The National Research Foundation was established as an independant government agency, through the National Research Foundation Act [Act No.23 of 1998].
The NRF receives its mandate from the National Research Foundation Act (Act No 23 of 1998, as amended). According to Section 3 of the Act, the object of the NRF is to contribute to national development by:
Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
Deputy Chief Executive Officer: National Research Infrastructure Platforms.
Group Executive: Finance and Business Systems and (CFO)
Deputy CEO: Research and Innovation Support and Advancement (RISA)
Group Executive: Science Engagement and Corporate Relations
Group Executive: Strategy Planning and Partnerships
Group Executive: Human Resources and Legal Services
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Collaborative Funding Call
NRF BRICS Call Guideline
DSI-NRF Postgraduate Student Funding for the 2023 Academic Year
Announcement of Successful Applications for the DSI-NRF general masters scholarships for 2022 academic year
Successful Applications for the DSI-NRF Postgraduate Scholarships for 2022 Academic Year
PHILA Awards 2022
2022 JWO Research Grant Applications Now Open
Africa’s leading research facility for accelerator based science. Probing fundamental structure and the origins of matter; Advancing the understanding of condensed matter; Impacting the Societal need through provision for the health and environmental sector
The iThemba Laboratory for Accelerator Based Sciences is the continents' biggest facility for particle and nuclear research.
The SAAO is a national facility of the NRF and the national centre for optical and infrared astronomy in South Africa.
SAEON is a national platform for detecting, translating and predicting environmental change.
SAIAB provides unique skills and infrastructure support in marine, estuarine and freshwater ecosystems research, molecular research, collections and bioinformatics.
SARAO is a national facility of the NRF and incorporates radio astronomy instruments and programmes such as MeerKAT and KAT-7 telescopes in the Karoo, (HartRAO) in Gauteng...
South Africa’s innovation revolution must assist in solving our society’s deep and pressing socio-economic challenges. Global competitiveness, shrinking resource availability, and the requirements of a skilled labour force mean that, increasingly, an awareness and understanding of why science and research are critical to our lives is essential for developing an innovation culture.
Within the next five years, the aim is to begin to more fully embed engagement in and with science in the core NRF missions of supporting and promoting new knowledge and growing new knowledge workers. This is led by the formulation of an acceptable NRF position on engaged research which will guide the NRF approach…
NRF | SAASTA is the NRF business division tasked with leading and coordinating the science engagement programme across the NRF and beyond. The NRF is equally committed to ensuring that the science engagement leadership and national coordination role…
The NRF provides leading-edge research infrastructure platforms that ensure that the national research enterprise has the requisite infrastructure to undertake globally competitive discovery science, train the next generation of researchers, support engagement with science by and with the public and promote innovation that positively impacts society, the environment, the economy.
The annual NRF Awards recognize and celebrate South African research excellence. The awards presented to researchers are in two categories, the ratings linked awards and special recognition awards.
The National Research Foundation (NRF) conducts its procurement of goods, services, and works in accordance with its Supply Chain Management Policy in a manner that is fair, equitable, transparent, competitive, and cost-effective
The National Research Foundation (NRF) is guided by its Supply Chain Management Policy in its procurement of goods and services. The Policy sets out the prescripts issued by National Treasury with the exact note referenced in the footnotes. The Supply Chain Management policy adheres to the National Treasury’s prescribed supply chain system framework.
The NRF’s Supply Chain Management Policy and the conduct of supply chain management at the NRF seeks to give effect to section 217 of the South African Constitution which requires that all procurement of goods and services must be done in a manner that is fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost-effective.
The National Research Foundation bid awards and contracts. Below is the latest award.
The Knowledge Advancement & Support (KAS) directorate contributes to the promotion and support of research by facilitating the advancement of the frontiers of existing and development of new fields of knowledge, and the necessary associated research capacity in the context of national research, developmental challenges and strategic initiatives.
KAS primarily focuses on the knowledge production activities at the basic research stage of the research-innovation-commercialisation value chain. It complements and works in parallel with the NRF value-chain directorates of Human and Infrastructure Capacity Development (HICD); Research Chairs and Centres of Excellence (RCCE).
KAS depends on the cross-cutting units of the NRF and works in close liaison with Grant Management and Systems Administration (GMSA), Reviews and Evaluation (RE), Strategy, Planning and Partnerships (SPP) and others to identify new business partners and initiatives; design new interventions; link with international partners and initiatives; facilitate transfer of knowledge; interact with communities and assess its work.
The specific objectives of the directorate are to:
The CPRR is a highly competitive discipline-based funding instrument which supports both basic and applied research as the foundation of knowledge production in the disciplines of the Humanities, Social and Natural sciences and Engineering
The African Origins Platform (AOP) is a discipline-specific funding instrument which supports research and associated human capacity development in the palaeosciences. South Africa’s obvious geographic advantage in palaeontological, paleoanthropological and archaeological research necessitates that the country emerges as a globally leading center for research excellence in these fields of study. This funding instrument seeks to contribute to knowledge production about South Africa’s palaeosciences in the Natural Sciences, Social Sciences and the Humanities.
This is a highly competitive, discipline-specific funding instrument, with specific focus on the research which is based on the Marine Research Plan (2014-2024), and is underpinned by the overarching South African Marine and Antarctic Research Strategy (MARS) of 2015. This funding instrument seeks to contribute to knowledge production about South Africa’s marine and coastal environment, in the Natural Sciences, Social Sciences and the Humanities.
The Human and Social Dynamics in Development funding instrument supports research that addresses developmental problems facing the country as identified by the National Planning Commission’s Diagnostic Overview. This research is intended to be policy and socially relevant i.e. to be able to inform policy and public debate and to identify and examine key issues and options for sustainable human development.
This instrument supports research and activities aimed at improving our understanding of the concept of community engagement and the suite of activities that this implies. This may include inter alia negotiating the terrain of knowledge production as a site of multiple processes and relations; interrogating the ways in which tacit knowledge is surfaced in the complex process of community engagement; and assessing the impact for, and changes in, communities as a result of newly coded knowledge.
ACEP is a flagship programme of the DST and the NRF, initiated to provide infrastructure and associated funding support for ecosystem research centred on coelacanths. The initiative was triggered by the discovery of this rare species off Sodwana Bay, South Africa but the scope has since extended beyond coelacanths. The project is implemented through the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB), a NRF national research facility.
SANCOR promotes the interests of science in the marine and coastal environments providing a forum for interaction, collaboration and communication for science in the marine and coastal environment, planning for the future, facilitating research, linking funders and researchers, advising on research priorities, contributing to marine policy development, educating and building capacity.
South Africa is one of the founding members of the Antarctic Treaty together with 11 other countries. All signatories of the Treaty agree that the Antarctic Continent will be used for peaceful and scientific purposes only. South Africa is the only African country with a presence in Antarctica.
The South African Department of Science and Technology (DST) entered into an agreement with the European Commission (EC), appointing the NRF and the European Research Council (ERC) as implementing agencies for this partnership. The aim of the agreement is to provide South African Postdoctoral researchers opportunities to pursue research collaboration with European colleagues already supported through EU-funded ERC grants. The collaboration is intended to enable South African postdoctoral researchers supported through the NRF postdoctoral fellowships to undertake research visits to ERC-supported teams. It is therefore expected that collaborations will occur in similar areas of scientific pursuit and on topics of mutual interest.
The LEAP-Agri partnership builds upon long term collaborations between Africa and Europe. It is exemplified by the support of the ERAfrica and ProIntensAfrica initiatives for this co-fund. The ERAfrica Initiative is an independent consortium of African and European funding organisations building on the success of the former ERA-Net ERAfrica where African and European research agencies financed the joint call. The LEAP-agri partners are pleased to announce the launch of the LEAP-Agri joint call for pre-proposals entitled: African European Collaborative Research on Sustainable Agriculture and Aquaculture for Food and Nutrition Security. This joint transnational research and innovation call is co-funded by the following partnering African and European countries: from Africa: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, South Africa, and Uganda, and from Europe: Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and Turkey and 1 international organisation, i.e. CIHEAM-Bari based in Italy.
The NRF has entered into a partnership agreement with the DFG of Germany to jointly fund International Research Training Groups (IRTGs) between the two countries. IRTGs are structured Doctoral Programmes aimed at training scientists and academics at different stages of their careers, with a particular emphasis on doctoral researchers. IRTGs promote systematic research cooperation through joint research and qualification programmes as well as through cooperative cross-border supervision of doctoral researchers. A central feature of IRTGs is the coordinated and reciprocal research visits by doctoral researchers at the respective partner institutions. The German-South African consortium will first need to submit a joint IRTG draft proposal to the DFG, submitted by the German host university. DFG will evaluate this draft proposal according to established procedures for IRTGs. DFG will inform the NRF of the results of the evaluations, and only positively evaluated proposals will be invited to submit a joint full proposal.
The NRF has entered into a partnership agreement with the DFG of Germany to jointly fund International Research Training Groups (IRTGs) between the two countries. IRTGs are structured Doctoral Programmes aimed at training scientists and academics at different stages of their careers, with a particular emphasis on doctoral researchers. A central feature of International Research Training Groups is coordinated and joint research visits by doctoral researchers at the respective partner institutions. DFG and the NRF provide for the possibility to support a joint workshop for the preparation of an IRTG proposal. Funding can be granted only if research cooperation is already established and plans for the IRTG have already been consolidated. Funding for the joint workshops may either be applied for prior to the submission of an IRTG draft proposal or after positive evaluation of an IRTG draft proposal but prior to submission of an IRTG full proposal.
FOSC which stands for “Food Systems and Climate”, is implemented as an H2020 ERA-NET Co-fund supporting R&I projects in “Food Systems and Climate Change” which aligns with the scope and expected impacts of the Horizon 2020 Challenges, e.g. Climate change and food systems. Building on earlier experiences such as LEAP-AGRI and JPI FACCE will be guided by strong partnership principles such as equitability, shared governance and long-term commitment from organisations that have established relationships like the Belmont forum. FOSC will pool the necessary financial resources from National Agencies in order to implement a joint call of proposals for a significant size. More specifically, this call is expected to be funded by a consortium of 29 partners from 19 countries.
The NRF is committed to promote international collaboration in advancing research excellence, reflected through agreements with a number of strategic partners. Informed by the long-standing knowledge engagement between South Africa and Switzerland, the NRF has formalised a Lead Agency Procedure (LAP) agreement with the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). The principle of the Lead Agency is to allow research funding organisations from two (or more) countries to engage in a cooperation in which one of the organisations involved – the Lead Agency – takes a leading role. The Lead Agency organisation would therefore lead the review and evaluation process to recommend applications for approval. The partner organisation makes its formal funding decision on the basis of the review documentation and the recommendation of the Lead Agency. The respective project parts are then financed by the individual organisations nationally, so that no funds need to be transferred across borders. In the framework of this Lead Agency Procedure agreement the SNSF will be the Lead Agency for this application round, with a deadline in 2021. In this round, the SNSF will implement the entire evaluation and selection procedure in 2021.
The United States of America’s National Science Foundation (NSF) Directorate of Biological Sciences and the National Research Foundation (NRF) have formed a partnership to promote opportunities for collaboration between researchers of the United States and South Africa. This collaboration offers United States and South African researchers an opportunity to apply for funding for Joint Research in Dimensions of Biodiversity.
Formal diplomatic relations between South Africa and the People’s Republic of China were established in January 1998. The relations were given impetus in 2001 through the creation of a Bi-National Commission (BNC) to champion bilateral relations in seven sectoral committees, including science and technology. In line with this agreement we are pleased to announce the 12th call for joint research project proposals between South African and Chinese researchers.
The South Africa/France PROTEA Programme is a bilateral incentive programme dedicated to strengthening the South Africa/France collaborative research. It is co-funded by both the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Higher Education and Research from the French side, and the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and the National Research Foundation (NRF) from the South African side. The development of the PROTEA Programme was based on a shared conviction regarding the importance of science, technology and innovation in building and sustaining a knowledge-based economy. The programme is a financial instrument supporting mobility and training of “incoming and outgoing” researchers, contributing to the development of new partnerships and to the strengthening of advanced scientific and technological exchanges between research institutions in South Africa and France.
The Programme therefore provides a springboard for initiating, developing and expanding research projects. The Programme was first launched in 1997 and in December 2017 the two countries celebrated its 20th anniversary and agreed, based on the successes that have been achieved in the past 20 years, to continue investing in and supporting the Programme, hence the launch of the 2021 call for funding. Please note that as of 2020, the PROTEA programme call for applications is launched annually.
The Trans-Atlantic Platform (T-AP) for Social Sciences and Humanities is an unprecedented collaboration between humanities and social science research funders from South America, North America and Europe. T-AP aims to enhance the ability of funders, research organizations and researchers to engage in transnational dialogue and collaboration. T-AP works to identify common challenges and promote a culture of collaboration in social science and humanities (SSH) research by offering joint research calls in areas of strong potential for international collaboration. The Platform facilitates the formation of networks within the social sciences and humanities and promotes interdisciplinary. T-AP also strives to heighten awareness of the role the social sciences and humanities play in addressing 21st century challenges.
The main purpose of the Knowledge, Interchange and Collaboration (KIC) funding instrument is to build and maintain excellence in South African research, rather than to only facilitate international collaboration. The promotion of international collaboration through the support of travel opportunities and participation in scientific events, enriched by national learning opportunities and engagements, are important mechanisms towards this goal.
The KIC is a competitive funding instrument established to support the internationalisation of research by giving an opportunity to those researchers that are not eligible for other competitive funding for Rated Researchers such as the South African Research Chairs Initiatives (SARChI) and the Centres of Excellence (CoE) Programme.
The Conference Fund is intended to support the hosting of international conferences focused on excellent scientific research that has potential for socio‐economic impact. This funding platform makes provision for strategic, large events of an international nature, hosted in South Africa, or on behalf of South Africa abroad. The fund will typically support ‘global conferences’ of more than 500 participants. Smaller events can be applied for under the KIC funding instrument of the NRF, published biannually. The overall objectives of this fund are to:
The International Science Council (ISC) is a non-governmental organisation with a unique global membership that brings together about 40 International Scientific Unions and Associations over 140 national and regional scientific organisations including Academies and Research Councils. Its mission is to act as the global voice of science.
The NRF is the National Adhering Organisation the National Adhering Body to ISC. The South African ISC-Secretariat serves the scientific community and the ISC scientific unions and affiliates to which South Africa adheres. The SA ISC Secretariat provides support and organisational services for the ISC National Board of SA, and to the SA ISC National Committees to advance South Africa’s position in international platforms. The total membership of these committees is in excess of 200 scientists. Approximately 100 South Africans serve on ICS-related commissions and working groups.
Future Earth Global was founded in 2015 as an international research program. It aims to be an inclusive global research and engagement platform that seeks to build knowledge about the environmental and human aspects of global change, and to find solutions for sustainable development. The Future Earth Secretariat is constituted of five global hubs (Colorado, Montreal, Paris, Stockholm, Tokyo), and four regional centres based in Cyprus for Middle East and North Africa, Japan for Asia, U.K. for Europe, Uruguay for Caribbean and Latin America. After a competitive bidding process and numerous consultations South Africa through the National Research Foundation (NRF) was selected to host the Secretariat for the Future Earth Regional Office for Southern Africa (FEROSA). FEROSA is the conduit between the Future Earth Global Secretariat and the Southern African region. As such FEROSA’s primary role is to build and connect knowledge to increase the impact of research, to explore new development paths, and to find new ways to accelerate transitions to sustainable development in the Southern African region.
The main aim of Future Earth is to be an inclusive global research and engagement platform in order to build knowledge about the environmental and human aspects of global change, and to find solutions for sustainable development. A basic design principle has been to give voice and influence to expertise and institutions across the globe.
These grants are used for scholarship and research-related activities of current NRF-rated researchers. There is considerable flexibility built into the administration of the funds to allow researchers to use the funds in various ways in keeping their research activities afloat during the occasions when other funding is scarce.
This is a discipline-based funding instrument which supports basic research as the foundation of knowledge production in all disciplines of the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and engineering. It is aimed at providing support for established researchers who may have lost their NRF rating and/or may be unrated but want to re-invigorate their research portfolio for re-evaluation and evaluation, respectively.
Described as multi-dimensional self-initiated, curiosity-driven inquiry that necessitates high investment risks, it addresses new phenomena as well as pushes the frontiers of knowledge. Blue Skies-type of research is associated with fundamental and basic research programmes. The objectives of the Blue Skies funding instrument are:
This instrument promotes and supports research to deepen our understanding of Indigenous Knowledge Systems and its role in community life. Although both applied and basic (i.e., epistemological studies) research is encouraged, it focuses on basic research which may undertake, generate patents and be further developed (i.e. innovation and entrepreneurship). Clear evidence of active participation and equal ownership of IKS practitioners and communities in all research activities is a crucial feature of this instrument.
The KFD directorate also has a mandate to stimulate, develop and facilitate the creation and discovery of new knowledge and associated research capacity across the entire spectrum of knowledge fields. Development grants target knowledge fields that have been neglected in the past, are vulnerable or are new and require some initial support.
Research Development grants for Y-Rated Researchers are ring-fenced, once-off grants and competitive discipline-based funding instrument aimed at enhancing the efficiency of the National Research Foundation (NRF) to drive our transformation consistently and strategically through supporting primarily basic research as the foundation of knowledge production in the disciplines of the Humanities, Social and Natural sciences
New Earth Observation Frontiers (NEOFrontiers) is an innovation funding mechanism established by South African Space Agency (SANSA) in collaboration with the National Research Foundation (NRF). It seeks to stimulate collaboration, cooperation, and innovation in the South African Earth Observation community, both public and private. The NEOFrontiers funding opportunity is envisaged as a collaborative yet competitive funding mechanism for developing capabilities around new sensors, products and services, and value-added components. NEOFrontiers seeks to achieve its objectives by publishing a call for proposals related to:
The National Research Foundation (NRF) in partnership with Department of Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) invites applications from researchers at South African Universities, Science Councils, other NRF Recognised Research Institutions and DALRRD Provincial Research Centres. The RTF aims to contribute to the following strategic goals:
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