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UK Foreign Secretary visit to Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST)

4 May 2016

As part of an official visit to Vietnam, the UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond paid a site visit to the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST) on 12 April 2016, accompanied by the British Ambassador and the British Council Country Director. The Foreign Secretary was warmly welcomed by VAST senior management and Newton Fund awardees currently working at VAST.

Under the Newton Fund, VAST’s Institute of Chemistry and Brighton University have recently been awarded an Institutional Links grant to undertake a two-year research project on “The formulation of curcumin preparation with enhanced bioavailability for manufacturing in Vietnam”*.  The Vietnamese co-Principal Investigator of the joint research project, Dr Tu,  gave the Foreign Secretary some background about the project, which had been previously and successfully supported by British Council and the FCO, and led him through the various lab and production facilities to see the research work at first hand. The Foreign Secretary also enjoyed a quick chat with three scientists at VAST who shared their experience as beneficiaries of the Newton Researcher Links Travel grants and Leaders in Innovation Fellowship programmes in the UK. The Foreign Secretary took a keen interest in the curcurmin project showing a detailed level of understanding of the research challenges outlined by the PI. The visit was much appreciated by VAST staff who went to considerable lengths to make the short visit a success and to demonstrate the mutual benefit of UK-VN research collaboration under the Newton Fund. Before leaving VAST, the Foreign Secretary gave an interview to VTV1 (equivalent of BBC1) to share his impressions about the Newton project at VAST and more broadly about the achievements of the Newton Fund Vietnam and perspectives for the future.

In addition to this event, the Newton Fund was among the points covered in the UK Foreign Secretary’s meetings with the new Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and the Deputy Prime Minister cum Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh. The Foreign Secretary’s visit also provided opportunities to engage more closely with the Ministry of Education and Training and the Vietnam National University Hanoi, a leading Vietnamese University.