Not good, but GREAT news.
Two years ago, Google set out to find big ideas that promise to change the world. After 150,000 submissions from around the world, The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences in Cape Town has been named one of five that will be sharing the US$10 million prize for its Next Einstein Initiative (NEI).
The Next Einstein Initiative took off in 2008 when Perimeter Institute Director Dr. Neil Turok, founder of AIMS in South Africa, announced his vision “to unlock and nurture scientific talent across Africa,” by building a network of 15 AIMS centres spanning the continent.
Google’s award to AIMS-NEI will support the creation of three new AIMS centers by 2013, planned in Sénégal, Ghana and Ethiopia. The investment builds upon Google’s earlier contribution of US$1 million for scholarships at AIMS, which helped spur support from other private and public groups, including funding of Cdn$20m announced by the Government of Canada this past July.
Dr. Turok said, “We are deeply honoured to receive this support from Google’s Project 10100. The goal of AIMS and of the Next Einstein Initiative is simple: to enable Africa’s brightest students to gain the high-level scientific and technical skills they need to propel Africa’s future economic, educational and technological self-sufficiency. In the process of training many gifted students, we expect to uncover people of rare creative talent, capable of scientific and technical breakthroughs which will serve all of humanity.”
The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) is a globally recognized centre of excellence for postgraduate education and research based in Cape Town, South Africa. Its mission is to rapidly and cost-effectively expand Africa’s scientific and technological capacity by providing advanced training to exceptional African graduates.
Since its establishment in 2003, 305 students, 30% of them women, from 31 African countries have graduated from the AIMS centre in South Africa. Their track record is outstanding, with over 95% continuing to Masters and PhD degrees and the vast majority remaining in Africa to apply their skills in African universities, research centres, government, NGOs and industry. The South African government has supported AIMS from its inception and currently provides funding of around US$1.3 million per annum in support of its teaching and research programmes.
The Next Einstein Initiative (NEI) is a strategic plan to build on the success of the first AIMS centre and create a coordinated pan-African network of 15 AIMS centres by 2020, producing 750 well-qualified graduates per annum. The venture is rapidly gaining momentum through partnerships and support involving governments, academia, and personal and corporate philanthropy.
AIMS-NEI is designed to harness Africa’s most abundant natural resource: the talent and drive of the continent’s brightest young minds. The network of AIMS centres will provide the environment for exceptional talents to emerge and flourish, feeding a stream of thousands of skilled alumni into government, industry, research and academia. AIMS graduates will form a highly skilled community, working towards the economic, political and educational self-sufficiency of Africa.
African leaders have stepped forward to express strong support for AIMS-NEI. In May 2010, President Abdoulaye Wade designated the creation of an AIMS centre in Senegal as a top national priority, committing US$1.3 million towards construction of AIMS-Senegal and awarding Dr. Turok “le médaille de l’Ordre National du Lion”, Sénégal’s highest state honour. The African Union and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) have also endorsed the AIMS-NEI plan.
The Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (PI) in Waterloo, Ontario, is well-known for its scientific research, training and educational outreach activities. PI has adopted AIMS-NEI as a centerpiece of its Global Outreach effort which helps promote and share expertise with emerging centres of excellence in physics and maths worldwide. PI is pleased to serve as the coordinating partner for AIMS-NEI in North America.