British Council

Professor Duong Quang Trung is a celebrated success story and shining example of the British Council’s capacity-building agenda focused on early career researchers. With resources from the Newton Fund, he is generating opportunities for learning, research and networking between Vietnamese scientists, the UK and other countries.

Hailing from the ancient town of Hoi An in Central Vietnam, Professor Duong Quang Trung now works at Queen’s Belfast University (one of the top 24 universities in the UK) as a third-ranked professor on a four-rank scale (Reader). His main job involves research in the telecommunications field and teaching students. As a brilliant young scientist who has won numerous awards and scientific research funding (£3 million over the past four years), Prof Trung believes British Council research support through the delivery of Newton Fund provided a critical foundation to build on his doctorate for further success.

In 2014, the British Council was the first sponsor that brought the young professor (aged 35) back to Vietnam to attend the “UK–Vietnam Researcher Links” workshop. The workshop was his stepping stone to build and connect research teams in Vietnam. The next year, Prof Trung and his team successfully enlisted sponsorship from the UK Government’s Newton Fund delivered by the British Council. 

“In April 2014, I was sponsored by the British Council to attend a workshop connecting early career researchers in Vietnam and the UK. That led me to work with colleagues from Duy Tan University on a project called “Laying the groundwork for sustainable development: Connected society for future cities” and managed to pool a £220,000 fund for the study. This project went on to win the Newton Prize 2017. I was then awarded more than a dozen other projects from the British Government, but my first access to Newton Fund through the project delivered by British Council – made the difference in my career with science. It allowed me to build a foundation and especially the confidence to drive projects forward to success,” he said.

The research project that won the Newton Prize 2017, along with associate, Dr Vo Nguyen Son from Duy Tan University, was deemed extremely valuable for Vietnam and the world. Essentially, it uses information and telecoms technology to maintain communications in challenging conditions, such as during natural disasters and within environmental pollution, when other network systems have been destroyed or congested. This system also helps to provide early warnings for natural disasters and contamination levels as well as connects with medical relief in the field. The project has conducted a large number of trainings, networking and exchange activities between research communities in Vietnam, the UK and globally. 

Another meaningful scientific link financed by the Newton Fund – the annual International Summer School founded by Prof Trung– helps Vietnamese students to get involved, improve their understanding and become familiar with ongoing academic activities in the advanced global educational systems, with involvement from scientists from world-leading universities. Prof Trung said that after three rounds of activities, 39 out of 66 summer camp participants have been awarded full Master’s or PhD scholarships in the UK as well as the US, France, Germany, Canada, Italy, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. 

The partnership between Prof Trung and the British Council has been fruitful, with four projects under the auspices of the Newton Fund. “The British Council has the passion and always does everything it can to support science. The projects sponsored and delivered by the British Council are producing positive results and providing the vital interface for Vietnamese scientists to reach out to the advanced research sector in the UK,” he said.

"My first access to Newton Fund through the project delivered by British Council made the difference in my career with science. 
It allowed me to build a foundation and especially the confidence to drive projects forward to success."

About the Newton Fund

The Newton Fund builds research and innovation partnerships with 17 active partner countries to support their economic development and social welfare, and to develop their research and innovation capacity for long-term sustainable growth. It has a total UK Government investment of £735 million up until 2021, with matched resources from the partner countries.

The Newton Fund is managed by the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and delivered through seven UK delivery partners, which includes UK Research and Innovation (comprising the seven research councils and Innovate UK), the UK Academies, the British Council and the Met Office.

The Newton Prize is an annual £1 million fund awarded for the best research or innovation that promotes the economic development and social welfare of developing countries. More than 150 Newton funded projects, fellowships or other awards applied for the Newton Prize 2017 from the eligible countries – India, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. There are 25 shortlisted applications in total and five Prizes of up to £200,000 will be awarded to each winner to be used to advance or develop existing Newton funded work.

The Newton Prize aims to incentivise researchers to participate in the Newton Fund as partners with the UK, and to work on the most important challenges facing Newton countries. The concept for the Newton Prize has been developed to demonstrate how UK partnerships with Newton countries are solving global challenges.

For further information visit the Newton Fund website (www.newtonfund.ac.uk) and follow via Twitter: @NewtonFund.