The shortlist for the prestigious £1 million 2018 Newton Prize has been published, featuring 22 proposals between researchers in the UK and Brazil, Chile*, Colombia and Mexico.

Each year the Newton Prize is awarded to projects that demonstrate the best science or innovation; promoting the economic development and social welfare of Newton partner countries. The prize sheds light on the challenges faced by the developing world and how Newton Fund partnerships are helping to solve them. It also incentivises researchers to join the Newton Fund as partners with the UK to address global challenges such as poverty, climate change and public health.

This year 140 Newton funded projects, fellowships or other awards applied for the Newton Prize. Four prizes of up to £200,000 each will be awarded to winning projects with the eligible Latin American countries. There will also be an additional prize (the Chair’s Award) of £200,000 for a project with the potential for broader impact with other developing countries.

Applications for this year’s prize were received from a range of institutions, including universities and companies from the UK and abroad. Shortlisted applications take on numerous sustainable development goals: from improving health and wellbeing to reducing inequalities, building sustainable cities, and contributing to peace and justice. They also span the Newton Fund’s three pillars of work: the development of people, new research, and translating ideas into innovations.

Sir Venki Ramakrishnan, Newton Prize Committee Chair and President of the Royal Society and Nobel Laureate, said: “As the Chair of the judging committee I am thrilled that we have such an exciting and competitive shortlist and I look forward to working with the international judging committee to decide the winners.

“One of the aims of the Newton Prize is to highlight the lasting partnerships developed between UK researchers and their colleagues in Newton Fund partner countries to solve global challenges.

“Latin America has a wealth of excellent researchers working in collaboration with the UK to tackle issues as diverse as post conflict studies, biodiversity, health and energy through the Newton Fund partnerships in the region.  Science and innovation often depends on working in partnership across the globe: sharing knowledge and resources to enhance our understanding and make discoveries with the potential to change lives.”

Sir Venki leads a distinguished and independent Newton Prize committee with expertise in the development sector, the Latin American region as well as science and innovation. The committee will review the short-listed applications, along with feedback from expert peer reviewers, and choose the winners.

During November the shortlisted projects below will be celebrated at award events taking place in Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico, where the winning project for that country will be announced. These events will be followed by a UK reception in December hosted by Sam Gyimah MP, the Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation to celebrate international and science innovation collaborations.

The shortlisted applications are as follows:

Bioelectrochemical systems to reduce the environmental impact of coffee agro-industry. Project lead: Associate Professor Lina María Agudelo Escobar, Microbiology School of University of Antioquia.

Peace-building and equitable development in Colombia: using community-based knowledge as a basis for negotiated development strategies at the intersection of urban and rural areas.
Project partners: Maria Soledad Garcia Ferrari, Senior Lecturer in Architectural Design, University of Edinburgh and Monica Elizabeth Mejia Escalante, Professor, National University of Colombia Medellín Campus.

Biomarkers of therapeutic response in children affected by neglected tropical diseases.

Project partners: Richard Burchmore, Senior Lecturer, University of Glasgow and Maria Adelaida Gomez, Coordinator, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Unit, CIDEIM International Training and Medical Research Center.

Sustainable Energy Storage Technologies using Palm Tree Residues from Colombia. 
Project partners: Professor Magdalena Titirici, Queen Mary University of London and Diana Lopez, Professor and Group Coordinator, University of Antioquia.

To scale up the development of an intelligent water measurement device at the industrial level in order to save this valuable resource in Colombia and to serve as a model to be replicated in other countries. Project lead: Jimy Alexander Aguirre, Hardware Coordinator.

Design, creation and implementation of a “Mineral Benefit School Plant, municipality of Segovia – Antioquia, Colombia”.
Project lead: Lesli Zapata Sánchez, Co-founder and Assistant Management, Nanotecol.