Millions available for ‘promising’ early-career researchers

Early-career African researchers will benefit from the African Academy of Sciences’ (AAS) African Research Initiative for Scientific Excellence (ARISE) pilot programme, which has €25 million (US$30 million) available to support about 40 young scientists who are doing cutting-edge research at African institutions.

The African Academy of Sciences’ call is open to African researchers with two to seven years of post-PhD research experience, a scientific track record showing great promise, and an ‘excellent’ research proposal to do research at an African university or research institution.

The ARISE programme, launched in December last year, is aligned to the European Union (EU) and the African Union (AU) priorities of cooperation through the Pan African Programme.

It aims at building the capacity of at least 40 emerging African researchers across the continent. Those selected to participate will be awarded grants of up to €500,000 for a period of five years to start their independent research projects and put together teams.

The call comes as Africa trails the rest of the world in scientific research and development spending, which is significantly less than the global average of 1.7% and the AU’s target of 1%. Consequently, Africa has fewer than 100 researchers per million people, which is at least 10 times less than the global average.

Professor Catherine Ngila, the acting executive director of the AAS, said in a communication by the academy that “this strategic partnership with the European Commission in the ARISE pilot programme is in line with the academy’s commitment to support the development of early-career scientists into vibrant research leaders who will contribute to transforming lives in Africa through science.

“We are fully committed to empowering the next generation of African scientists who will lead the science, technology, and innovation agenda and drive sustainable development on the continent,” she said.

Jutta Urpilainen, the European commissioner for international partnerships, said during the launch of the programme last year: “The potential of research excellence in Africa is significant and will be a key driver of development and growth. The ARISE pilot programme is a catalytic milestone for talented early-career scientists, aiming to strengthen Africa’s science and innovation base.

“It is also a major step for the EU-Africa academic and scientific cooperation to create a knowledge-based society and economy,” she added.

Submission of the preliminary applications (expressions of interest) for the ARISE pilot programme are open from 18 June to 30 July 2021, after which shortlisted applicants will be invited to submit full applications between September and October 2021.