Government of Canada Commits $20 Million to Fund 5 New Science and Technology Schools in Africa - Championed by Neil Turok's TED Prize Wish

Prime Minister of Canada Announces $20 Million in Federal Funding for African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS)

Jul 07, 2010, 09:00 ET from TED Conferences

WATERLOO, Ontario, July 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, today announced new federal funding of $20 million CDN to expand science and technology education in Africa via the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS).

The new funding from Canada will support a planned network of five AIMS postgraduate schools across Africa by 2015, including new centres in Ethiopia, Ghana and Senegal.

The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) was founded by physicist Neil Turok, the Director of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario. In 2008, Turok won the prestigious TED Prize for his work with AIMS, a small postgraduate institute in Cape Town, South Africa, that provides rigorous scientific training for young African postgrad students. With the TED Prize, Turok was granted "one wish to change the world." His wish: to expand the successful AIMS system from its home in Cape Town into many other African nations, and to look for the "next Einstein" in Africa. The Next Einstein Initiative eventually seeks to create a network of 15 AIMS centers by 2020, graduating 750 scientists and technologists a year across Africa.

In a presentation ceremony at the Perimeter Institute, Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada, announced the new federal funding as a central element of a partnership between Canadian universities, the private sector and African governments focused on establishing the AIMS network.  Prime Minister Stephen 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."

Perimeter Institute Director Neil Turok, who is also the founder of AIMS, thanked the Prime Minister for accelerating the growth of scientific centres of excellence in Africa. He said, "We are honoured today to be working with the Government of Canada in support of its efforts to build a better, safer world in which health, freedom, peace and solvency — rights which characterise life in Canada — are shared by all. With today's announcement of major support for the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), Canada is also pioneering the sharing of knowledge and expertise as a route to development.  Just as ideas and innovation are the foundation of Canada's new economy, they will be the basis of Africa's future economic, educational, scientific and governance self-sufficiency."

Also at the announcement was Dr. Stephen Hawking, a Distinguished Research Chair at the Perimeter Institute and a patron of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences who visited South Africa in May 2008 to help announce the Next Einstein Initiative, the TED Prize project that hopes to expand AIMS into a pan-African network of schools. Professor 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 the announcement, 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 centres and we welcome all partners who believe in our vision to harness the process and power of science for peace, progress and prosperity."

Reached in Bangalore, India, where he is speaking at TEDxBLR, Chris Anderson, the founder of the TED Prize, said: "We're absolutely delighted at this news. Neil Turok's visionary TED Prize wish that the next Einstein come from Africa is being given the best possible chance to come true. This is a giant step forward for the project and thrilling news for everyone who's helped make it real."

About AIMS and the Next Einstein Initiative

The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) is a centre for education and research in Cape Town, South Africa. AIMS was established in 2003 as a partnership project of 6 universities: Cambridge, Cape Town, Oxford, Paris Sud XI, Stellenbosch, and Western Cape. The goals of AIMS are: To promote mathematics and science in Africa; To recruit and train talented students and teachers; and to build capacity for African initiatives in education, research, and technology. The Next Einstein Initiative, a project of Neil Turok's 2008 TED Prize wish, is working to grow the successful AIMS approach into a network of science and technology centers across Africa. For more information about the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences and the Next Einstein Initiative, see or and

About the Perimeter Institute and its Global Outreach program

Canada's Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics is an independent, non-profit, scientific research and educational outreach organization where international scientists cluster to push the limits of our understanding of physical laws and develop new ideas about the very essence of space, time, matter and information. The centre provides a multi-disciplinary environment to foster scientific collaboration in research areas of cosmology, particle physics, quantum foundations, quantum gravity, quantum information, superstring theory, and related disciplines. The Perimeter Institute also provides a wide array of award-winning outreach programs for students, teachers and the general public across Canada in order to share the joy of research, discovery and innovation. In partnership with the Governments of Ontario and Canada, PI continues to be a successful example of private and public collaboration in science research and education.

PI's new Global Outreach program promotes globally emerging centers of excellence in math and science, especially in the developing world. PI does not fund other organizations, but assists them by sharing best practices in developing, establishing and operating centres of excellence. For more information about Perimeter Institute's Global Outreach activities, please contact Suzanne Corbeil, PI Director of Global Outreach, at To learn more about Perimeter Institute, please visit

About the TED Prize

The TED Prize is designed to leverage the TED community's exceptional array of talent and resources. It is awarded annually to an exceptional individual who receives $100,000 and, much more important, "One Wish to Change the World." After months of preparation, each winner unveils their wish during the TED Conference. These wishes have led to collaborative initiatives with far-reaching impact -- from a worldwide film festival (Pangea Day) to important steps forward on our oceans (Mission Blue). See a roundup of all TED Prizes and projects at

We work closely with TED sponsors, attendees and the online community to obtain pledges of support for the TED Prize winners. These pledges can take the form of business services, hardware and software, publicity, infrastructure, advice, connections … Any and all pledges of support are welcomed. Major support for the TED Prize has come from AMD, Sun Microsystems, AvenueA/Razorfish, Hot Studio, Nokia, IDEO, Kleiner Perkins, @radicalmedia, Adobe and Photosynth. This is in addition to the funding and support from the Sapling Foundation and TED staff.

Learn more about the TED Prize at Follow the TED Prize on Twitter at @TEDPrize.

About TED

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California 26 years ago, TED has grown to support those world-changing ideas with multiple initiatives. At TED, the world's leading thinkers and doers are asked to give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes. Talks are then made available, free, at TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Al Gore, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Benoit Mandelbrot, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Isabel Allende and former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Two major TED events are held each year: The TED Conference takes place every spring in Long Beach, California (along with a simulcast, TEDActive, in Palm Springs), and TEDGlobal is held each summer in Oxford, UK. TED's media initiatives include, where new TEDTalks are posted daily, the Open TV Project, bringing TEDTalks to global broadcast networks, and the Open Translation Project, which provides English subtitles and interactive transcripts and allows any TEDTalk to be translated into any language by volunteers worldwide. TED has established the annual TED Prize, where exceptional individuals win "one wish to change the world"; TEDx, which supports individuals and groups in hosting local, self-organized events around the world; and the TED Fellows program, helping world-changing innovators from around the globe to become part of the TED community and amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.

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TEDGlobal 2010, "And Now the Good News," will be held July 13-16, 2010, in Oxford, UK. TED2011, "The Rediscovery of Wonder," will be held February 28-March 4, 2011, in Long Beach, California, along with the TEDActive simulcast in Palm Springs, California.

Laura Galloway

Galloway Media Group


SOURCE TED Conferences