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Kenya issues shortlist for infrastructure grants

Kenya’s recently established National Research Fund has published a shortlist of 24 projects that stand a chance of winning one of the body’s inaugural research infrastructure grants.

The NRF issued a call for proposals for its ‘infrastructural support for research and training institutions’ grants in October 2016, part of a slew of opportunities offered by the once-dormant body.

Successful proposals stand to win between 3 million and 100m Kenyan shillings (US$30,000 to $1m), according to the initial call. Shortlisted proposals include a stem cell research facility at the Kenya Medical Research Institute, a nuclear resonance centre at the University of Nairobi, and a level-2 biosafety lab at the National Biosafety Authority.

There was great interest in the funding, with the larger universities putting in up to 30 applications apiece, Jemimah Onsare, acting chief executive of NRF, told Research Africa. To make the selection process easier she said NRF had told institutions to select five priority applications.

“It was NRF’s maiden call and [we] had not foreseen the outcome,” she said. “However, due to the enormous response it was decided by the board of trustees that the institutions with more than five applications be requested to scale down to five applications of priority.”

Several of Kenya’s lesser-known universities—in terms of their research performance—have projects on the shortlist. These include a soil analysis lab at Rongo University and a fish genetics laboratory at the University of Eldoret. The Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute wishes to create the first marine hatchery in Kenya. And Bukura Agricultural College, a middle-level staff training college, is vying for a biotech lab for research, training and rapid multiplication of planting materials.

No institution has more than one project in the shortlist. According to Onsare, the regional distribution of shortlisted applications was a consideration when making selections. The NRF will carry out one-on-one interviews with the shortlisted projects next week before the final selection is made.  

Link to the full shortlist on the right of this article.