Engaging in research with the global South
04.11.14 - On 30 October 2014 CODEV organized the 1st Seed Money Conference for the researchers of the Seed Money Program to present their projects.
The projects ranged from environmental remediation in Colombia and research on cholera in the Democratic Republic of Congo to crowdsourcing technologies in Mexico. The Seed Money Program allows researchers at EPFL to explore new research areas and geographic regions and to test a potential long-term partnership with the global South for one year. Many researchers are also motivated by the fact of being able to conduct applied research with a positive impact on sustainable development. Seed Money funded projects also provide an opportunity to build capacities in the global South. Prof. Bernier-Latmani for instance, was able to strengthen research capacity in Vietnam in terms of research methodology for analysis of arsenic contamination of water.
Obviously, there are also challenges. The absence of a larger funding body that would be the logical next step after the Seed Money Program is considered a major obstacle. Besides the Research for Development program of the SNSF (www.r4d.ch), funding opportunities are few. Nonetheless, at least a third of the Seed Money Projects grow into larger research projects or collaboration activities by securing significant further funding such as the project by Professor Rachidi on humanitarian demining in Colombia. As Dr. Daniel Gatica from LIDIAP put it: “scarcity makes you creative, despite limited funding, we were able to conduct a highly interesting project by finding creative solutions to each challenge”.
The following projects were presented at the Conference:
“Near real-time ultrahigh-resolution imaging from unmanned aerial vehicles for sustainable land use management and biodiversity conservation in semi-arid savanna under regional and global change” (Namibia); Timothée Produit, LASIG, ENAC
“Dissolved and colloidal phases responsible for arsenic mobilization in the Mekong Delta” (Vietnam); Prof. Rizlan Bernier-Lattmani, EML, ENAC
“Bio-design for the real world: An experiment in student-driven hands-on research and international collaboration” (India and Indonesia); Dr. Sachiko Hiroshue, LLCB, SV
“SenseCityVity: Mobile sensing and collective action for urban awareness in Mexico” (Mexico); MER Daniel Gática Pérez, LIDIAP,STI, and Dr. Salvador Ruíz Correa, IPICYT, Mexico
Diverse projects on oxidation processes for environmental remediation (Colombia, Argentina, Ivory Coast); Prof. César Pulgarin, Group Pulgarin, SB
“Impact of transportation and mobility on the urban development of Havana” (Cuba); Prof. François Golay, LASIG, ENAC, and Jessie Madrazo, Cuba
“Insight into cholera endemicity and epidemicity in the Democratic Republic of Congo using a molecular microbiology approach” (Democratic Republic of Congo); Prof. Melanie Blokesch, UPBLO, SV
“Target identification using high power transient electromagnetic sources” (Colombia); Prof. Farhad Rachidi, EMC, STI, and Dr. Félix Vega, UNC, Colombia