The Central Asian Research Forum on Sustainable Development and Innovation


On 25 September 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 Targets to end poverty, protect our planet, promote peace, and ensure prosperity for all. All states, including Central Asian states, supported this initiative to achieve SD goals by 2030 and improve the quality of life in Central Asia for the current and future generations.

The ultimate success of the SDGs depends on solid collaboration and partnership among all concerned actors: United Nations, governments, policy-makers, civil society, business sectors, local communities, and of course researchers and universities.

The Central Asian Research Forum on Sustainable Development and Innovation provides a platform for talented researchers from Central Asia to present their cutting-edge and action-oriented research projects on Sustainable Development, discuss them with concerned partners, and forge partnerships for future implementation.


The main goal of the Third Central Asian Research Forum on Sustainable Development and Innovation is to provide a platform to attract potential partners from government agencies and business structures to research projects of young Kazakhstani scientists, which are in line with the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

It is hoped that the Forum will result in a synergy between industry and young scientists and aid the development of Kazakhstan and other countries of Central Asia.

Forum’s Objectives can be summarised as follows:

  • Identify and engage in result-oriented discussion the key stakeholders in the UK and Central Asian region: researchers, PhD students, investors, universities, governmental decision-makers, and communities;

  • Provide an opportunity for PhD researchers to present their cutting-edge research, projects and solutions addressing SDGs;

  • Secure support and provisional funding from Central Asian investors and governments for the implementation of presented projects;

  • Establish working groups/think tanks for further collaboration and cooperation among stakeholders in the UK and Central Asia for the SD projects.


The Forum has received great support from the government, industries, and academic institutions. The sponsors and partners of the Forum are:

  • Nursultan Nazarbayev Foundation (General Sponsor)
  • The Administration of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan
  • The Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • Seedstars Kazakhstan
  • Loughborough University
  • British Council
  • The British-Kazakh Society
  • Bureau of the Astana International Financial Centre
  • Eurasian Center for People Management

15 - 19 MARCH 2021


LONDON/NUR-SULTAN, 20 April 2020 – Partnership and cooperation for sustainable development in Central Asia was the main topic of the plenary session of the Third Central Asian Research Forum on Sustainable Development and Innovation held online from 10 to 20 April 2020. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the forum, which was supposed to take place in London this March, was hosted online by the Kazakhstan PhD Association in the UK with the support of the Embassy of Kazakhstan in the UK and the Foundation of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan – Elbasy.

The forum’s main goal is to provide a platform for talented researchers from Central Asia to present and discuss ground-breaking scientific projects on the region’s sustainable development. The forum also facilitates detecting and involving potential partners from among governmental bodies, businesses and non-governmental organisations in research projects aimed at the sustainable development of Central Asian countries.

During the forum, the participants discussed the most relevant topics in science and industry. PhD students and scientists from leading European and Kazakh universities, such as Nazarbayev University, University College London, Loughborough University, Cardiff University, University of Manchester, Eurasian Technological University, and Wageningen University, presented cutting-edge ideas and developments in robotics, artificial intelligence, education, health, energy, and other fields.

The pre-forum session themed “How to build a successful, enjoyable and socially responsible research career in Kazakhstan: tips for agile researchers” took place on 10 April. Sergey Stanovkin, Head of BBC World News Commercial Representative Office in Eurasia, hosted a media and communications workshop the same day.

On 13 April, the forum continued with a session on gender equality with the participation of Irina Smirnova and Nurzhan Altayev, members of the Kazakh Parliament, as well as Saltanat Tursynbekova, member of the National Commission for Women, Family and Demographic Policy under the President of Kazakhstan. Kazakh researchers who spoke at the session delivered reports on gender equality in Kazakhstan and Central Asian countries.

A session themed “The role of robotics and AI in sustainable development” was hosted on 14 April. Bukeikhan Omarali, a doctoral student in robotics at Queen Mary University, spoke about a virtual reality research project which allows the operator to manipulate a robot’s movements at a remote distance to perform complex tasks.

The session on 15 April discussed sustainable development in education, covering inclusive education, protecting children from cyberbullying, and entrepreneurial ecosystem in universities.

The session on health and sustainable development on 16 April inevitably focused on the developments in creating a cure and a vaccine for the novel coronavirus. Mukhit Kulmaganbetov, a PhD candidate at Cardiff University, presented a project on using the external membrane of SARS-CoV-2 (novel coronavirus) as treatment and vaccine.

The session on “Energy and resource efficiency” on 17 April was devoted to the challenges of the transition to renewable energy sources.

During the discussions, the representatives of both public and private sectors concluded that there is vast potential for cooperation with scientists in promising research projects.

Speakers of the plenary session on the final day of the forum were: Erlan Idrissov, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to the UK; Rupert Goodman, Chairman of the British-Kazakh Society; Farkhad Kuanganov, Head of the Elbasy Academy; Professor Alexander van de Putte, Chief Strategy Officer of the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC); Lyazyat Askarova, Executive Director of “EXPO&WOMEN”; Professor Steve Rothberg, Pro Vice Chancellor for Research at Loughborough University; Vlastimil Samek, Head of the United Nations Information Centre in Kazakhstan; Aliya Galimova, Chair of the Committee on Civil Society of the Ministry of Information and Social Development of Kazakhstan; Richard Everitt, Director for Education and Development in Wider Europe at the British Council; Sergey Stanovkin, Head of BBC World News Commercial Representative Office in Eurasia; Professor Volker Roeben, Professor of Energy Law, International Law and Global Regulation at the University of Dundee; and Tessa Daling, Associate Director for Development at One Young World.

The session aimed at discussing ways to bring together as many stakeholders as possible in achieving sustainable development goals, both locally and globally, such as representatives of governmental agencies, the industry, including venture capital, and scientists.

In his opening speech Ambassador Idrissov noted that the current COVID-19 pandemic unearthed the true issues and challenges of the modern world, such as lack of trust, lack of coordinated action, and mass disinformation. He highlighted that because of this, the forum and similar platforms are even more important in terms of finding answers to questions about life after the pandemic.

The forum is held for the third consecutive year and was organised by the Kazakhstan PhD Association in the UK with the support of the Foundation of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan – Elbasy, the Embassy of Kazakhstan in the UK, the United Nations Information Centre in Kazakhstan, the British-Kazakh Society, JSC “Centre of International Programmes”, the Eurasian Technological University, the AIFC Bureau of Continuing Professional Development and the Loughborough University.

The in-person forum is scheduled to take place this October at Loughborough University London.

The forum’s sessions were broadcast online on Facebook (over 3,000 views); the recordings are available here.


In 2019, the Forum included two parallel events:
- the first event took place at Loughborough University (UK) on 18 March 2019. It showcased the research projects of PhD researchers in the UK with focus on sustainable development in Central Asia,
- the second event took place at the Astana International Finance Centre (Kazakhstan) on 4 April 2019 to showcase and stimulate Sustainable Development research across all local universities of Central Asian states: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

The idea of the Forum was to motivate researchers and PhD students to be more agile and enterprising. To this end, all presenting researchers converted their current research into projects with investment, commercial and social value. That’s why our Research Forum is not another conventional student research conference, but an alternative platform where research students can pitch to potential investors and also train their enterprising skills.

Research Forum in the UK (Post Release)

LOUGHBOROUGH, 18 March 2019 – The first stage of the Second Central Asian Research Forum on Sustainable Development and Innovation was held at Loughborough University, one of the UK's leading research universities. Young Kazakh scientists presented their scientific projects aimed at ensuring the sustainable development of the entire Central Asian region.
Loughborough University is one of the ten best universities in the UK and is known for its programmes aimed at implementing scientific research into business. The University has provided invaluable support to the forum, providing its site for the event, as well as the opportunity to gain the invaluable experience of using scientific research to shape business processes.
The event was attended by the Ambassador of Kazakhstan to the United Kingdom Erlan Idrissov, Her Majesty's Ambassador to the Republic of Kazakhstan Michael Gifford, Director for Education and Society at the British Council Richard Everitt, member of the House of Lords Baroness Alison Suttie, Vice-Chancellor and President of the Loughborough University Professor Robert Allison, representatives of British and international businesses, as well as scientists from Central Asian states.
The forum was organised by the Kazakhstan PhD Association in the UK with the support of the Administration of the President of Kazakhstan, the Embassy of Kazakhstan in the UK, the Samruk Kazyna Welfare Fund, Kazakh Invest, the Foundation of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan – Elbasy, and the British-Kazakh Society.
More than 80 PhD students from Kazakhstan are studying in the UK on various programmes, including medicine, hydrology, chemistry, biology, physics, economics, mathematics, IT, and business management. Eighty-five percent of them are the recipients of the Bolashak presidential scholarship, and the remaining 15 percent are holders of scholarships from British universities. The Kazakhstan PhD Association was created in November 2017 to facilitate the interaction of young scientists of the two countries.
The main purpose of the event was to present the current research projects of Kazakh PhD students and discuss their advantages and disadvantages with the representatives of leading British universities and businesses. PhD students and scholars from leading British and Irish universities, such as Loughborough University, Trinity College Dublin, University College London, universities of Aberdeen, Dundee, Leicester, Liverpool, Cardiff, Southampton, and others presented advanced projects on the digitisation of the healthcare system, increasing the yield of Kazakh wheat, recycling mining waste, sustainable development within the chemicals and petrochemicals industries, urbanization, tourism and education.
Opening the forum, Ambassador Idrissov noted the most important element of achieving sustainable development goals was human capital. “The projects presented at the forum in the chemicals sector, development of new materials, and agricultural production, to name a few, serve as the evidence of the intentions of young scientists to develop a world-class academic system and improve the quality of life in Kazakhstan."

Research Forum in Kazakhstan (Post Release)

NUR-SULTAN, 4 April 2019 – The second stage of the Central Asian Research Forum on Sustainable Development and Innovation was held by the Kazakhstan PhD Association in the UK at the Astana International Campus of the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC).
The Kazakhstan stage was organised with the support of the Administration of the President of Kazakhstan, the Foundation of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan – Elbasy, the AIFC, as well as the Embassies of Kazakhstan and the United Kingdom in London and Nur-Sultan.
The forum attendees included the Head of the Internal Policy Department of the Administration of the President of Kazakhstan Aida Balayeva, UNDP Resident Representative in Kazakhstan Norimasa Shimomura, Vice Minister of Education and Science of Kazakhstan Rustem Bigari, AIFC Authority Deputy CEO Yernur Rysmagambetov, Astana Financial Services Authority (AFSA) Managing Director Mukhtar Bubeyev, Counsellor to the Vise-Chancellor of the Loughborough University Michael Green, representative of the Center for Social Cooperation and Communications of Samruk-Kazyna Sovereign Wealth Fund Askar Mukhashev, and scientists from UK, Kazakh, Kyrgyz and Uzbek universities. The aim of the forum is to provide a platform for attracting potential partners from the government and businesses to implement advanced projects by young scientists from Kazakhstan and the UK that are aimed at the region's sustainable development.
Young scientists presented their cutting-edge projects and discussed opportunities in strengthening ties and cooperation between Kazakh and British universities, as well as stimulating research in such areas as chemicals and mining, agriculture, tourism, energy, education, and infrastructure development.
“It is good that young Kazakh scientists, including those who received the best knowledge and experience, intend to unite and create a market for the demand for scientific research in our country. In this regard, the support of Kazakh businesses is also very important, because they are not always aware of our scientists' advanced projects. Therefore, I would really like your first positive experience of interaction with businesses to help unite all young scientists of our country on a common platform and launch a constructive dialogue between science and businesses in our country," said Ms. Balayeva.
The forum resulted in the signing of an agreement between the AIFC Bureau for Continuing Professional Development (BCPD Ltd) and the Kazakhstan PhD Association in the UK, which stipulates research cooperation on key AIFC activities.