Newton Fund promotes cooperation between British and Brazilian

brasilobserver - Nov 10 2014
Brazil and the UK join forces for scientific discovery (Photo: Divulgation/UK in Brazil)

(Leia em Português)

For Alex Ellis, the UK ambassador for Brazil, the country is developing to become a scientific superpower

By Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation

Last month, three cooperation agreements between Brazil and the UK were signed through the Newton Fund, a British initiative aimed at promoting research and innovation in emerging countries.

The signing ceremony took place in Brasilain during the 11th National Week of Science and Technology and included Brazil’s National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq), National Council of State Foundations for Research Support (Confap) and Coordination of Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (Capes).

The Newton Fund was first announced in April this year by the UK Minister of Finance George Osborne and will allocate £27 million pounds to Brazil over the next three years. This will be invested in programs that provide training, academic mobility and bilateral research. Local institutions are committed to invest equivalent resources in return.


The president of CNPq, Glaucius Oliva, signed two memorandums, one with the deputy director of the British Council, Eric Klug, and the president of Confap, Sergio Gargioni, and another with the UK ambassador Alex Ellis.

According to Oliva, two of the initial partnerships with the Newton Fund involve CNPq and the first is a series of 10 workshops. “When you want to promote interaction between scientists from Brazil and the UK, a good way is to choose a topic, conduct a meeting and bring together leaders in that topic, so people can discuss what they are doing and from there, find common interests between these researchers to later develop into joint research,” he said.

Funded by CNPq, Confap and British Council through the Newton Fund, the series of workshops will approach the scientific communities in areas such as agriculture, bio fuels, industrial biotech, neglected diseases, drugs, water resources and food security.

The other agreement relates to a shared work program, “The goal is to identify researchers from both countries who are interested in doing joint research,” said Oliva. “The first document encourages the encounter of these people while the second is to give support to researchers to promote exchanges between laboratories.”


At the signing ceremony, the British ambassador for Brazil, Alex Ellis, said that the UK is a “scientific superpower”, with 76 Nobel prizes, 16% of the most cited scientific papers in the world and four of the six best universities on the planet. “But when I got here, I discovered that Brazil is well on the way, if not already a scientific superpower. It’s been amazing to see the increased investment and the return on this investment in recent decades of the country’s history,” Ellis said.

Brazil and the UK are usually best when they work together, Alex Ellis said. “The internationalisation of science is essential to overcome social challenges that we all have. Embrapa [Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation], for example, is a great result of Brazilian investments, and is working with the British government in the world’s poorest countries to tackle social problems”.

Capes and Confap

The president of Capes, Sergio Gargioni, said the document signed with the British Council complements research projects and training of human resources.

According to president of Capes, Jorge Guimarães, there is mutual interest in drug discovery, at the University of Nottingham, and areas such as agriculture, water and environment.