2018 Newton Prize shortlist announced

Host stands on stage at Newton Prize

The shortlist for the prestigious £1 million 2018 Newton Prize has been published today, 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:


Indigenous knowledge sharing networks to promote the wellbeing of Guarani and the restoration of the Atlantic Forest. 
Project partners: Marc Brightman, Lecturer at the Centre for the Anthropology of Sustainability - CAOS at University College London and Daniel Calazans Pierri, General Coordination Member for the Centro de Trabalho Indigenista – CTI.

Historic collections as a means of valorising indigenous knowledge.
Project partners: William Milliken, Research Leader, Diversity and Livelihoods, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Viviane Stern da Fonseca Kruel, Research Associate at the Botanical Garden of Rio de Janeiro Institute of Research – JBRJ.

Role of NK and senescent T cells in the Pathogenesis of human cutaneous leishmaniasis.

Project partners: Professor Arne Akbar, University College London and Daniel Gomes, Professor at the Federal University of Espírito Santo.

Combining Computational Approaches, Phenotypic Assays & Structure-Based Drug Design For Progressing New Antischistosomal Lead Compounds Towards Pre-Clinical Studies.

Project partners: Associate Professor Nicholas Furnham, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Floriano Silva-Jr, Full Researcher, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation.

Multi-purpose acoustofluidic devices for new Neglected Tropical Diseases assays
Project partners: Professor Bruce Drinkwater, University of Bristol and Glauber Silva, Associate Professor, Physical Acoustics Group, Federal University of Alagoas.

Identifying novel intervention strategies to overcome early embryo exposure to environmental stresses: Can we grow robust cattle to sustainably enhance food production?
Project partners: Niamh Forde, University Academic Fellow, University of Leeds and Juliano Coelho da Silveira, Universidade de São Paulo.


Political violence and human rights violations accountability: circumstances, uses and effects of forced disappearance registration. Lessons from a comparative perspective in the Americas.
Project partners: Professor Vikki Bell, Goldsmiths University of London and Oriana Bernasconi, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Alberto Hurtado University.

Low cost genomic selection for improving disease resistance in Brazilian tilapia aquaculture.
Project partners:  Ross Houston, Personal Chair of Aquaculture Genetics, The Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh and Jose Yanez, Associate Professor, University of Chile.

Resilient planning of low-carbon power systems.
Project partners: Professor Pierluigi Mancarella, University of Manchester and Rodrigo Moreno, Assistant Professor, University of Chile.

Technology Development and Implementation for Microgrid Interconnection Systems.

Project partners: Jon Clare, Head of the Power Electronics, Machines and Control Research Group, University of Nottingham and Marco Rivera, Head of Energy Conversions and Power Electrics Laboratory, University of Talca.


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.


Phycoproducts: Potential Use of Phycocyanin, Phycoerythrin and Exopolisaccharydes in the Food Industry.
Project partners: Dr Robert Lovitt, Director, Membranology ltd. and Eugenia Olgiun, Professor and Head of Department, Inecol.

Laboratory bench hydrogen compression using 3D printing technology.
Project partners: Associate Professor Carlos Ponce de Leon, University of Southampton and Abraham Chávez Ramírez, Researcher, Center of Research and Technologic Development in Electrochemistry (CITETEQ), Dr. David Hodgson, PV3 Technologies and Hermilo Taméz Salazar, Industrias Cloro Alcali, SA de CV., Mexico.

Childhood Obesity - a Mexican solution to a Mexican problem.
Project partners: Paul Taylor, Reader, King's College London and Elena Zambrano, Professor of Reproductive Biology at Institute of Health Sciences and Nutrition.

Surgical planner and simulation based on virtual reality.
Project lead: Fabio Antonio Gonzalez Sanchez, Chief Executive, Verum VR Medical.

Improving bean water use efficiency and bean nitrogen fixation under drought using non-transgenic Mesoamerican germplasm.
Project lead: Caspar Chater, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Global Fellow, IBT UNAM. University of Sheffield.

Building social, economic, and environmental sustainability in arsenic impacted communities through soil remediation using safe and biodegradable cleaning agents.

Project partners: Professor Bhaskar Sen Gupta and Nadia Martinez-Villegas, Associate Professor of Applied Geosciences, Potosino Institute for Scientific and Technological Research AC (IPICYT).


Notes to Editors:

  1. The Newton Prize was launched in 2016 and is part of the broader Newton Fund. The concept for the Newton Prize was developed to demonstrate how UK partnerships with Newton Partner countries are solving global challenges. Each year it will be awarded for the best research or innovation that promotes the economic development and social welfare of Newton partner countries, DAC List Countries or addresses global challenges, aligning with and strengthening the Newton Fund’s overall objectives.
  2. The Newton Fund builds research and innovation partnerships with 17 active partner countries to support their economic development and social welfare, and to develop their research and innovation capacity for long-term sustainable growth. It has a total UK Government investment of £735 million up until 2021, with matched resources from the partner countries.The Newton Fund is managed by the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and delivered through seven UK delivery partners, UK Research and Innovation (which comprises seven Research Councils and Innovate UK), the UK Academies, the British Council and the Met Office.For further information visit the Newton Fund website (www.newton-gcrf.org) and follow via Twitter: @NewtonFund
  3. Chile has recently graduated from the DAC list of developing countries and is no longer eligible for ODA funding. Chile is included in the 2018 Newton Prize because it has been a Newton Fund country since the fund was established in 2014 and has supported excellent research collaborations that have delivered impact in Chile and more broadly. Prize money won by a Newton-Picarte project will be spent in line with ODA guidance - addressing broader regional and global development challenges, which build on existing Chilean and UK strengths and relationships. Such joint work to address global challenges is in line with our changing science and innovation relationship with Chile.

Find out more:

Read about the 2017 Newton Prize winners: India, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam

Read our latest blogs from Newton Prize winning projects

Follow the Newton Fund on Twitter

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Mark Gardner

Senior Communications Manager

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