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Pi & Canada Partner on Growing Science & Technology Centers in Africa

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Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper: "If there is . . . a universal constant in human affairs, it is that the expansion of knowledge and technology has continuously made life better for more people."

Credit: Eric Feferberg, AFP / Getty Images

During a special visit to Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (PI) tied to the center's Global Outreach activities, the Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper announced new federal funding of $20 CDN million to speed the growth of science and technology capacity in Africa by developing the talent of its brightest young minds.

This high impact investment leverages Perimeter Institute's expertise to build upon the success of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in Cape Town, South Africa. Canada's lead investment will help support the establishment of a network of five AIMS centers across Africa by 2015. Year over year, the centers will graduate African scientists with the skills needed to tackle development challenges and seize opportunities for innovation and growth. In the longer term, The AIMS Next Einstein Initiative seeks to create a network of 15 AIMS centers by 2020, graduating 750 scientists and technologists per annum.

The Perimeter Institute's new Global Outreach program aims to promote emerging centers of excellence in math and science internationally, especially in the developing world. PI does not fund other organizations, but assists them by sharing best practices in developing, establishing and operating centers of excellence. In doing so, PI is pleased to work with the Canadian government and its agencies to ensure that Canada is best able to leverage its expertise as a knowledge nation, in the pursuit of its international development goals.

High Impact, Lasting Value

In a special announcement involving Stephen Hawking, PI Distinguished Research Chair as well as patron of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, the Prime Minister of Canada announced the new federal funding as a central element of a partnership between Universities, the private sector and African governments focused on establishing the AIMS network, including new centers in Ethiopia, Ghana, and Senegal. Prime Minister Harper commended AIMS' revolutionary approach and said, "History shows that our world becomes safer, healthier and more stable through advances made in science and technology. Humanity's ascent from ignorance and barbarism to enlightenment and equality has been a fitful and uneven process. If there is, however, a universal constant in human affairs, it is that the expansion of knowledge and technology has continuously made life better for more people. That's why our government is supporting scientific and technological research, as well as development at home and abroad."

Professor Hawking visited South Africa in May 2008 to help announce the Next Einstein Initiative that would see the growth of AIMS into a pan-African network of centers. Upon meeting Prime Minister Harper and learning of this new, federal support, Prof. Hawking said, "I was lucky to visit AIMS in South Africa, in 2008, to enjoy the remarkable atmosphere, filled with the students' enthusiasm for math, science and the future of Africa. Science is a powerful unifier of people from all countries and cultures. I believe that connecting Africans to each other and to the world through science is one of the best investments one can make in Africa's future."

In commenting on these announcements, Mike Lazaridis, Perimeter Institute's founder and Board Chair said, "I am very gratified that Perimeter Institute is not only advancing scientific research, training and outreach here in Canada, but is now viewed as a model of excellence throughout the world. We will do all we can to share our expertise with other centers and we welcome all partners who believe in our vision to harness the process and power of science for peace, progress and prosperity."


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