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SA, UK form Newton Fund to boost science and technology projects

“It’s a milestone in the science and innovation co-operation between our two countries,” Science Minister Naledi Pandor said at Parliament in Cape Town on Tuesday, at the launch of the SA-UK Newton Fund.

Pandor and UK Minister for Africa James Duddridge signed a memorandum of understanding to release R500-million over the next four years into various local projects and institutions, including the Medical Research Council (MRC), the National Research Foundation (NRF) and the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). 

Pandor said both countries would be making equivalent investments to the fund. The Newton Fund – which takes its name from renowned British scientist Sir Isaac Newton, best known for his work on the laws of motion – is aimed, according to the UK government website, at developing “science-innovation partnerships that promote the economic development and welfare of developing countries”. 

Pandor said funding would come from various sources. “There are funds from the UK [government]… and the various [UK] science councils are putting in some funding. “From South Africa, the science councils [including the MRC, the NRF and SKA] have made commitments.” 

In addition, her own department of science and technology had made some money available. Duddridge described the fund as not solely a government-to-government partnership, but one “between governments, between the private sector and also leveraging in 15 other country arrangements”. 

The main aim of the funding is to improve science and innovation expertise through grants and support to scientists, researchers and post-graduate students. – Sapa

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