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Telford Challenge set for off

AGREEMENT OF all official documentation for the engineering profession's initiative to alleviate world poverty was hammered out at the ICE last week.

First meeting of the permanent Telford Challenge steering group - representing the Department for International Development, Royal Academy of Engineering and the four main engineering institutions - agreed to fund the pounds100,000 administration costs over two years. DFID will stump up pounds50,000 and the sponsoring institutions the rest.

The money will help pay for a Telford Challenge project manager who is expected to start on 1 December. A shortlist of six - for the post which attracted 42 applications - are being interviewed this week.

ICE vice president Professor George Fleming, who sits on the steering group, said: 'We have agreed all draft documentation for the business plan, publicity material and application forms for proposals. Our target is to authorise the first three or four proposals in January 1999. We have already had 25 proposals sent in unsolicited.'

Publicity material will be sent out to potential sponsors in November, two months before the first awards are due to be made. Up to pounds600,000 from DFID will only be unlocked over the two years with matching funding.

'We will soon be going to industry and various bodies and trusts,' said Fleming. 'So far there is no funding, but we hope to identify some projects early next year and take them to potential donors and say 'what do you think?'. I don't think it will be beyond large construction companies to put in pounds10,000, or some of the very large companies, a lot more. We wouldn't be doing it if we weren't confident of gaining the funding.'

The meeting also confirmed the charitable status of the Telford Challenge. Four trustees, including Fleming, have been appointed to oversee the charity which will be reviewed after two years with a view to another three year programme. Next meeting of the permanent steering group is 19 November. For more information on the Telford Challenge call (0171) 304 6871.

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