Home » RISA Directorates » IRC » International Relations and Cooperation Instruments


As a Directorate, the IRC focuses on four core modalities in order to achieve its mandate within RISA, namely bilateral and multilateral agreements, regional cooperation, strategic agreements and enabling mobility across borders.


Focusing on building and strengthening partnerships through cooperation with international partners Overseas Collaboration (OC) is tasked with promoting South Africa’s science and technology links on the global front. Working closely with the Department of Science and Technology  (DST), OC participates in the implementation of the intergovernmental and interagency agreements by funding joint research projects and in the process ensures capacity building in key strategic areas.


The goal of this instrument is to promote and support continental, regional and global scientific collaboration in order to contribute to socio-economic and sustainable growth of South Africa and the rest of the continent. In this regard, multilateralism as a way of increasing the country’s science and technology research and development agenda through human capacity and skills development as the driver for promoting international competiveness through knowledge transfer is emphasised.


Focuses on funding mechanisms for innovative, contemporary and targeted initiatives. New investment horizons, active partners and cross-cutting initiatives form part of this funding framework. Instruments under this framework include:

  • UK Newton Fund – A UK/South Africa initiative aimed at improving the research and innovation capacity of emerging nations. Click here for more information on the Newton Fund
  • International Council for Science (ICSU) – Click here more information on ICSU South Africa
  • Southern African Young Scientists’ Summer Programme (SA-YSSP) - An innovative initiative that contributes to the establishment, growth and enhancement of high level strategic research networks internationally. Click here for more information on the SA-YSSP.
  • TWAS/NRF agreement for Mobility of Students from Africa - A five-year agreement on human capital development, supported by the DST. Up to 240 bursaries for postgraduate students will be provided to study and conduct research in South Africa.
  • Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) - The JINR is an independent, multinational research agency located in Dubna, Russian Federation. The JINR conducts both theoretical and practical research, mainly in the fields of elementary particle physics, nuclear physics and condensed matter physics. Click here for more information on the JINR.
  • Strengthening the Capacities of Science Granting Councils in Sub-Saharan Africa - A 5-year investment for institutional strengthening and quality improvement of granting and research support. The programme will be supported by NRF, IDRC and DFID.


This instrument focuses on the internationalization of South Africa’s research platform, the enhancement of networking in the global science system and the nurturing of collaboration to improve the quality of research outputs by researchers. It is enabled through the activities of the KIC , the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) and ICSU. The KIC funding instrument is South Africa’s largest mobility programme, supporting South Africa-based researchers to increase and expand their international networks. Specific engagements with Africa have been supported since 2013, with a concomitant increase in quality applications under the Africa bilateral framework as a consequence. Annually, more than 400 applications are supported, of which approximately 40% are focussed on Africa.