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Newton-Ungku Omar Fund Open Day – bringing together the science, technology and innovation community in Malaysia

The Newton-Ungku Omar Fund Open Day was held in Kuala Lumpur on 25 July 2017, to celebrate the successes of the fund’s projects so far and to look forward to a bright future. 

Malaysia and the United Kingdom have agreed to extend the Newton-Ungku Omar Fund to 2021 with up to a 50 per cent increase in committed funding and resources from both countries. This will allow the fund to promote larger-scale research calls, innovation-focussed activities and capacity building activities that support the Malaysia’s development needs.

The announcement was made at during the open day held at the MiGHT Partnership Hub in Cyberjaya, by Prof. Emeritus Tan Sri Zakri Abdul Hamid, Malaysia’s Science Advisor to the Prime Minister and Her Excellency Vicki Treadell, British High Commissioner to Malaysia.

“Malaysia is one of the most active of the 18 Newton Fund countries, with one of the highest averages in respect of the quality of their applications. Currently 18 British and Malaysian funding organisations work together to offer funding opportunities for researchers. A total of 28 activities have been established and approximately 100 funding grants awarded since the Fund’s inception in 2014,” said Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Zakri Abdul Hamid.

Her Excellency Vicki Treadell echoed this sentiment, “The Newton-Ungku Omar Fund enables the UK and Malaysia to collaborate in various areas in science, technology and innovation. It demonstrates the commitment from both countries to support sustainable development, promoting cross-cutting technology and innovative solutions, and building capacity in science and research.”

At the event, Professor Datuk Dr Asma Ismail, President of Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM) also presented approximately £4.6 million worth of research grants to twelve winning collaborative projects under the ‘Bilateral medical and health research in non-communicable diseases’ programme. Funded by ASM and the UK’s Medical Research Council, this two-year programme sees Malaysian and British medical researchers working together on research to tackle non-communicable disease prevalent in Malaysia.

The open day also saw the launch of the Weather and Climate Science for Service Partnership (WCSSP) in Malaysia as part of a wider southeast Asian programme in partnership with the UK Met Office. 

More than 400 academic researchers, people from small-medium enterprises and government agencies, and current Fund recipients attended the open day and participated in a series of talks, workshops and showcases by the Fund’s Malaysian delivery partners and successful awardees.  

Some of the activities held included science communication skills training by British Council Malaysia and ASM; a coaching session on intellectual property management by Malaysian Intellectual Property Office (MyIPO), UK Intellectual Property Office, and PlaTCOM Ventures Sdn Bhd; and briefing sessions for new funding opportunities. The session on how to write a good international collaboration proposal was especially popular with barely any standing space remaining. This demonstrates the appetite for knowledge among the Malaysian science and innovation community.

The Open Day was co-organised by Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT ) and the British High Commission Kuala Lumpur. 

Newton-Ungku Omar Fund programme officer Selina Ng blogged about the open day.

Read the local media coverage of the event in the Malaysian Digest and the New Straits Times.  Also in the New Straits Times a great article on science diplomacy, including the Met Office launch of WCSSP in Malaysia.