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Nottingham and Indonesia unite in battling COVID-19

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Challenges facing Indonesian researchers

COVID-19 is a global challenge which requires global solutions. In the first event of its kind, UK and Indonesian policy makers, scientists, and funding agencies have discussed the roadmap to tackling COVID-19 with the aid of effective multi-disciplinary collaborations.

During a webinar and discussion, organised by the University of Nottingham's Asia Business Centre and the Indonesian Ministry of Research and Technology, and supported by the Indonesian Embassy in London, scientists from the University of Nottingham and some of Indonesia’s leading universities presented their COVID-19 research portfolios.

This was followed by a discussion with Professor Ali Ghufron Mukti, the Head of the COVID-19 Research and Innovation Consortium for KEMENRISTEK/BRIN, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Newton Fund Manager and British Council. The online meeting was also attended by the Indonesian Young Academy of Sciences (ALMI).

In his keynote speech, Professor Ali Ghufron Mukti highlighted the challenges facing researchers and academics in Indonesia in battling COVID-19, including a lack of human resource capability to produce comprehensive, quality research into COVID-19, and outlined recent measures taken by the Indonesian government to overcome issues around organisation of research and innovation activities. This has included the enacting of a new law that enables more streamlined, de-bureaucratised approaches to be adopted to support domestic research and global collaborations, such as the collaboration with the Indonesian Ministry of Research Technology and Higher Education, through which the University of Nottingham now hosts eight PhD students.

Global Collaboration is Key

From the University of Nottingham, Professor Gisli Jenkins, Professor Mohammed Ilyas, Dr Ross Wilson and Dr Ana Valdes presented the breadth of Nottingham’s multidisciplinary research on COVID-19, before the webinar heard from Dr Yodi Mahendradhata, Dr Joko Sarwono, and Dr Wisnu Kusuma on the COVID-19 research portfolios of UGM, ITB, and IPB respectively. The Newton Fund strategic manager for the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Ms Triny Tresnawulan presented a collaborative funding opportunity, offering a further incentive for collaboration between UK and Indonesian scientists.

Mr Hartyo Harkomoyo, spokesperson for the Embassy of Indonesia for the UK and Ireland, said, “The Indonesian Embassy fully supports joint efforts by Indonesian and UK scientists in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.The efforts show concrete solidarity and contribution by scientists in facing the extraordinary disaster. The Indonesian embassy is persuaded that collaboration initiatives between UK and Indonesia will bear fruit."

Roles of Indonesian Diaspora scientists as catalysts for knowledge exchange

Prof Ghufron Mukti also stressed the role of Indonesian Diaspora scientists abroad and their contributions to the country’s research and innovation agenda. He said: “We provide support for research collaboration between researchers from diaspora-host universities such as the University of Nottingham and Indonesian scientists. RISTEKBRIN will provide up to Rp 2 Billion each year for three years to fund research collaborations related to COVID-19.”

Researchers from the University of Nottingham have been working closely with Indonesian authorities to support the management of COVID-19 in the country. The Nottingham-Indonesia Collaboration for Clinical Research and Training (NICCRAT) consortium, led by Professor Mohammed Ilyas, has been tasked with offering insight into the situation and to help formulate the national research, innovation and capacity-building stream, thus becoming an integral part of Indonesia’s COVID-19 management system.

Dr Bagus Muljadi, the director of the Indonesia Doctoral Training Partnership (IDTP) at the University of Nottingham, has been actively advising the Indonesian government to utilise its diaspora asset in order to boost quality research and innovation, and even before the COVID-19 outbreak had been urging the country to prioritise research in disaster management.

University of Nottingham leading UK-Indonesia research collaboration

Professor Robert Mokaya, the Pro-Vice Chancellor Global Engagement at the University of Nottingham said: “We at Nottingham have contributed significantly to the national effort in battling COVID-19 here in the UK. We are keen to enhance our collaboration with colleagues from Indonesia, especially in research that will offer solutions to the challenges of the current pandemic. We very much value our international partnerships as a means of addressing global challenges and bringing positive impact to humanity.

“I am particularly pleased with this timely initiative and look forward to more collaborations with Indonesian colleagues in the future.”

Dr Muljadi, added: “I am very happy as both an Indonesian and academic at the University of Nottingham to see such event take place. Indonesia is unique in that it has one of the largest biodiversity in the world - rich with indigenous knowledge and medicinal herbs that may provide the answer to such a global problem. In this webinar, best-of-the-best researchers in the UK and Indonesia have united to seek inspiration for collaborative research opportunities to help battle COVID-19 to try to help Indonesia find its own unique solution.”

Story credits

Rebekah King, Communications Officer for the Indonesia Doctoral Training Partnership, by email: enyrlk@nottingham.ac.uk

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Notes to editors:

The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. Ranked 103rd out of more than 1,000 institutions globally and 18th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings 2022, the University’s state-of-the-art facilities and inclusive and disability sport provision is reflected in its crowning as The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021 Sports University of the Year. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally. Alongside Nottingham Trent University, we lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, a pioneering collaboration which brings together the combined strength and civic missions of Nottingham’s two world-class universities and is working with local communities and partners to aid recovery and renewal following the COVID-19 pandemic.

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