The purpose of the Grants Management & Systems Administration (GMSA) directorate is to implement grant management on behalf of the funding directorates of the Research and Innovation, Support and Advancement (RISA) business unit of the NRF. The grant management process can be broadly divided into two parts: Pre- and Post award activities.
Pre-award activities include placing calls for proposals; screening and verification of applications; orchestrating the assessment of the quality of proposals; communication of funding decisions with appropriate constructive feedback to applicants.
Post-award activities include the acceptance of conditions of award; student nominations; payment of grant funds (this includes the award, release and payment of funds against the agreed budget); monitoring of expenditure and adjustments of the awarded grants (e.g., changes to the budget, research plans, research outcomes, team members and students); receipt of annual progress reports; carry-forward of multiyear grants; etc. GMSA is comprised of five divisions, namely:
- International Research Grants
- Strategic Knowledge Fields Grants
- Capacity and Strategic Platforms Grants
- Scholarships and Fellowships Programme
- South African Research Chair Initiative and Centres of Excellence Programme
Note: To view open calls for funding, please visit the funding section of this website
International Research Grants
The International Research Grants (IRG) unit is responsible for grants management of the Science and Technology Agreements Funds and International Science Liaison which is located within the International Relations and Cooperation directorate. The IRG is responsible for the management of the following grant related activities:
- Binational Agreements (Intergovernmental S&T agreements funded out of DST ring fenced funds)
- Bilateral Agreements (Agency to Agency agreements funded out of the NRF core grant)
- Focus on Africa (funded from the DST contract funds)
- Special Projects (Majority of these are funded from ring fenced and contract funds)
- Knowledge Interchange and Collaboration (KIC)
- Dowload Progress report template for International Research Grants : Click here
Strategic Knowledge Fields Grants
The Strategic Knowledge Fields Grants (SKFG) programme in unison with other programmes in RISA, facilitate the realisation of the NRF’s mandate to ‘promote and support research and research capacity development in all fields of knowledge and technology’ through grant making and paying. The programme also uses the existing NRF Online and Phoenix System to:
- decrease the manual administrative work associated with grant making;
- improve grant processes by being more efficient and effective;
- improve communication/customer service with external audiences, especially the research community;
- improve grant payment;
- improve expenditure reporting; and
- other audit obligations.
Furthermore, in an effort to optimise on business activities, the programme has designed practical and sustainable operational strategies to improve grant making and expenditure management.
The strategies include:
- project planner to scope granting activities,
- weekly scheduler to monitor staff activities,
- performance management to monitor staff performance relative to agreed deliverables,
- review and assessment processes to adjudicate on the scientific merit and fundability of projects submitted to the NRF,
- data management and deployment for ease of access,
- audit records and management and
- annual report analyses to understand the diversity of research fields/areas supported and showcase projects deemed to be exceptional and breaking new research grounds or fields.
Scholarships and Fellowships Programme
There are a number of different funding streams available within the Scholarships and Fellowships Programme. Please refer to the Guide to Student Support for details.
The purpose of the programme is to support outstanding students who are South African citizens and who intend registering as full-time students for the following:
- Honours’s degree/Btech at a South African university/university of technology
- Master’s degree/diploma at a South African university/university of technology
- Doctoral degree at a South African university /university of technology
- Doctoral degree abroad (only a very limited number of scholarship)
- Postdoctoral research at a South African university/university of technology
- Postdoctoral research abroad (only a very limited number of fellowships is available for this purpose)
Mobility of scholarship-holders
NRF scholarships will enable Master’s and doctoral students to take advantage of the best possible training opportunities in South Africa. In the case of doctoral and postdoctoral students this also applies to training opportunities abroad. Students will access these scholarships/fellowships in their own right and will not be linked to a specific higher education institution when applying but letters of reference will be required to support the application.
Criteria for the selection of scholarship/fellowship-holders
The award of scholarships and fellowships will be based on research potential, academic performance, the quality of the research proposal and the host and hosting institution. Selection criteria will also include:
- academic merit
- promise of research ability
- leadership qualities
- project proposal
- and the previous award of various prizes and honours.
Assessment of candidates will be based on all available evidence of ability and potential, including academic records and recommendations regarding each applicant’s qualifications, contained in the application. Selection of awardees is done in merit order.
Note: The NRF has embarked on corrective action activities and in its reporting is obliged to reflect its investment in this regard.
South African Research Chairs Initiative and Centres of Excellence
South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) and Centres of Excellence (CoE) are DST funded programmes that are designed to accelerate delivery of appropriate human resources and knowledge capacity as well as raising international competitiveness, visibility and esteem of South African science. The SARChI and CoE programmes which were established in 2006 and 2004 respectively are currently managed by the National Research Foundation.
The GMSA responsibilities include:
- managing the award process (opening of the call, facilitating the review process and awarding of the grants);
- managing the grants of the programmes; and
- monitoring and reporting on grant expenditure.
Capacity and Strategic Platforms Grants
Human and Institutional Capacity Development Grants (Core Grants)
The HICD Grants unit manages the pre- and post-award processes of the grants which have as a main purpose the support and development of early career academics as well as the partnering with higher education institutions in the enhancement of their research culture, environment, ethos and practice to become world class African universities in order to deliver in numbers and quality the skills required by the national system of innovation.
A number of different programmes are included:
Strategic Platforms Grants (Contract grants)
The Strategic Platforms Support (SPP) Grants are geared towards the strengthening of research infrastructure and specific research platforms in the country in order to develop highly skilled people and generate new knowledge and technologies that are a prerequisite for progress in science and technology as well as economic growth.
A number of different programmes are included:
- Research Infrastructure Support Programme
- National Equipment Programme (NEP)
- National Nanotechnology Equipment Programme (NNEP)
- Strategic Research Infrastructure Programme (SRIG)
- Synchrotron Grants
- Collaboration with National Facilities
- Mobility Grants
- DST Nanotechnology Flagships Programme