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Official launch of the IDRC and ISC project to explore AI’s impact on science systems in the Global South

Canada's International Development Research Centre visited the ISC to launch innovative new partnership.

Paris, France

The International Science Council is thrilled to announce the official launch of a groundbreaking project in partnership with the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada. Supported by a generous grant of over one million Canadian dollars, this initiative aims to explore the transformative impacts of artificial intelligence (AI) and other emergent technologies on science systems in the Global South.

Rapid technological advancements in AI are reshaping the practice and organization of science worldwide, with significant implications for global inequalities. This major grant from IDRC will enable the ISC’s Centre for Science Futures to explore these issues, enhancing the capacity of science, technology, and innovation (STI) actors in the Global South to navigate and leverage these changes for future growth and development.

Over the next three years, the project will gather first-hand knowledge on the transformations driven by AI and other technologies, and work closely with key science organizations in the Global South. The goal is to enhance their visibility, foster strong coalitions, and ensure they are well-positioned to benefit from technological advancements.

The project will encompass several key initiatives, including:

  1. AI For Science: The goal of this project is to understand how AI is transforming STI systems, particularly in the Global South, and how countries can take advantage of these changes. It will build on the first working paper “Preparing National Research Ecosystems for AI: Strategies and progress in 2024”, expanding to include more country case studies, as well as  consultations and workshops with experts and organizations worldwide, closing knowledge gaps on how different countries are  integrating AI into their research ecosystems.
  2. Emerging Technologies and Transformations: The project will convene expertsfrom around the world to reflect on the next wave of critical transformations for STI systems globally, and their impact in the Global South.
  3. Digital Journeys: This project aims to gather knowledge and experience about effective and impactful support for Global South STI actors in pursuing digital transformations through strategic and technical assistance to selected organizations. The ISC’s discussion paper “Organizations in the Digital Age” serves as a pilot to this project.
  4. STI-Industry Matchmaking: This initiative focuses on building reflexive communities of practice among Global South science players testing and using new technologies, through a series of matchmaking events connecting STI organizations with industry and technology developers.

Matthew Wallace, Senior Programme Specialist at IDRC, commented:

“The IDRC is thrilled to embark on this partnership with the ISC and its Centre for Science Futures. Our mission has always been to support research and innovation that addresses the critical challenges facing developing regions. This initiative is a testament to our commitment to ensuring that scientific institutions in the Global South can harness new technologies to build stronger, more resilient science systems.”

David Castle, Project Chair stated:

“This project represents a significant step forward in our efforts to support Global South STI organizations. By working directly with our Members and scientific organizations, we can co-create strategies and tools that are both impactful and sustainable. We look forward to the collaborations and insights that will emerge from this initiative.”

Vanessa McBride, ISC Science Director and Centre for Science Futures Acting Director, added:

“As we develop the ISC’s next strategic plan, understanding the impacts of AI and other new technologies is paramount. This generous contribution from IDRC allows us to delve into these critical questions and offer meaningful support to the global scientific community by bringing in underrepresented voices into the dialogue.”

The outgoing head of the Centre for Science Futures, Mathieu Denis, was keen for the ISC’s think tank to build a project with the IDRC that promoted AI for the improvement of science worldwide and to understand current and future roadmaps for the uptake of AI by national research ecosystems.

About Canada’s International Development Research Centre

Established in 1970, the IDRC‘s mandate is to initiate, encourage, support, and conduct research into the problems of the developing regions of the world and into the means for applying and adapting scientific, technical, and other knowledge to the economic and social advancement of those regions. The IDRC champions and funds research and innovation as part of Canada’s foreign affairs and development efforts.

About the ISC’s Centre for Science Futures:

The ISC’s Centre for Science Futures aims to improve our understanding of emerging trends in science and research systems, providing options and tools for appropriate action. Through this initiative, the ISC continues to support and advance the global scientific community, particularly in underrepresented regions.

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