Ambassador for the Year of Science
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The Volkswagen Foundation
For 50 years now, the Volkswagen Foundation has been promoting science and technology in research and education. It has funded almost 30,000 projects with a total of EUR 3.6 billion. The funding initiatives are spread across a broad range of target countries: besides Germany, other industrial countries, known as the BRICS nations, along with developing and emerging economies.
Due to underfinanced education and university systems as well as a shortage of jobs, in Africa talented young researchers and academics often leave their home countries at the latest after they complete their undergraduate degree, in order to pursue their careers in the northern industrial nations. This "brain drain" makes sustainable development in African countries more difficult. This is the starting point of the Volkswagen Foundation: since 2003, its initiative "Knowledge for Tomorrow – Cooperative Research Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa" has supported, in particular, young researchers after they have completed their doctorates in their career development in the academic systems of their home countries, via a three-level funding model. The focus here is on establishing and reinforcing networks inside Africa. As a result, there are very few bilateral projects with South Africa. Projects are always carried out with several African countries. For example, a "Summer School on Research Methods" was held in South Africa in 2011. It was jointly prepared and carried out by the University of Marburg and the University of Stellenbosch.
As part of the European Foundation Initiative for Neglected Tropical Diseases of the five European foundations Mérieux Foundation, Nuffield Foundation, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Cariplo Foundation and Volkswagen Foundation, a Senior Fellowship was awarded to Dr. Trudi O’Neill from North West University, Potchefstroom, on "Generating regional rotavirus vaccine strains through reverse genetics to alleviate viral diarrhoea in Africa".