can support global experts in the UK and throughout the world.  They will use their knowledge and expertise to address the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and help secure a healthier, fairer and more resilient world for us all.

We will continue to work with government and our funding partners in the UK and internationally to bring the brightest minds from across the world to foster excellent research and change lives.

UKRI is one of a consortium of UK delivery partners for ISPF. Find out more information about the International Science Partnerships Fund and see opportunities through the fund.

Top image:  Credit: Marco VDM, E+, via Getty Images

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