ANDI receives massive response to Call for Centres of Excellence in Africa

By Jo Crawshaw

Nairobi, Kenya, 14.10.2010:
The African Network for Drugs and Diagnostics Innovation has received 116 applications from 26 African countries to be identified as a research Centre of Excellence (CoE). Preliminary data analysis indicates that there is strong capacity within the CoE network, with annual budgets ranging from US $ 1000 to US $ 150 million. Accreditation will run from January to March 2011, followed by ANDI board approval in May, and official announcements of accredited CoEs in June 2011. Centres will be grouped according to capacity and a strategy to work with and support each institution will be established.

During the 3rd ANDI conference running 11-13 October in Nairobi, Dr Solomon Nwaka, leader for innovation for product discovery in disease endemic countries at the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, based at the World Health Organization (WHO/TDR), praised the number and quality of responses received during the call for CoEs and invited representatives from several leading research and drugs and diagnostics development institutions across the continent, including Botswana, Republic of Congo, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Ghana, Senegal, Egypt, Mauritius and Sudan to present their work.

The meeting also covered ANDI's first call for letters of intent for R&D projects and the database being developed of researchers and institutes (called a Knowledge Base). All participants are being invited to provide input to ensure a fully owned and driven initiative by African stakeholders.

The Knowledge Base is a state-of-the-art, web-based and user friendly system that supports ANDI research activities and coordination by the Secretariat, as well as facilitating the sharing and exchange of information between African researchers. A Request For Proposals was launched in the first quarter of 2010 and 14 proposals were received. Two providers were short listed and an advanced evaluation led to the final selection. The project will be developed in 2011 and deployed in 2012.