Malaysia and the United Kingdom are extending the Newton-Ungku Omar Fund – a collaborative effort between the governments of both countries to promote science, technology and innovation collaboration. The Fund has now been extended from 2019 to 2021 with up to 50% increase in committed funding and resources from both countries to promote larger-scale research calls, innovation-focussed and capacity building activities that support the development agendas of Malaysia.
The announcement was jointly made at the Newton-Ungku Omar Fund Open Day held today at MiGHT Partnership Hub in Cyberjaya, by Prof. Emeritus Tan Sri Zakri Abdul Hamid, Malaysia’s Science Advisor to the Prime Minister and Her Excellency Vicki Treadell, British High Commissioner to Malaysia.
The event was officiated by minister in the Prime Minister’s department, YB Dato’ Seri Hajjah Nancy Shukri, who is also the minister in charge of the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT). In her speech, she highlighted the importance of science and technology.
Science and technology (S&T) are the enablers or catalysts for many of our economic development. The Malaysian government is giving emphasis on S&T 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 for global issues.
Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Zakri Abdul Hamid said:
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 approximately 100 funding grants awarded since the Fund’s inception in 2014.
Her Excellency Vicki Treadell echoed this sentiment. She said:
The Newton-Ungku Omar Fund secures UK and Malaysian collaboration in various areas in science, technology and innovation. It 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.
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 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, Professor Datuk Dr Asma Ismail, President of Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM) also presented approximately £4.6 million worth of research grants to twelve winning collaborative projects under the ‘Bilateral medical and health research in non-communicable diseases’ programme. Funded by ASM and Medical Research Council UK, this two-year programme sees Malaysian and British medical researchers working together on research to tackle non-communicable diseases prevalent in Malaysia.
More than 400 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 Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MiGHT) and the British High Commission Kuala Lumpur.