Home » RISA Directorates » IEPD » Institutional Engagement and Partnership Development (IEPD)


The Institutional Engagement and Partnership Development (IEPD) Directorate was established by the National Research Foundation (NRF) in 2013 to enhance and strengthen institutional research capabilities in key competency areas. This will be achieved through focused and individualised institutional engagement and customised interventions developed through business intelligence gathering and analysis. The changes in the South African higher education sector have led to the emergence of new institutional identities, necessitating a different approach to research capacity development and support mechanisms. The Directorate is a platform for the NRF to be responsive to these changes, to encourage collaboration between institutions, to accelerate capacity building and improve research productivity.

The NRF, through the IEPD Directorate, will be able to respond to institutional and researcher funding needs through a customised approach. The directorate will furthermore facilitate the leveraging of resources through linkages with industry and local and international research support bodies.

The IEPD objectives are to:

  • Implement strategic partnership initiatives to address major human and institutional challenges relating to research productivity and capacity
  • Provide strategic support and advice to institutions, in line with institutional vision
  • Encourage collaboration between institutions
  • Enhance research culture and the growth of a knowledge based economy

The key action themes associated with the above objectives are:

  • Strategic partnership initiatives
  • Provision of guidance to institutions, where necessary, on approaches to improve research productivity and capacity development
  • Identification of barriers to research at institutions and design of targeted approaches that better respond to institutional needs
  • Establishment of public-private partnerships that respond to the differentiated higher education sector
  • Strategic support and collaboration between institutions
  • Prioritise diversity (local and international), quality and mobility in postgraduate student funding
  • Embedding a research culture by instituting community of practice forums targeted at specific groupings of universities and research institutions