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Think tank targets health researchers, innovators with Sh713m fund

A lab technician at work in Kenya: Innovators and researchers interested in obtaining can submit their proposals and apply for grants on AESA's website. PHOTO | FILE
A lab technician at work in Kenya: Innovators and researchers interested in obtaining can submit their proposals and apply for grants on AESA's website. PHOTO | FILE 

A multimillion shilling kitty has been set aside to finance innovative ideas geared towards improving Africa’s health and development outcomes.

Nairobi-based think tank, Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Africa (AESA), has partnered with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to commit Sh713 million ($7 million) to support and fast-track scientific breakthroughs that promote development in the region.

Through this initiative, AESA will provide up to Sh10.2 million ($100,000) seed grants to selected scientists working on resolving Africa’s maternal and child health challenges.

The funding will also target individuals looking at creative approaches for engaging the public and urging African leaders to allocate more funds towards research and development (R&D).

In 2007, the African Union Heads of State summit implored governments to allocate at least 1 per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP) to R&D initiatives.

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Currently, however, very few countries have met this target.

“Solutions for Africa’s challenges do exist within the continent. As an African grant making body, we are laser focused on tapping the best minds on the continent to develop innovative local solutions to our health and development challenges,” said AESA director Dr Tom Kariuki in a statement Sunday.

After the initial seed grant of Sh10.2 million ($100,000), researchers that develop innovations with a high potential of being scaled-up will be eligible to apply for additional funding of up to Sh100 million ($1 million) to enable them increase the reach and utility of their projects.

Suitable candidates

Innovators and researchers interested in obtaining can submit their proposals and apply for grants on AESA's website.

Eligible candidates include innovators residing in Africa with any level of research experience from universities, colleges, government laboratories, research institutions and non-profit organisations.

Dr Kariuki stated that the organisation’s interest in maternal and child health issues was due to high rates of mothers and children dying from diseases such as HIV, malaria in pregnancy, blood infections, sexually transmitted diseases and premature births.

“We are seeking bold new ideas with potential for enormous impact in Africa, so that mothers and children not only survive, but thrive,” he added.

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