The UK-SA Newton Fund was launched this week in support of science, technology and innovation initiatives for socio-economic development.

According to the Department of Science and Technology (DST), the fund aims to act as a catalyst for development across Sub-Saharan Africa and will draw on the support of other countries across the continent.

SA and the UK have jointly committed up to R140 million towards the fund per year, which includes contributions from non-governmental bodies and the private sector, such as pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline.

“The fund will support projects in the thematic areas of public health, environment and food security, and science and technology capacity-building, with a focus on seeking to ensure that activities have a regional footprint, with the ultimate aim of encouraging research that boosts jobs and growth,” said the DST.

On Tuesday September 8th Science and Technology Minister, Naledi Pandor, and the UK’s Minister for Africa, James Duddridge, signed a memorandum of understanding for the first three years of the programme. Pandor said strong bilateral relations between SA and the UK bode well for the new commitment moving forward.

The medical research councils of both countries also announced three-year partnerships to collaborate on research projects in the areas of TB and non-communicable diseases, which will also see wider non-government participation.

Hopefully the joint venture will develop breakthroughs in healthcare relating of eHealth.

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