Selected Development Account project success stories
Disseminating knowledge through the Virtual Institute
The Strengthening national capacities for home grown economic policies through a network of the UNCTAD Virtual Institute (06/07O) project has produced a number of clear measurable impacts in terms of: (a) the enhancement of teaching and research of policy-relevant trade and development issues at beneficiaries universities (more than 15.000 students used the Virtual Institute (Vi) teaching material; (b) the establishment of international research collaborations in the form of joint projects between universities from different continents; (c) the strengthening of policy-relevant local research capacity at beneficiary universities; (d) increased access to trade-related teaching resources for more than 1,300 academics through the website of the Vi; (e) laying the ground for long-term sustainability of the Vi's activities by focusing on the development of local capacity and supporting departments and academic programmes - as opposed to individuals.
Four generic sets of teaching material were produced and twenty-two adapted to local needs; in addition eight joint research projects were completed. The Vi further used local expertise in a very efficient way.
The wide range of services offered and the global scope of the Vi draws interest not only from LDCs but also from middle income and developed countries. Working through the Vi is a good way to identify partners from developing countries for research collaboration and, in the case of developed countries, to identify post graduate students. The Vi is also a catalyst to obtaining project funding. In many countries association with the Vi is perceived as a mark of international approval and helped obtain locally available grants. Some universities have also found a partner through the Vi and obtained funds from outside resources by submitting a joint grant proposal. By leveraging contributions from its partners, the Vi has been at the centre of a learning network, facilitating the transfer of vastly more knowledge than would be possible just from the Institute in-house resources. This Development Account project allowed, in particular, to institutionalize a two-way dissemination of knowledge between universities, and the dissemination of knowledge from Geneva-based institutions and the members.