- About SIG
- IAS Homepage
The MSI had its debut at a major convocation in Chile in 1998. By early 2000, 3 MSI Institutes and 5 smaller MSI Nuclei, chosen competitively, were up and running in Chile. Embedded outside the traditional science establishment, the MSI survived a change in national government and received a new influx of loan and government funds.
The program has grown incrementally since its establishment. As of 2014, the Chilean MSI supports 5 institutes and 16 nuclei in the natural sciences, as well as 9 social science nuclei, with an annual budget of US $21 million. Out of some 1800 active scientists in the MSI program, about two thirds are undergraduate and postgraduate students and post-docs.
The Chile MSI is governed by a Secretariat based in Santiago. (A November 2005 interview with the Executive Director of the Chile MSI is available here, and an article he wrote in 2007 for a World Bank Institute publication is available here). Videos about the Chilean MSI are here.
Additional information is available on the Chile MSI website, including synopses of scientific work underway at the MSI Institutes and Nuclei. World Bank project documents are available here, with a final evaluation of the program here.
The MSI in Mexico, active from 2001-2004, supported four competitively selected MSI Institutes. In May 2004, SIG and CONACYT co-sponsored a conference at the Universidad Autonóma de Nuevo León in Monterrey, Mexico entitled Science and Technology in Mexico: Bringing Innovation to the Marketplace. 5/12
The Brazil MSI, established in 2002 through the redirection of an existing World Bank education loan and active through 2008, supported competitively selected networks of centers of excellence in a variety of fields. Each of the more than 30 networks consisted of a host center and as many as 27 affiliated centers around the country in the same or complementary fields. MSI networks, chosen in competitions held in 2002 and 2005, are listed here. A World Bank evaluation of the Brazil MSI is available here.
In 2008, Brazil's National Council for the Development of Science and Technology (CNPq) and Ministry of Science and Technology announced that a program to support "National Institutes of Science and Technology" would supersede the MSI. The new program is viewed as an improved version of the MSI in that the institutes are national in character, and the program partners with a variety of agencies that support research: the Ministry of Education, CAPES, Ministry of Health, Petrobras, and BNDES. In November 2008, 101 projects were selected to receive grants totaling the equivalent of US $250 million. As of 2012, 122 projects are being supported; they are listed alphabetically here and by theme here. 5/12
The concept for a regional MSI in sub-Saharan Africa was developed by a group of African scientific and academic leaders who represent a variety of fields and nationalities, brought together by the Science Initiative Group (SIG) with the participation of TWAS, the African Academy of Sciences, and the World Bank. Over a series of four meetings in 2000-2002, proposals for three initiatives, each addressing an area of strategic importance for the region, were developed and then further refined through extensive consultation with local scientific communities and potential financing agencies. This process led to proposals for initiatives in biotechnology (Uganda, Cameroon, Botswana and Namibia); instrumentation and information and communications technology (ICT) (Tanzania); and mathematics (involving both Anglophone and Francophone sub-Saharan Africa).
Opportunities and obstacles that arose during implementation led to some major changes in the MSI concept for Africa. While the mathematics initiative (scroll down) was established along the lines originally envisaged, neither the biotechnology nor the ICT initiative achieved the comprehensive support needed for its realization. Instead, intensive efforts by the Ugandan government and scientific community and the World Bank regional staff led to a major, multi-disciplinary MSI in Uganda (scroll down). The 2000-2002 discussions later formed part of the basis and rationale for the Regional Initiative in Science and Education (RISE), established in 2008. 5/12
African Mathematics MSI (AMMSI)
AMMSI is a network of mathematics research and training, with emphases on graduate education and applied mathematics. Among its activities, AMMSI runs the Mentoring African Research in Mathematics (MARM) program. The network comprises six regional offices: Yaoundé, Cameroon (serving Central Africa); Nairobi, Kenya (Eastern Africa); Gaborone, Botswana (Southern Africa); Ibadan, Nigeria (Anglophone Western Africa); and Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso (Francophone Western Africa) – and, as of September 2013, Rabat, Morocco (North Africa). A Program Committee consisting of a representative from each region manages AMMSI. A description of AMMSI included in the proceedings of the Regional and Interregional Cooperation to Strengthen Basic Sciences in Developing Countries Conference (hosted by the International Science Programme (ISP), Addis Ababa, September 2009) can be accessed here; full conference proceedings are available here. More information about AMMSI is available on the AMMSI website. 9/13
The MSI in Uganda ran from 2006-2012. It was considered a central component of the Government's strategy to strengthen the country's scientific and technological capacity. The five-year (later extended one year, through December 2012), US$33.35 million program, co-financed by the World Bank and the Government of Uganda, resulted from several years' planning by the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST), Uganda's Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (MFPED), and the World Bank. The initiative had its origins in a series of meetings convened by SIG beginning in 2001, and SIG remained involved through representation on the Uganda MSI Technical Committee. World Bank documents on the Uganda MSI are available here. A September 2011 SciDev editorial decrying the possible end of the MSI is available here. Click here for a World Bank memo on a June 2011 mission to review the MSI in Uganda. Blog posts from a July 2010 visit to MSI researchers and administrators in Uganda can be accessed via the links below. 3/13
SIG blog posts about the Uganda MSI include:
Uganda Industrial Research Institute
Fighting to Save a Huge Fish
Crop Science: A Public-Private Partnership Produces a 'Milk Booster' for Cows
Crop Science: A New Strategy in the Fight Against Banana Diseases
Crop Science: Support for Genetic Studies of Beans and Cassava
Reaching Out to the Community with Wireless Internet
Continuing the Search for a Malaria Vaccine
Over several years, SIG board members met with representatives of the Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh, the World Bank and the Bangladeshi scientific community. These consultations led indirectly to a World-Bank-financed "Higher Education Quality Enhancement Project." According to a Bank document, "the key project development objective is to improve the quality and relevance of the teaching and research environment in higher education institutions through encouraging both innovation and accountability within universities and by enhancing the technical and institutional capacity of the higher education sector." Project information is available here. 5/12
SIG, the Vietnam Education Foundation and the Vietnamese Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) worked together over several years in the mid-2000's to develop an MSI in Vietnam. Modeled loosely on the MSI's in Chile and Brazil but adapted to Vietnam's unique circumstances, the MSI in Vietnam would include a competition for centers of excellence serving as magnets to attract home Vietnamese students who have studied abroad and as training grounds for new generations of Vietnamese scientists. The MSI in Vietnam would complement programs of the Vietnam Education Foundation, particularly its Graduate Fellowship Program.
After a hiatus, discussions began anew in late 2009, this time with the participation of additional partners including Vietnam's new National Foundation for Science and Technology Development (NAFOSTED), established in 2009 as a semi-autonomous science funding agency within MOST. 5/12