The British government, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Philippine Rice Research Institute are jointly providing over £10 million (about P620 million) for grants and collaborative projects in the third year of the Newton Agham Programme.
The science grants aim to help solve core challenges in long-term social and economic development in the Philippines, including energy security, disaster response, health care, environmental resilience and food security.
British Ambassador Asif Ahmad said, “While capitalizing on the Philippines and the strength of the United Kingdom in research and innovation, jointly supporting these projects shall create significant impact on improving living standards and promoting economic growth.”
He added, “Solutions to development challenges are created alongside the advancement of the UK and Philippine science and innovation expertise, which are key drivers to economic development.”
Awardees were recognized in a reception held at the British Ambassador’s residence on February 7. The UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and PhilRice are cofunding research projects on the sustainable production of rice; two projects are working on improving the nutritional quality of rice, while the other two focus on creating greater resilience of the rice plant to diseases and environmental stresses due to climate change.
The awards also include eight PhD scholarships and 10 Institutional Links grants, both co-funded by the British Council and CHED.
CHED Chairman Patricia Licuanan said, “We are pleased to jointly award, in partnership with the British Council-Newton Fund, grants to our top scholars who are paving the way for the deepening of expertise in science and technology, as well as to our best institutions who are now working side by side with the foremost universities in the UK, to innovate on solutions in the areas of health care, digital literacy and green energy, among others.”
Institutional Links grants develop research and innovation collaborations and support the exchange of expertise between academic groups, departments and institutions in the Philippines and the UK.
Meanwhile, Science Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña highlighted the key principles of the Newton Agham Programme that are part of the Philippine government’s new 10-point economic agenda.
He was particularly referring to investing in human-capital development, including health and education systems, to meet the demands of business and private sector; improving social protection programs, for the protection of the citizenry, especially the disadvantaged from instability and economic shocks; and the promotion of science, technology, as well as the creative arts to enhance innovation and creativity toward self-sustaining and inclusive development.
De la Peña said, “These key items of our economic agenda, centered on creating genuine, positive change in our nation through science and technology, underlies our renewed and reinvigorated determination to continue support for the Newton-Agham Programme.”
The DOST is cofinancing two research partnership projects with the UK’s Research Councils, the 15 Leaders in Innovation Fellows with the UK Royal Academy of Engineering and the DOST Pagasa-UK Met Office partnership on Weather and Climate Science for Service. PNA