Two Centuries of Indian Print project shortlisted for Newton Prize

Annapurna's crossing from Bhabananda's house

Recognising the digitisation project

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Dr Nur Sobers-Khan has been shortlisted for the 2017 Newton Prize for her project to digitise the British Library’s early printed South Asian books as part of the ‘Two Centuries of Indian Print’ project.

The Prize is an annual £1 million fund awarded for the best research or innovation that supports the economic development and social welfare of developing countries. Dr Sobers-Khan's shortlisting puts her in the running win up to £200,000 from the Prize to be used to advance or develop the work further.

The Newton Prize is part of the broader Newton Fund, which builds research and innovation partnerships with 18 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, and each partner country provides matched funding and resources for every programme, making it an equitable partnership.

The British Library is undertaking a major project to catalogue and digitise all its South Asian language printed books published before 1914, and the Newton Fund project is cataloguing and digitising 3000 Bengali titles in the pilot phase of this project, as well as creating a series of skill-sharing workshops in the field of digital humanities between India and the UK. By digitising these collections to make them openly available and communicating their significance through research and public outreach, this project is contributing to the world’s knowledge base, and enhancing standards for cataloguing, metadata and imaging in the digital research community in the UK and India.

More than 150 Newton funded projects, fellowships or other awards applied for the Newton Prize from the eligible countries for this year – 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. There will be two winners in India and one in Malaysia, Thailand and in Vietnam.

The Newton Prize winners will be announced at celebratory award ceremonies held in each of the partner countries:

  • India – 1 November
  • Thailand – 8 November
  • Malaysia – 14 November
  • Vietnam – 16 November

The Minister for Universities, Science and Research Jo Johnson will also host a UK event in London in early December to celebrate the first year of the Prize and to announce the 2018 Newton Prize countries.

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.

Further information is available on the Newton Fund website. Follow their Twitter feed for regular updates about the Newton Prize: @NewtonFund and #NewtonPrize

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