Africa Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) for Youth Employment, Human Capital Development and Inclusive Growth Nairobi, Kenya, April 1-3, 2012 Saul Hahn, Ph.D. International Consultant &Former Head of the Division of Science and Technology, Organization of American States (OAS) Strengthening Scientific Research: A New Deal for African Science, Microsoft model for Latin America (Virtual Institute) – a possible model for Africa The problem Scientists and engineers in Latin America and Africa, have problems in common. How to : Increase visibility and quality of their research Raise research collaboration intra-region • Strengthen research capacity. • Graduate students mobility within the region Several components are involved in the establishment of the Latin American and Caribbean Collaborative ICT Research Federation, LACCIR (Virtual Institute) • Regional Political Support: OAS ( AU) • Private Sector Funds: MSR (Possibly Other corporations) • Regional Agency Funds: IADB (AfDB) • Governmental support and funds: Mexico, Chile, Colombia, other countries (African Countries) • Participant Universities and Research Centers of LAC (Africa)) Organization “””””” “ “HUB” Universities managing LACCIR Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (legal representative) Universidad de Chile ”Spoke” Universities federated to LACCIR: Argentina: Universidad de Buenos Aires Brazil: PUC, Rio Costa Rica: Universidad de Costa Rica Mexico: Tecnológico de Monterrey & Instituto Politécnico Nacional Uruguay: Universidad de la República --Colombia : Univ. de los Andes Ecuador, Universidad Politecnica de Guayaquil Trinidad & Tobago: University of the West Indies Sponsors: MSR, IADB, CONACYT (Mexico), OAS, Universities and researchers CONICIT (Chile), Virtual Institute main activities Supports grants in ICT collaborative research projects within LAC: seed grant money from MSR, IADB. Government of Mexico Funding for LAC graduate students mobility: short-stays, internships, fellowships in LAC universities and MSR. Web Portal: Information on ICT researchers, projects & graduate programs, data collection & statistics (publications, thesis, projects, R&D resources). Workshops and summer schools CXP for video-conferencing and e-learning. MS software/servers platform. . RFP 2007 USD 250,000 MSR grant distributed among 5 projects Participants: 18 105 29 11 Proposals Submitted Researchers Involved Institutions Involved Countries 5 Winner Proposals: 23 Researchers Involved 12 Institutions Involved 7 Countries 4 ICT Application areas: Education, Productive Chains, e-Government and Healthcare SSP: Short Stay Program started in 2008, a yearly program Main goal: Supporting the research work of M.Sc. and Ph.D. students. Open to all universities in the Latin American and Caribbean region. Visiting a research center in a different LAC country of her/his university. • Request for Proposals (RFP) 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 Every year, 5 to 6 new projects are approved, each for $50,000 Request for Proposals Basic Requirements High Quality Research in areas of specific interest, ICT applied to fields such as Education , Health care, Energy, Environment & Climate Change Collaboration: at least two different LAC countries and one spoke university Potential matching funds Expanded partnership with IDB • New project, that addresses complex scientific problems and requires extensive use and expertise of information technologies, was approved in 2009-2010. • It supports RFP based on sector areas such as: health, education, energy, environment and climate global change, of mutual interest to IDB and the Virtual Institute. Government of Mexico: Newest Partner , 2010 The National Council for Science and Technology of Mexico became a new partner of the Federation. A formal agreement was signed in May, 2010 In an innovative approach, Mexico provides financial support to its national universities for joint Federation projects, as well as support for LACCIR graduates and postdocs to do research in Mexican universities. Other partners: US National Science Foundation Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI) Science and Technology Council, CONICIT, Chile Colombia Science and Technology Council, COLCIENCIAS In its latest edition, RFP 2011 The virtual Institute received 32 research proposals from 49 institutions in 14 different countries and connected 125 researchers Healthcare (2), Education (1), e-Government (1), Environment &Climate Change (2) , from Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Costa Rica, Uruguay and Bolivia Sponsors: Microsoft Research, IDB , CONACYT (Mexico) Some Conclusions Having political consensus is significant, e.g. ministerial meetings, high level summits. Corporate funds allowed for a fast implementation; in this case MSR Having partners is very important. It allows not only to bring additional funding, but builds important consensus, e.g. InterAmerican Development Bank. Partners become involved with the governing structure, which in turn motivates newer affiliates. New partners may bring added pools of talent, e.g., InterAmerican Institute for Global Change research (IAI) Institute for Global Change Research. Some Conclusions (cont.) The direct financial contribution of governments to the Federation, e.g. Mexico: Allows the incorporation of additional national universities, while maintaining the guidelines standards and evaluation of the international federation. Facilitates researchers and graduate students to spend time in the sponsoring country. It helps the Federation and benefits the local universities. Original sponsors would like to see newer partners, to make the initial Virtual Institute self sustainable. newer sources of funding. Additional partners actually translate into a measure of access CONCLUSION: The virtual Institute described here, could be applied to any area of STI that is of mutual interest to the possible Regional African Partners. Similarly to the OAS in the Americas, the AU could provide the political needed support to bring into focus Africa’s problems. The theme of the last AU summit was “Boosting Intra-Africa Trade” Africa’s equivalent to the IDB in the Americas, The African Development Bank, in partnership with other regional and International Organizations, including TWAS, could provide necessary advice and financial resources. As is the case with MSR, this could be done, with interested corporations, e.g. IT, telecoms and energy companies, working towards a similar virtual institute. Governmental support and funds also provided by African States Participant African Universities and Research Centers Asante Sana! Thank You!