Making science work for development

Future opportunities in engineering research for international development

UNOPS, Russell Watkins_DFID
17 June 2014
On 29 May, UKCDS partnered with the Royal Academy of Engineering to host a roundtable for UK funders and research leaders to discuss the future opportunities in engineering research for international development. The meeting, chaired by Professor John Perkins FREng, brought together senior research leaders from a small number of UK universities with EPSRC and DFID to discuss the current opportunities, and barriers to further activity.
The meeting was set up partly to discuss the recent mapping of the engineering for development research base carried out by UKCDS and DFID, which was used as one document underpinning the recent DFID Research Advisory Group discussion on infrastructure.
The attendees agreed that it is a very positive time for engineering research for development, with a significant uplift in funding from DFID and programmes such as the Newton Fund coming online. The group noted that there are opportunities for engineering research to have a significant impact on the lives of those living in low and middle income countries, but that there still exist barriers for work, with multiple soft factors accumulating to become a discentive system for engineering for development research.
The group agreed that focusing on early career researchers is key to supporting future UK capacity for engineering research and that defining outcome focused research challenges with significant practical impact was crucial to achieving this. 
The below report contains a short summary of the roundtable discussions with more details on the opportunities, challenges and next steps. It also includes the presentations shown at the event. 
  • Energy and engineering

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