About new GloPID-R member Rwanda National Council for Science and Technology (NCST)
The Rwanda National Council for Science and Technology (NCST) supports the Government of Rwanda’s vision to address national priorities that uplift the social and economic wellbeing of citizens. The goal is to implement science, technology and innovative (STI) research and development (R&D) programs and to solidify partnerships for Rwanda to become a globally competitive knowledge-based economy. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, NCST has achieved remarkable policy and operationalization outputs through strategic partnerships.
Development of STI Policy
In June 2020, the STI Policy was approved through collaboration with relevant stakeholders. The policy focuses on effective STI governance, increased R&D and innovation financing, human capital and knowledge network development, and enhanced collaborations. The policy defines national priority areas: sustainable energy, food security and modern agriculture, life and health sciences, local production and value addition, digital services products and lifestyle, and resilient environment and natural resources.
National Research and Innovation Fund (NRIF) mobilized for STI funding and support
Summary of NCST Research & Innovation Grants
Since the launch of NRIF in June 2018, 91 research projects have received funding of over 4 billion Rwanda Francs (RWF) (over US $4M). The categories and funded projects are:
Special Collaboration Research Grants on COVID-19 Pandemic: 17 research projects are being supported by host institutions to a value of RWF 991,690,185 (US $987,150):
- Improving diagnostic and real-time testing: 4 grants
- Improving societal resilience to mitigate the impact of COVID-19: 6 projects
- Strategic innovations for protective equipment: 2 projects to demonstrate innovative equipment for prevention and management of COVID-19
- Predicting and monitoring the impact of COVID-19 pandemic: 5 projects supported to generate models for predicting and monitoring the pandemic.
Excellence in research grants: 11 projects to develop research excellence and foster innovation and technology advancement.
Rwanda Innovation Challenges: support for 36 young scientists and entrepreneurs.
Academia-Industry Collaboration Grants: 19 projects to improve collaboration towards better industrial productivity (20% additional resources are provided by the private sector).
Strategic Sector research grants: 8 projects in areas of modern agriculture and sustainable energy.
Strategic partnerships and scientific programs
In July 2021, NCST became a member of GloPID-R to collaborate with global partners on epidemics and pandemics. It is also a member of the Science Granting Councils Initiative (SGCI), which develops the capacity of 15 science granting councils in Sub-Saharan Africa.
In collaboration with the International Development Research Center (IDRC), NCST is co-funding grants on modern agriculture and renewable energy (CAD $510,900) and partnering with East Africa Councils to support cross-border studies on 2 projects (US $100,000 each). The Grand Challenges Rwanda Chapter, now underway, will fund “Big Ideas, Bold Minds” for technology development in specific priority areas.
A community outreach program called “Bikora Bite” translated as “how STI applications operate” increases public awareness on radio and television for STI and new emerging technologies. A quarterly newsletter, Fostering dissemination of innovative R&D Opportunities from National Development, was launched in September 2021. In addition, annual scientific workshops are being implemented such as the 23-24 November 2021 conference entitled, Leveraging the Potential of Science and Technology to mitigate COVID-19 pandemic.
Gender equality in science is implemented through support to women scientists in the form of annual awards to the best women scientists. These are: the Women’s Leadership Award; Research Award and the Rising Star Award.
Finally, in June 2020, NCST established a Research Coordination Committee comprising 11 members from national research institutions for better coordination of R&D programs. This committee provides the opportunity for mutual planning, implementation and monitoring and evaluation of R&D programs