UKRI projects awarded at Newton Prize 2018

UKRI projects awarded at Newton Prize 2018

Projects to create energy from coffee waste and to document the past for a more peaceful future are among the winners of the 2018 Newton Prize, which were celebrated last night (3 December) at a reception hosted by Professor Lord Robert Winston. 

The annual £1 million Newton Prize recognises pioneering research and innovations that come from international partnerships between the UK and Newton Fund partner countries around the world, with each project helping to solve global development challenges.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: 

“These prize winning international projects are uniting the brightest and best minds from across the globe to transform lives now and for generations to come. The Newton Prize and Newton Fund create, cultivate and celebrate these partnerships and I congratulate all the winners on their excellent work.”

This year the Newton Prize focussed on partnerships between the UK and Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico.  The 2019 Newton Prize will celebrate partnerships between the UK and China, Indonesia and the Philippines.

The five winning projects include several supported by UK Research and Innovation including the final Newton Prize announced on 3 December.

The Chair’s Award was given to the project: Documenting the past for a more peaceful future (awarded up to £192,400).

A collaboration between Goldsmiths University of London and the Alberto Hurtado University, in Chile, the research team has shown how the act of documenting politically-motivated imprisonment, torture or execution is an important way of resisting human rights violations. It allows affected societies to appreciate – often for the first time – the depth and scale of the trauma suffered by fellow citizens. This new line of research will support public policy and measures that help to move towards a more peaceful future. The project is supported by UKRI’s Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Also awarded was: Strengthening energy infrastructure to withstand extreme weather and natural disasters (awarded up to £200,000)

Scientists at the University of Manchester and University of Chile are using mathematical models to strengthen power systems in Chile and other countries vulnerable to environmental hazards, helping energy providers prevent or reduce widescale electricity outages. It will inform planning practices to help shape a robust, cost-effective and low-carbon Chilean transmission network. National and international networks developed through the project have built the capacity of researchers in the wider region, and the potential impact of this project could benefit countries affected by extreme weather and natural hazards worldwide. The project was supported by UKRI’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

The third UKRI- funded project to be awarded was: Turning environmentally damaging coffee waste into electricity (awarded up to £98,327)

Researchers from the University of Surrey and University of Antioquia in Colombia have found that environmentally damaging coffee waste could be turned into electricity. They discovered that if they fed coffee waste to microbes, the tiny creatures would eat it, producing energy. This energy could then be captured in the form of electricity. The researchers are now developing small fuel cell devices, and they hope to engage with large coffee companies in Europe to adopt the same approach to treating their waste if used successfully in Colombia. The project was supported by UKRI’s EPSRC and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences.

This is the second year of the Newton Prize, which is part of the Newton Fund. The Newton Fund builds research and innovation partnerships with 17 partner countries to support their economic development and social welfare, and to develop their research and innovation capacity for long-term sustainable growth. The prize allows researchers to take their existing Newton Fund projects to the next level.

You can find out about all of the prize winners on the Newton Fund website.