International Science Programme (ISP)

Results of our work

Our support has benefitted postgraduate students and researchers part of research groups and scientific networks in Africa, Asia and Latin America since the 1980s.

What is ISP?

"ISP is a unique program that promotes strengthening of basic sciences and higher education in developing countries. Its approach is realistic and down to earth."

Dr Mohamed Gharib Bilal
Former Vice-President of Tanzania
Current Member of the ISP Board


ISP in numbers

Beneficiaries. Over the years, 120 research groups from 56 academic institutions in Africa, Asia and Latin America has received ISP support. So far, 27 regional scientific networks has been supported, covering additional institutions in the regions. Approximately 1,700 PhD students and staff members have received fellowships and research visits to Sweden and elsewhere since the start in 1961.

Outcomes. On average, each million Euro invested in our research groups and networks results in:

  • 12 PhD degrees
  • 50 MSc degrees
  • 200 published papers and conference contributions
  • A multitude of scientific exchange visits and meetings
  • Improved research environments through installation, use and maintenance of advanced scientific equipment

Non-measurable effects. Long lasting international scientific collaborations and personal relationships, the establishment of a research culture, improved research management, the start of MSc- and PhD programs, and gained recognition within the international scientific community.  

Tracing ISP graduates

Low brain-drain. 92% of the PhD's graduated from our supported groups and networks 2008-2013 are working in their home countries and regions.

Building university capacity. Many of the graduates from our supported groups and networks are employed at universities or research institutes in their home countries - contributing to increased quality of research and higher education. Most graduates are Lectures or Senior Lectures, but alumni also hold positions as Head of Department, Dean of Science, and Deputy Vice Chancellor.

Outside academia. There are examples of graduates employed at the National Council for Higher Education in Uganda, the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and the National Tuberculosis Program in Burkina Faso.

Tracing graduates 2008-2013

our alumni and their research

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What do you think about ISP?

"ISP has been doing a great job to ensure capacity building in many countries where the basic facilities are absent."

H.E. Prof Ameenah Gurib Fakim
President of the Republic of Mauritius
Former ISP Reference Group Member


Contribution to the SDG's

Through the use of research results, knowledge and skills our supported research groups and networks are contributing to the achievement of several of the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Zero hunger

Chemistry Bangladesh. A research group at University of Dhaka has contributed to the “Bangladesh Food Act 2013”. The act is now a food safety law ensuring peoples right to access safe food. The group was also part in the creation of the “Formalin Control Act 2015”, a licensing system for the import and use of the solvent Formalin, used to preserve fresh food in Bangladesh.

Chemistry Burkina Faso. A chemistry network laboratory at University of Ouagadougou has been chosen by the Government of Burkina Faso as a Center of Reference and Control for nutritional issues. The overall goal of the network is to improve the nutritional status of the Sub-Saharan African population, with special emphasis on vulnerable groups.

Good health and well-being

Physics Bangladesh. A research group in biomedical physics at University of Dhaka has developed and implemented instrumentation and software for a telemedicine-based rural healthcare system, using modern communication technology to provide remote access to clinical health care and medical services. A low-cost computerized pedograph for diabetic patients has also been developed, in 2011 listed by the World Health Organization as a new and emerging health technology.

Mathematics Uganda. The results of infectious-disease modeling of malaria, HIV, hepatitis E, and sleeping sickness carried out by a research group supported at Makerere University, have been utilized by the Ugandan Medical Research Council to advice on the best investment strategy to fight infectious diseases.

Quality education

The PhD education of staff members in supported research groups and networks is contributing to increasing the quality of research and higher education at their departments. In addition, they continuously organize and participate in science workshops, training courses and science camps for both high school teachers and students aiming to increase the quality of teaching and education in the fields of chemistry, mathematics and physics.

Clean Water and sanitation

Physics Bangladesh. A biomedical physics research group at University of Dhaka contributed to the development and distribution of new methods for solar water pasteurization and rainwater collection, providing safe drinking water to people in the urban slums.

Chemistry Burkina Faso. Members of a network coordinated from University of Ouagadougou developed an electrocoagulation-based approach using iron, to efficiently treat wastewater of the city, in partnership with the Burkina Faso National Office for Water and Sanitation.

Affordable and clean energy

Physics East Africa. A research group at University of Nairobi regularly organizes a Solar Academy for training in solar power system design, installation and maintenance. A physics network organizes similar workshops that bring together solar cell technicians from a number of East African countries for professional training.

Physics Zambia. A research group at University of Zambia is engaged in the electrification of rural areas, using solar panels.

Sustainable cities and communities

Physics Ethiopia. A research group supported at Addis Ababa University has produced a seismic hazard map, which will be of use to the Ethiopian Ministry of Urban Development and Construction in the creation of the new country building code.

Mathematics Senegal. A network working in hydrological modeling is developing mathematical models of agricultural irrigation systems, controlling the flow and level of rain- and groundwater through a network of channels. The models will help farmers in West African countries, which are dependent on irrigation systems to grow crops during both rainy and dry seasons.

Why ISP?

"ISP is the only important organization I know of, besides the ICTP, that has an explicit mandate to promote physical sciences in low-income countries."

Prof Mohamed Hassan
Former Executive Director of TWAS
Current Co-Chair of IAP & Chairman of UNU-Council