Press release

UK and Colombia agree new £20 million bioeconomy research programme

A new £20 million bioeconomy research programme has been announced by the UK and Colombia.

Nick Hurd and Yaneth Giha, Director of the Colombian national research agency Colciencias

Nick Hurd and Yaneth Giha, Director of the Colombian national research agency Colciencias

  • Minister for Industry and Climate Change Nick Hurd signs agreement for new Colombia bio programme
  • £20 million joint-funded programme will tap into economic and scientific opportunities in Colombian regions affected by conflict
  • Minister confirms government is already contributing £45 million tackling deforestation in Colombia

A new £20 million bioeconomy research programme, responsible for developing new drugs, medicines, biofertilisers and pollution tackling products, has been announced by the UK and Colombia today (2 November 2016).

The agreement between the 2 countries was signed at the Natural History Museum during an Environmental Serial led by Nick Hurd, Minister for Industry and Climate Change, and Yaneth Giha, Director of the Colombian national research agency Colciencias.

Minister for Industry and Climate Change Nick Hurd said:

The UK is Colombia’s number one partner for research collaboration and a vital ally in the fight to halt and reverse deforestation.

The £20 million Colombia Bio programme is a significant moment in our relationship giving our world leading researchers and scientists the opportunity to work closely with Colombian counterparts tackling global challenges, addressing developmental issues and unlocking the full potential of Colombia’s biodiverse geography.

The Colombia Bio programme, supported through The Newton-Caldas fund, is a joint partnership between the UK and Colombia worth £8 million each year, and will address the development challenges of Colombia. The fund has aided closer bilateral relations between the 2 countries, addressing post- conflict development issues in isolated regions throughout Colombia.

Director of the Colombian national research agency Colciencias, Yaneth Giha said:

The United Kingdom is as a key strategic partner of Colombia in our quest for peace through research and innovation on biodiversity. Therefore both nations must keep working together for a sustainable and long-lasting scientific cooperation.

Colombia is the world’s second most biodiverse nation and the new bio programme, funded by the UK government Newton-Caldas Fund (the name for the Newton Fund in Colombia), will be responsible for ground breaking research to develop new drugs and medicines, pollution tackling products and biofertilisers that can sustainably increase crop yields across the country.

Colombia is also the UK’s number one partner in the fight to halt and reverse deforestation, which is the second-largest source of global greenhouse gas emissions. This is why we have already pledged to provide £45 million support to address deforestation in Colombia focussed mainly on the Amazon region. UK-based firms including Unilever and Marks and Spencer have committed to take deforestation out of their supply chains by 2020, including sourcing more materials from countries leading the charge against deforestation.

The UK has also signed a memorandum of understanding with Colombia, Germany and Norway to increase support and tackle the problem on an even bigger scale.

At the conclusion of the Environmental Serial, President Santos was gifted a picture of a new species of ringlet butterfly, Magneuptychia pax (the “Peace Butterfly”), named in recognition of the ongoing peace process work taking place in Colombia. The new species was discovered in the Amazon and described based on a study by an international team of experts, led by Dr Blanca Huertas Senior Curator of Lepidoptera at the Natural History Museum.

Notes to Editors

Colombia Bio

The Colombia Bio programme comprises 3 elements:

  1. Bio expeditions, to build the biodiversity inventory in Colombia, strengthening the nation’s biological collections.
  2. Bio research and development, to connect scientific research to private funding.
  3. Bio products, to commercial prototypes using market intelligence and market technology.

The UK scientific community is working across Colombian regions to pass on knowledge for bioscience development and is building project structuring teams across Colombia to design high impact science programmes using British methodology.

Newton Fund

The Newton Fund builds science and innovation partnerships with 16 partner countries to support their economic development and social welfare, and to develop their research and innovation capacity for long-term sustainable growth. It has a total UK government investment of £735 million up until 2021, with matched resources from the partner countries.

The Newton Fund is managed by the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and delivered through 15 UK delivery partners, which include the Research Councils, the UK Academies, the British Council, Innovate UK and the Met Office.

For further information visit the Newton Fund website and follow via Twitter: @NewtonFund.

Published 2 November 2016