Tuesday 14 March 2023

The Newton Fund supports researchers and innovators to find lasting solutions to global challenges such as human health, food security and climate change. The fund is managed by the UK’s Department of Science Innovation and Technology (DSIT), formerly known as Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

The underlying aim of the Newton Fund has been to support research which has a positive impact on the lives of people with low incomes, and to contribute to the broad economic development and social in South Africa. Sam Rametse, Science Programmes Manager for the British Council explains the importance of this area of focus:

“Very few disciplines have advanced humanity and improved the lives of people as much as science and technology. Through scientific research, new ways of thinking are born. The Newton Fund, drawing on the power of scientific advancement and collaboration, has made important advances towards humanity’s sustainable development goals. UK and South Africa have demonstrated through implementation of the Newton Fund what can be achieved through equitable, human-centred partnerships.”

For the past eight years the British Council has been a delivery partner for the Newton Fund in South Africa, bringing together graduates, early-career researchers, and institutions in the UK to collaborate and engage with our developmental challenges. Since 2014, several programmes have been delivered here such as the Institutional Links, Researcher Links, Researcher Connect, the Newton Fund Impact Scheme, the Newton Fund PhD programme and the Professional Development and Engagement programme.

With this extensive reach, eight years of the Newton Fund in South Africa is good reason to celebrate. Meekness Lunga, Senior Regional Programme Manager for the British Council Higher Education explains: 

“This eight-year milestone of the British Council supporting the delivery of Newton Fund in South Africa is significant. The programme provided opportunities for early career as well as seasoned researchers from South Africa to collaborate with their UK counterparts to advance research that is aligned with key local and global challenges. It also gave them a platform to develop and strengthen their skills, propelling many to the next phase of their research or academic careers. We expect that the impact of the research we supported will continue to be realised beyond the life cycle of the programmes, resulting in widespread, positive changes in local communities as well as the broader environment.”

Now that the Newton Fund is moving to closure, the British Council has expressed interest to become a partner organisation under a new global programme supporting international collaboration between the UK and partner countries funded by DSIT.

Going forward, this development has synergy with the priorities of the National Research Foundation (NRF). Nelson Komane, Professional Officer at the Human and Infrastructure Capacity Development (HICD) at the NRF outlines why:

“New opportunities for collaboration with international partners — accompanied by a renewed vigour for supporting the development of Science, Technology and Innovation capacity in SA and Africa — are fundamental to internationalisation. Forging new partnerships, and the renewal of existing partnerships which can lead to injection of funds, remains a priority for the NRF so that more students and researchers can be funded.”

Find out more about the impact of the Newton Fund, and how the British Council will continue to support science and innovation in South Africa. Watch the live stream: ‘Celebrating Eight Years of the Newton Fund in South Africa’ on 15th March 2023.

Notes to Editor

For more information, contact:

Sam Rametse

Programme Manager - Newton Fund



About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We build connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and other countries through arts and culture, education and the English language. Last year we reached over 80 million people directly and 791 million people overall, including online, broadcasts and publications. Founded in 1934, we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter.