Research Arm

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The Research Arm (RA) was established at the National Science Foundation (NSF) due to the urgent need to re-orientate the scientific research initiatives promoted by the organization. The initiative would enable the identification of national priority research needs in order to bridge the gaps that exist in industry and product development framework, to promote the quality of life of citizens and to ensure economic returns for investments made through scientific grant awards. Efforts are to ensure that the best available scientific resources in the country will be harnessed and directed towards the efforts in implementation of the government’s policy set out within the Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour. The transformative changes will nurture new trends in local research with emphases on multidisciplinary approaches, specially to establish an innovative culture, translational research, cost-effective and efficient product development with industry growth whilst fostering public-private partnerships.

The planning and implementation will be through

  1. Identification of high priority areas for research in line with the national needs, development plans, policies, and market gaps
  2. Promotion of multidisciplinary research through facilitation of the establishment of Centres of Innovation.
  3. Identification of best available human and physical resources to promote strategic, interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and translational research in targeted areas
  4. Facilitation of public-private partnerships, particularly through commissioned research
  5. Identification and support of impactful scientific research work that needs scaling up
  6. Publicize grant opportunities and sources of financing for targeted research
  7. Performance assessment and impact management through regular monitoring and reviewing of progress and impact of the grants awarded

Activities planned will include, but not limited to

  • Events organized under priority themes to
    • highlight market-driven trends and gaps in the industry
    • sensitize researchers as to the research needs, market gaps and opportunities in the field of R&D
  • Events to publicize impactful research and resultant products to create interest among commercial partners to promote their engagement through a public-private partnership
  • Publicity of available financial opportunities for research
  • Establishment of Steering Committees (SC) under the purview of the RA to represent clusters for promoting R&D in each priority area. SC will consist of a core group of experts in the relevant field who will steer activities related to the assigned area to identify the niche areas, essential research gaps and priorities for further studies to promote economic returns through R&D investments.
Composition of Research Arm,
Prof Nadira Karunaweera
(Chairperson of the Committee)
Chair and Senior Professor of Parasitology
University of Colombo.
Prof Siri Hettige  
(Member of the Committee)
Professor Emeritus of Sociology Department of Sociology
University of Colombo

Mr Rizvi Zaheed
(Member of the Committee)
President Agri-Entrepreneurs’ Forum.

Prof Ruchira Cumaranatunga
(Member of the Committee)
Senior Professor of Fisheries and Oceanography,
Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture,
University of Ruhuna.

Prof Rahula Attalage
(Member of the Committee)
Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research,
Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT).

Prof Ajantha Dharmasiri
(Member of the Committee)
Professor in Management and Former Director,
Postgraduate Institute of Management,
University of Sri Jayewardenepura.

Prof Punniamoorthy Ravirajan
(Member of the Committee)
Dean, Faculty of Science and Senior Professor in Physics,
University of Jaffna.

Prof. Hemanthi Ranasinghe
(Member of the Committee)
Snr. Professor in Forestry and Environmental Science,
University of Sri Jayewardenepura,

Dr Herath Manthrithilake
(Member of the Committee)
Advisor to DG and Former Country Manager,
International Water Management Institute.

Ms. Christine Dassanayake
(Coordinator of the Committee)
Senior Scientific Officer,
National Science Foundation.

TOR of Research Arm

  1. To identify high priority research areas in line with the national priorities and policy.
  2. To identify researchers with good track records to promote strategic interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and translational research in the areas identified above.
  3. To encourage and facilitate public-private partnerships in research and commissioned research.
  4. To facilitate securing international funding for collaborative, inter-institutional strategic research by assisting the development of research proposals.
  5. To develop and facilitate a transparent, robust, and time-efficient proposal evaluation process
  6. To periodically monitor and review progress of the grants awarded for successful completion.
  7. To ensure that a right balance is maintained between different types of research, i.e. basic/blue-sky, applied, and mission-oriented research.
  8. To disseminate research findings to the policy makers, planners, community, and industry while protecting IPR.

Steering Committees of Research Arm

The research arm (RA) of NSF has identified 09 high priority areas for research promotion for the country’s development. RA appointed its members to lead and drive each priority area as per their expertise. Subsequently, Steering committees were established under each priority areas to support RA as RA has very strong and boarder ToR covering vast areas identifying research priority areas, identifying researchers with good track record, encourage PPP, facilitate securing international funding, develop evaluation and monitoring and disseminate research findings. Members for steering committees were appointed from the experts in higher educational institutes, research institutes and industry for getting support to RA in achieving the above tasks. The priority areas, steering committee, and chairs to lead each of these thematic areas are listed below: 
Steering Committee on Research & Development of Agriculture Sector
Mr Rizvi Zaheed
(Chairman of the Committee)
President Agri-Entrepreneurs’ Forum

Dr Anojan Selvanathan,
(Member of the Committee)
Managing Director,
Polygon Agro (Pvt.) Ltd.

Mr Jeevan Gnanam
(Member of the Committee)
Director, Spectrify AI, CEO Orion City,
The Hatch/Hatch Agri,
752 Dr Danister De Silva Mawatha,
Colombo 9

Mr.Aruna Weerakoon,
(Member of the Committee)
Agro-Culture Trends Pvt Ltd,
73, Vihara Mawatha,

Mr. Haridas Fernando
(Member of the Committee)
Group Manager Agribusiness,
Cargills (Cey) Ltd

Mr. Nirmal Hettiarachchi
(Member of the Committee)
Technical Head,
Fresh Produce,
Jaykay Marketing Services Ltd

Mr Jayantha Rajapakse,
(Member of the Committee)
Managing Director,
Unipower Ltd/CIC Group

Mr. Manju Gunawardena
(Member of the Committee)
Head of Research LOLC,
No. 100/1, Sri Jayewardenepura Mawatha,

Prof. Ilmi Hewajulige
(Member of the Committee)
Research Professor,
Industrial Technology Institute (ITI)

Dr Saman Dharmakeerthi
(Member of the Committee)
Dept. of Soil Science,
Faculty of Agriculture,
University of Peradeniya

Dr Jaanaki Gooneratne
(Member of the Committee)
Former Deputy Director of ITI,
88A, Piliyandala Road,

Dr Ranjith Mahindapala
(Member of the Committee)
Independent Evaluator,
23 Athula Mawatha,
Off Temples Road,
Mount Lavinia

Ms. Dilani Jayaweera
(Coordinator of the Committee)
Scientific Officer,
National Science Foundation,
45, Maitland Place,
Colombo 07.
Steering Committee on Research & Development for Engineering Services & SMEs
Steering Committee on Research & Development of Fisheries & Aquaculture
Steering Committee on Research & Development of Cost-Efficient Energy Sources and Storage
Steering Committee on Research & Development of Information Technology and Services
Steering Committee on Research & Development of Healthcare Innovations
Steering Committee on Research & Development of Water
Steering Committee on Research & Development of Environment
Steering Committee on Research & Development of Social Innovations

Activities of the Research Arm: Summary

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