British Ambassador to Israel David Quarrey.
(photo credit: MICHAL ROCHE – BEN AMI)
In one of his first initiatives as British ambassador to Israel, David Quarrey inaugurated on Wednesday three collaborative science programs, primarily focusing on water research.
Among the new plans is a £200,000 British Council Trilateral Water Scheme to promote joint water research among UK, Israeli, and other Middle Eastern scholars, according to the British Embassy. Another new opportunity is the UK-Israel Researcher Links Fellowships in water science, while the third is the UK-Israel Science and Innovation Lectureship Grants in water science and agriscience, among other fields.
Quarrey launched the programs just nine days after assuming his post, conducting visits to both Tel Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute the same day.
“I’m delighted that UK scientists will now be able to deepen their cooperation in water research with Israeli counterparts,” Quarrey said.
“The work of Israeli research institutions like Tel Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute, both of which I visited today, continues to improve the lives of those in water-poor countries. The UK, with its cutting-edge research facilities and vibrant scientific community, is determined to contribute to this effort with the cluster of new research initiatives we announced today.”
The first program, officially called the New British Fund to Support Innovative Water Research in the Middle East and North Africa, will enable scientists from Britain, Israel, and the region to work together to tackle water challenges, the embassy explained. The UK’s Department for Business and innovation and Skills (BIS) has awarded the initial £200,000 funding to the British Council to develop a pilot research program for the project, the embassy said.
Through the project, researchers can apply for trilateral bids for 10- to-12- month research initiatives in the water sector. The aim of the program, according to the embassy, is to “provide opportunities for world-class researchers in water science, technology, and policy from the UK and the Middle East to work together.”
In the second program – the British Council’s UK-Israel Researcher Links Fellowships – early career water sciences researchers in the UK and Israel will be able to form international partnerships through fully funded fellowships, the embassy said. While the larger Researcher Links program has been operating since 2013, this will be the first time that the scheme is brought to Israel.
The final program, the 2015 UK-Israel Science and Innovation Lectureship Grants, will provide already established researchers in the UK and Israel to visit their colleagues, to catalyze partnerships and strengthen research collaborations, the embassy said.
Grants are potentially available to researchers working in the fields of water science, agriscience, nanoscience, neuroscience, and regenerative medicine, the embassy added.
Alan Gemmell, the Israel director for the British Council, stressed the importance of continued water research, citing UN data that some 1 billion people around the world still do not have access to clean water.
“From the world’s biggest economy to its most populous countries, more action is needed to improve access to water,” Gemmell said. “Our new fund will bring researchers from different countries and disciplines together – across natural and social sciences as well the UK and the Middle East – to tackle one of our most urgent problems and identify new approaches for some of the world’s most water-poor societies.”