Stepping up on sci­ence tie-ups

New Straits Times - - Higher Ed - ROZANA SANI rsani@nst.com.my

MALAYSIA and the United King­dom are set to step up col­lab­o­ra­tions in the ar­eas of sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy and in­no­va­tion with the ex­ten­sion of the New­ton-Ungku Omar Fund.

Started in 2014, the fund has thus far en­abled lo­cal re­searchers to col­lab­o­rate with research part­ners in the UK on pro­jects that ad­dress spe­cific is­sues on cli­mate change and sus­tain­abil­ity. An­nounced last week, the ex­ten­sion will see a 50 per cent in­crease in com­mit­ted re­sources and fund­ing from both coun­tries from 2019 to 2021 to pro­mote larger-scale research calls, in­no­va­tion-fo­cused ac­tiv­i­ties and ca­pac­ity build­ing ac­tiv­i­ties that sup­port the development agen­das of Malaysia.

“Malaysia is one of the most ac­tive of the 18 New­ton Fund coun­tries, with one of the high­est av­er­ages in re­spect of the qual­ity of their ap­pli­ca­tions. Cur­rently, 18 Bri­tish and Malaysian fund­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions work to­gether to of­fer fund­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for re­searchers. A to­tal of 28 ac­tiv­i­ties have been estab­lished and about 100 fund­ing grants awarded since the fund’s in­cep­tion in 2014,” said Pro­fes­sor Emer­i­tus Tan Sri Zakri Ab­dul Hamid, Malaysia’s Sci­ence Ad­vi­sor to the Prime Min­is­ter.

Bri­tish High Com­mis­sioner to Malaysia Vicki Tread­ell said the New­ton-Ungku Omar Fund demon­strates the com­mit­ment by both coun­tries to­wards sus­tain­able development, pro­mot­ing cross-cut­ting tech­nol­ogy and in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions, and build­ing ca­pac­ity in sci­ence and research. “It is a key pil­lar of our bi­lat­eral part­ner­ship,” she added.

Both Zakri and Tread­ell were speak­ing at the New­ton-Ungku Omar Fund Open Day which was graced by the Min­is­ter in the Prime Min­is­ter’s Depart­ment, who is also the Min­is­ter in charge of the Malaysian In­dus­try-Gov­ern­ment Group for High Tech­nol­ogy (MIGHT), Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri.

In her speech, she said: “Sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy are the en­ablers or cat­a­lysts for many of our eco­nomic development. The Malaysian gov­ern­ment is giv­ing em­pha­sis in sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy to en­sure the sus­tain­able development of the coun­try. In­ter­na­tional col­lab­o­ra­tion pro­grammes and ac­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing the New­ton-Ungku Omar Fund is a good model to spur strate­gic part­ner­ship in find­ing so­lu­tions of the global is­sues.”

The New­ton-Ungku Omar Fund has been pro­gress­ing rapidly. A co­he­sive range of research and in­no­va­tion ac­tiv­i­ties have kicked off that in­clude col­lab­o­ra­tions on health research in­volv­ing the UK Med­i­cal Research Coun­cil and the Acad­emy of Sciences Malaysia; con­tin­ued work on ca­pac­ity build­ing by Bri­tish Coun­cil and the UK Acad­e­mies; and a large scale Research and In­no­va­tion Bridges pro­gramme on sus­tain­able ur­ban­i­sa­tion, led by In­no­vateUK, Research Coun­cils UK and MIGHT.

New pro­grammes rolling out this year in­clude col­lab­o­ra­tions to im­prove un­der­stand­ing of the im­pacts of hy­drom­e­te­o­ro­log­i­cal haz­ards led by MIGHT and Natural En­vi­ron­ment Research Coun­cil UK; and pro­grammes for de­liv­er­ing trans­fer­able skills in sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing and maths (STEM), fo­cussing on trans­for­ma­tive and high-qual­ity col­lab­o­ra­tive pro­jects to raise skill lev­els in Malaysia in­volv­ing Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Fa­cil­i­ties Coun­cil UK and MoHE.

The New­ton-Ungku Omar Fund Open Day brought Malaysia’s sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy and in­no­va­tion com­mu­nity to­gether to cel­e­brate the suc­cess of the fund thus far. The event saw the launch of the Weather and Cli­mate

In­ter­na­tional col­lab­o­ra­tion pro­grammes and ac­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing the New­ton-Ungku Omar Fund is a good model to spur strate­gic part­ner­ship in find­ing so­lu­tions of the global is­sues.

nanCy Shukri Min­is­ter in the Prime Min­is­ter’s Depart­ment

Sci­ence for Ser­vice Part­ner­ship (WCSSP) — a land­mark col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the UK Met Of­fice and Na­tional Dis­as­ter Man­age­ment Agency (NADMA) Malaysia, Malaysian Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Depart­ment (MetMalaysia), Na­tional Hy­draulic Research In­sti­tute of Malaysia (NAHRIM), and Depart­ment of Ir­ri­ga­tion and Drainage (DID) Malaysia. This project aims to har­ness Malaysian and Bri­tish sci­en­tific ex­per­tise to im­prove fore­casts for se­vere weather in Malaysia and the re­gion, to save lives and pro­tect liveli­hoods.

At the event, Pres­i­dent of Acad­emy of Sciences of Malaysia (ASM), Pro­fes­sor Datuk Dr Asma Is­mail also pre­sented about £4.6 mil­lion (RM25.77 mil­lion) worth of research grants to twelve win­ning col­lab­o­ra­tive pro­jects un­der the “Bi­lat­eral med­i­cal and health research in non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases (NCDs)” pro­gramme. Funded by ASM and Med­i­cal Research Coun­cil UK, the two-year pro­gramme sees Malaysian and Bri­tish med­i­cal re­searchers work­ing to­gether on research to tackle NCDs preva­lent in Malaysia.

Aca­demic re­searchers, small-medium en­ter­prises, cur­rent fund re­cip­i­ents amongst oth­ers at­tended the Open Day and par­tic­i­pated in a se­ries of talks, work­shops and show­cases by the fund’s Malaysian de­liv­ery part­ners and suc­cess­ful awardees.

Some of the ac­tiv­i­ties in­cluded sci­ence com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills train­ing by Bri­tish Coun­cil Malaysia and ASM, a talk on “How to write a good in­ter­na­tional col­lab­o­ra­tion pro­posal”, a talk and coach­ing ses­sion on in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty man­age­ment by Malaysian In­tel­lec­tual Prop­erty Of­fice (MyIPO), UK In­tel­lec­tual Prop­erty Of­fice, and PlaTCOM Ven­tures Sdn Bhd, and brief­ing ses­sions for new fund­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.

The Open Day was co-or­gan­ised by MIGHT and the Bri­tish High Com­mis­sion Kuala Lumpur.

Zakri Ab­dul Hamid

PIC­TURE BY SAIFULLIZAN TAMADI

Nancy Shukri (sev­enth from right) with the re­cip­i­ents of the research grants to 12 win­ning col­lab­o­ra­tive pro­jects un­der the New­ton-Ungku Omar Fund. To her right are Vicky Tread­ell, Asma Is­mail and Zakri Ab­dul Hamid.

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