Friday, December 05, 2008

TWAS, Microsoft, and the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) Announce Funding Programmes to Support Scientists in Africa .

By Brenda Zulu

TWAS, the academy of sciences of the developing world, Microsoft Research, and the African Academy of Science (AAS) announce the creation of the Microsoft Awards and Grants programme.

Microsoft Research, in partnership with TWAS (the academy of sciences for the developing world) and AAS (the African Academy of Sciences), will support two new programmes designed to recognize and assist scientists working in Africa in the field of computer science.

The Microsoft Award for Young Scientists will recognize young scientists in Africa whose research in computer science promises to have a positive impact in the developing world. Each year, three winners will be selected from different countries on the continent. Scientists who have received their most recent research degree within the past 10 years will be eligible. Each recipient will receive a euro €7,000 cash award.

Nominations may be made by members of national academies and senior academics. Winners will be chosen on the basis of their past achievements. The nomination and selection process will be administered by TWAS in collaboration with AAS.

The first winners of the prize will be announced in 2009. The award ceremonies will be held in Nairobi, Kenya, and organized by TWAS and AAS.

The Microsoft Grant for Scientific Meetings in Developing Countries aims to encourage the organization of international and regional scientific conferences and workshops in Africa. Microsoft will provide support in the form of travel grants for some principal speakers from abroad and/or participants from developing countries other than the country in which the event is held.

Applicants, who may be of any nationality, must be involved in the organization of international or regional scientific meetings to be held in Africa in the field of computer science. Selection will be undertaken by TWAS.

“To achieve the Millennium Development Goals, Africa must create knowledge- and skills-based wealth,” says Dr Cheick Modibo Diarra, Microsoft’s Chairman for Africa. “The prosperity of the continent is dependent on Africa’s small and medium enterprises relying on results from research and development. They can then develop locally relevant solutions and value-added opportunities that will lead to the accelerated industrialisation of Africa.”

Andrew Herbert, Managing Director of Microsoft Research Cambridge, adds: “Computer science has a key role to play in tackling some of the developing world’s greatest challenges, from education to infrastructure, and so it’s vital that we support and encourage the scientists and researchers who are working to address these issues.”

"TWAS and AAS are always eager to work with the private sector for the benefit of the developing world," observes Mohamed H.A. Hassan, executive director of TWAS and president of AAS. "We believe that this initiative will not only mark an important step forward for science in Africa, but will also serve as a valuable model for future partnerships between international organizations and for-profit companies."

more than 55 areas of computing and collaborate with leading academic, government and industry researchers to advance the state of the art in such areas as graphics, speech recognition, user-interface research, natural language processing, programming tools and methodologies, operating systems and networking, and the mathematical sciences. Microsoft Research currently employs more than 800 people in six labs located in Redmond, Wash.; Cambridge, Mass.; Silicon Valley, Calif.; Cambridge, England; Beijing, China; and Bangalore, India. Microsoft Research collaborates openly with colleges and universities worldwide to enhance the teaching and learning experience, inspire technological innovation, and broadly advance the field of computer science.

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