Minister of Education Madalitso Kambauwa Wirima has described the launch of the Grand Challenges Malawi as the genesis of a journey the country has embarked on towards building its capacity to solve its own challenges and find solutions through its association with the Global Grand Challenge family.
Kambauwa Wirima added that Grand Challenges Malawi will not only help in improving the current state of investments in research and innovation, but also will help in building a new legacy for great discovery, great research and great innovations that will help Malawi’s transition into a middle income economy.
The minister made the sentiments at the launch of the initiative under the theme: “Unlocking strategic investments through collaborative research.”
The major objectives of Grand Challenges Malawi are to strengthen the national innovation ecosystem and build the capacity and capability of local researchers/innovators and research and development infrastructure, to leverage resources and expertise from public, private and development partners for effective and efficient execution of priority areas of research and innovation.
It will also optimise financing of the value chain of research and innovation from ideation, discovery, development, delivery and transition to scale, and launch a Request for Proposal to solicit applications from scientists in Malawi to collaborate with partners in Africa and globally to implement research that fosters innovation in solving the most critical development challenges.
Minister Kambauwa Wirima assured the participants to the launch that Malawi Government is determined to achieve the stated objectives.
“It means she will implement research that will help us to develop, test and prove new ideas and applications in ways that no one has ever known. We will come up with solutions that will mesmerise the whole world. This should be our new spirit towards research and innovation implementation,” she said.
The minister cited President Dr Lazarus MacCarthy Chakwera’s sentiments during a graduation at Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) on 12th August 2023 in Thyolo district in which the Head of State emphasized the need to establish a Climate Change Research Centre, which will be developing innovative solutions that promote sustainability and resilience to suit Malawi’s unique vulnerabilities to the effects of climate like disasters.
President Chakwera also suggested that Grand Challenge Malawi should collaborate with government agencies and non-governmental organizations to implement practical interventions that safeguard the environment and protect the most vulnerable communities.
The Education Minister said the Grand Challenge Malawi is one of the formidable solutions to the Challenge posed to different research and innovation institutions.
“It will manage the financing of different research projects such as Climate Change Research as this is among the “top priorities of Grand Challenge Malawi Strategy” which we are launching today. This launch means Malawi officially joins the Global Grand Challenge family which has a big mission to discover cutting edge/groundbreaking scientific, technological, and innovative solutions for societal advancements as we will be able to deal with a myriad of issues as stipulated in the strategy,” said Kambauwa Wirima.
NCST Acting Director Gift Kadzamira said the initiative will redefine the country’s landscape of scientific progress and transformation.
Kadzamira further stated that the initiative marks a pivotal juncture in Malawi’s journey towards unlocking its full potential through science, technology, and innovation.
“The Grand Challenges funding mechanism stands as a powerful catalyst, galvanizing the establishment of an enabling environment for innovative financing mechanisms that guarantee enduring support to science, technology and innovation (STI) in the African continent. It is therefore imperative to recognize Grand Challenges as an irresistible magnet, captivating engagement and nurturing the growth of science leaders,” she said.
According to Kadzamira, the GC global funding model has been replicated in Africa with the establishment of Grand Challenges Africa, an initiative of the Science for Africa Foundation (SFA Foundation), which awards seed and scale-up grants to the continent’s bold innovative ideas and is the overarching arm for country specific Grand Challenges that have been established in Botswana, Ethiopia, Senegal, South Africa, and Rwanda. Malawi becomes Africa’s sixth addition to the GC family.