Newton Fund: Supporting research in the emerging economies

NIMHANS is based in Bangalore, India - one of the Newton Fund's priority countries.

Collaborating internationally can be beneficial at any stage of a research career.

In addition to added impact and reach, working with collaborators around the world can give researchers access to expertise, facilities, and research environments that significantly broaden their networks and support their career development.

There are a wide variety of funding sources for international collaboration. The Newton Innovation Fund, a five year programme launched in 2014, provides £375 million in new funding to support research partnerships with emerging economies including the major economies of India, Brazil and China.

Here, in the first of a series of features providing first-hand experience of applying to the Newton Fund and similar programmes, we offer tips on how to apply, the benefits, and how smaller grants can be utilised as a springboard for attracting more significant grant funding over the longer term.

Professor Atif Rahman, Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, explains how he prepared a winning proposal

What made you apply to the Newton Innovation Fund?

“University of Liverpool has an ongoing collaboration with the National Institute for Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), a top Indian Institute for research.

“Dr Prabha Chandra, a senior academic from NIMHANS spent three months with me in Liverpool as part of the Liverpool – India Fellowship Programme to develop ideas for further joint research.

“Following extensive discussions, which involved experts from the University of York and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, we refined our research ideas and decided to apply to the fund.”

What type of fund did you apply for?

“We applied for a research grant under the ‘Joint Global Research Programme: Women’s and children’s health,’ jointly sponsored by the Medical Research Council (MRC) in the UK and the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) in India.  This was in collaboration with the Newton Fund to support Global Health Research, which brings together researchers from the UK, India and Low Income Countries.”

Why do you think your proposal was accepted?

“We built on a long-standing collaboration with a strong Indian partner and we worked collaboratively on the grant application by inviting Professor Chandra to Liverpool on a fellowship. It is also important to have a strong track-record and experience of delivering successful projects in South Asia.

“Success in these peer-reviewed proposals also depends on the strength of the proposal, significance of the problem it addresses, and robustness of the scientific methods applied.”

What is your project about?

“Over a third of pregnant women in South Asia are exposed to second-hand smoke (SHS) in their homes with serious health consequences, such as increased cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses, as well as their new-borns, with the risk of stillbirth, prematurity, and impaired cognitive development.

“On the other hand, the antenatal period provides a window of opportunity to change health-related behaviours for the entire family. Interventions with proven efficacy exist but have not been tested at a public-health level in South Asia.

“The broad aims of this project are to adapt existing evidence-based strategies, including maternal cotinine feedback; cognitive behavioural techniques to engage husband and family; and education, into a culturally appropriate, feasible multicomponent intervention.

“We also want to pilot the intervention for feasibility and acceptability in urban Bangalore, India and peri-urban/rural Dhaka and Bangladesh – sites situated in a region with the greatest burden of disease from SHS globally.”

What are the main benefits of receiving a newton grant?

“The grant will provide funds to develop what promises to be a powerful intervention to reduce second hand smoking exposure in pregnant women in developing countries where this is a big public health issue.

“If successfully piloted, the grant will lead to further joint applications for larger scale randomised trials. It will help build capacity in partner countries, and a great opportunity to learn from each other.”

What advice would you give to others considering an application to the Newton Fund?

“The key to our success has been the fostering of links between academics in Liverpool and the partner countries. Such links can be fostered through exchange visits, and by new researchers finding common areas of interest and complimentary strengths that can lead to strong proposals.”

For more information about the Newton Fund please visit the UK government’s website. Full details of all calls are detailed on the Newton pages of the UK HE International Unit website.

Contact Claire Kidman at the University’s International Development Office for further advice and gudiance – 





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