The European Union, EU, has committed €440,000 as support for shortlisted research teams in the country under the Horizon Europe Project.
The support is facilitated by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund, in a bid to attract major international research grants to Nigerian scholars.
Head of TETFund’s team on Horizon Europe programme, Tope Toogun made this known in Abuja while briefing the Executive Secretary of TETFund, Sunny Echono, on the ongoing efforts to ensure Nigerian researchers participated in the global renowned research project.
Toogun explained that despite the rich human resources in the country, researchers had before now, taken the back seat in accessing grants for the EU Horizon project.
He noted that the situation was now changing for the better as a result of TETFund’s engagement with the EU and its decision to set up a team to address challenges preventing Nigerian researchers from participating in the project.
“It is embarrassing that Nigeria with all our intellectual capital, cannot participate in Horizon. The EU works in terms of seven-year framework. The current one is Horizon Europe, the previous framework was called Horizon 2020 and it ran from 2013 to 2020.
“Africa got about 350 projects, out of which South Africa alone got 146, Egypt and Morocco got between 50 and 70, Kenya got 46.
“Nigeria was not on the radar. It doesn’t mean we have not been participating, we have been on the sideline”, he said.
The team leader further identified the inability of Nigerian researchers to organise and prepare sufficiently for the Horizon project as one of the major impediments which prevented them from accessing the grants.
He said there was, therefore, a need by TETFund to set up the team in order to clear all the hurdles.
“We have shortlisted initial 60 research teams from about 400 of applications and the EU Commission has committed to the provision of a facility of 440,000 euro in technical assistance.
“This is to support the development of capacity in what we come up with in this programme that TETFund has initiated”, Toogun said.
The team leader disclosed that the research teams identified are going to do intensive physical training programmes for them in September and in that training, one of the key components will be on EU project management competency.
Toogun also said his team had developed the National Contact Point network for Nigerian researchers and uploaded it in the global portal, adding that it was a major requirement in accessing the grant.
He said the team have also deployed research management software and all the 400 research teams will be uploaded in this platform.
Also speaking, the TETFund’s Executive Secretary, Sonny Echono disclosed that the agency was fully committed to ensure Nigerian researchers were competitive in the International arena.
Echono said the Fund also targeted other global research bodies to attract grants for scholars in the country.
The Executive Secretary who said research and innovation remained a major way to address all the challenges in the country, said TETFund would leave no stone unturned to champion schemes that would deepen research in the country.
He added that “the move is to ensure that Nigerian researchers break this glass ceiling”.