NEWS15 March 2024

UKRI partners with researchers in South Africa and southeast Asia

Asia Pacific Healthcare Middle East and Africa News Public Sector Sustainability UK

UK – UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is investing £42m across three new programmes to support partnerships between researchers across Africa, southeast Asia and the UK.


The programmes, two of which are being launched in conjunction with like-minded international funders, include a focus on UKRI strategic themes such as building resilient infrastructure and tackling infections.

The intention is to create opportunities for experts in low- and middle-income countries and the UK to collaborate, share knowledge and ideas and strengthen the global research and innovation system.

The funding comes from Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding through the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology International Science Partnerships Fund (ISPF).

The three programmes include one focusing on sustainable and resilient aquaculture systems in Southeast Asia, which was launched on 24th January 2024 and will receive £12m funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

The programme will focus on improving the sustainability, resilience and productivity of aquaculture systems in south-east Asia to help increase food and nutrition security, the natural environment and climate, local community wellbeing, livelihoods and economic development that specifically adapt and build aquaculture systems.

The second, launched on 14th March 2024, is a £21m partnership between UKRI and seven co-funders in southeast Asia to ease the burden of infectious diseases with epidemic or antimicrobial resistance potential in the region.

The final programme, launched 12th February 2024, is a £9m collaboration between the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the South African Medical Research Council.

The programme covers three areas of thematic focus, one being research into non-communicable diseases such as mental and cardiovascular diseases in South Africa and potentially the wider African region.

Another theme is on climate and health that will address emerging, re-emerging, and endemic zoonotic, vector-borne and other diseases and antimicrobial resistance that are linked to climate change and the environment.

The third theme will target co-morbidity or multimorbidity of infectious diseases and non-communicable diseases.

Minister of state for science, research and innovation Andrew Griffith said: “Climate change, disease and food security are urgent and complex challenges that affect the health and wealth of people living across the globe. But by bringing the world’s brightest and best together, we can unlock ground-breaking solutions.

“This £42m investment will allow leading researchers and innovators in the UK to work with their peers in countries acutely affected by these challenges, pioneering discoveries that will benefit us all.”

UKRI international champion Professor Christopher Smith added: “We are delighted that through the International Science Partnerships Fund we can support global experts in the UK and throughout the world to use their knowledge and expertise to address the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and help secure a healthier, fairer and more resilient world for us all.

“We will continue to work with government and our funding partners in the UK and internationally to help build a stable research and innovation base with equity, diversity and sustainability at its heart.”