By John Agaba
Researchers in the health, agriculture, technology and food security sectors have been given a green light, where they can write research proposals and submit them to the European Union for funding.
This move follows the inception of a new EU funded research program, the Horizon 2020.
Under the programme, researchers will come up with concepts and develop research proposals which they will submit to the Union and if they qualify get the funding.
This was revealed Wednesday during the national council for science and technology (UNCST) workshop at Hotel Africana in Kampala.
Paul Cunningham, the coordinator IST-Africa Initiative, an organization that promotes research between Europe and Africa, said, the EU had set aside a total of 79b euros (about sh262trillion) to be competed for by research organizations the world over.
“It’s an open challenge,” said Cunningham. “Everyone, Europe, Africa, everyone is treated the same.”
To participate, he said, organizations and not individuals must collaborate with at least three (3) European partners from at least three (3) European member states.
“No individual proposals are accepted,” said Cunningham. “They must be organization proposals. And these organizations must partner with three European organizations from three European member states.”
He said the rules were intended at fostering cross-border collaborations and promoting research excellence. Proposals must spell out clearly how they will improve and make better society.
“They must be aligned with the specific topics that are provided for funding under the Horizon 2020,” said Cunningham.
Some of the topics, he said Ugandan organizations can develop their proposals around, among others, included health, food security, ICT, and environment.
Cunningham expressed admiration at the rate research in Uganda was growing, which he described as “fast”, adding that under the previous research program, the FP7, also funded by the EU, Ugandan organizations secured funding totaling 7.7million euros (about sh26b).
Of this, Makerere University scooped 4million euros (about sh13b).
The first deadline for proposals, Cunningham said, was around mid-April 2014. And the approved projects would start by the end of the year. “They will run for typically three (3) to five (5) years,” he said.
He said 15billion euros have been set aside for the first two years of the seven-year project.
He said the total budget for a small project shared between all the partners will be a fund from between 2million euros to 4million euros, while a large project shared between all the partners will take from 5million euros to 10million euros.
“Research in Uganda is improving very rapidly and participation in the Horizon 2020 is an opportunity for Ugandan organizations to showcase their capacity in research,” said Cunningham.
Dr. Fred Kigozi, the executive director of Butabika Hospital and the lead investigator of the Emerald project which won a grant under the previous FP7 scheme, explained the project was examining the burden of mental illnesses in low and middle income countries.
The project, a collaboration between the Kings College London, the World Health Organization, the Addis Ababa University and six other organizations, he said will seek to address other health and financial and social and developmental challenges suffered due to mental illnesses.
They will also try to project the incidences of the disease and its burden in low and middle income countries in the next 20 years.
He said mental illnesses in Uganda were on the rise.