UK National Commission delivers global science prize

A UK-Thailand project solving rare genetic diseases in children, a UK-Malaysian project generating sustainable electricity from effluent waste processing, and a UK-Vietnam project developing a communications system that can work even when natural disasters strike, are among the six winners of the inaugural Newton Prize in November 2017.

The Newton Prize is the new annual prize from the Newton Fund, a UK flagship innovation fund which develops science and innovation partnerships that promote the economic development and welfare of collaborating countries. The UK National Commission for UNESCO administered the Prize in 2017 on behalf of the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Dr Beth Taylor, Chair of the UK National Commission for UNESCO, said:

“Congratulations to all six winners this year. I found it inspirational to see the quality of the science being done, the range of the challenges being tackled, and the depth of the partnerships being established between researchers in the UK and those in the countries covered by this year’s awards. I see these partnerships as one of the critical achievements of the Newton Fund, and one that is at the heart of UNESCO’s mission – establishing inter-cultural dialogue and international collaboration through scientific innovation.”

“I am pleased and proud that the UK National Commission for UNESCO was able to support BEIS in turning the great concept of the Newton Prize into a flagship international success story from a standing start in January this year. We look forward to working with BEIS in the coming year on the next round of the Newton Prize, which will focus on Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico in 2018.” 

Rt Hon Jo Johnson, UK Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, said:

“These Newton Prize winners not only embody international collaboration on crucial issues but also illustrate our ambition to work with our global partners on a wide variety of mutually-beneficial research.

“The Newton Prize demonstrates how the UK is working with partners to address important international issues. This complements the work we are undertaking as part of our upcoming Industrial Strategy to support our world-class research and innovation sector, helping them work collaboratively to address the great challenges of our time.”

The Newton Prize was announced by Minister Johnson on 30 June 2016.  The Minister presented the prizes alongside Sir Venki Ramakrishnan, Chair of the Newton Prize Committee, President of The Royal Society and a Nobel Prize Winner, and physicist and broadcaster Jim Al Khalili OBE at an event on 4 December 2017, in London ( The Prize winners’ amazing stories, and those of the other shortlisted applicants, have been published in a booklet now available online (

The Minister and the President of the Royal Society thanked UKNC and its team at the event.

Sir Venki Ramakrishnan said:

“We would like to express special thanks to the UK National Commission for UNESCO, in particular, Dr Liz Bell and Kia Da Silva Cunha, for all their hard work in delivering the 2017 Newton Prize”

The 2017 Prize presentation also included the formal announcement of the Newton Prize Countries for 2018: Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico. The Newton Prize Team and other colleagues at the UKNC are looking forward to working with the Newton Fund and BEIS to help deliver the Prize in 2018.