About Strategic Partnerships

About Strategic Partnerships

The NRF is considered in its approach to partnerships, where quality and depth, as well as intended outcomes are determining factors in the establishment and sustainability of partnerships. The NRF Strategic Partnership Strategy directs the organisation away from ad hoc approaches, towards approaches that enable specific, effective interventions.

Partnership Modalities

The shift towards a more intentional approach to partnerships requires the NRF to select partners based on an informed rationale and to address a specific purpose or need, in line with Vision 2030. Specific modalities for each partnership need to be tailored and directed towards targets within one or more of the focus areas.

People - A key modality for building the capacities of a transformed scientific workforce is being revived through the newly conceptualised Global Knowledge Partnerships (GKP) Programme that provides a 6 to 18 month international exposure opportunity to Early Career Researchers (ECRs), PhD students and postdoctoral fellows as a core strategy to meet the NRF’s goal of an internationally competitive, transformed and representative research system. In additional, enhanced partnerships with Industry offers high potential for building capacity as articulated in the NRF Industry Partnership Strategy. Whilst both of these approaches are primarily focussed on partnerships for human capacity development and skills transfer, they both draw on a diverse set of partnerships to leverage additionality to operationalise the initiatives.

Strategic Partnerships

Objectives

Contribute to the creation of networks and partnerships

Strategic global, regional and national collaboration and partnerships are significant in driving science, technology and innovation (STI) endeavours, especially in a global environment that is continuously facing common developmental challenges. For publicly funded science granting councils (SGC), this environment presents opportunities to engage in bi- and multilateral strategic, directed alliances and engagements to leverage resources, and internationalise national research platforms. South Africa and the continent’s SGCs will continue to benefit from the existence of partnerships such as the Global Research Council (GRC) and the Science Granting Council Initiative (SGCI) in Sub-Saharan Africa as a broker of these engagements.

The SGCI is a multi-funder initiative that aims to strengthen the capacities of 16 science granting councils in sub-Saharan Africa in order to support research and evidence-based policies that will contribute to economic and social development. The SGCI contributes to strengthening the ability of science granting councils to: manage research; design and monitoring of research programmes based on the use of robust science, technology and innovation (STI) indicators; support knowledge exchange with the private sector; and strengthen partnerships between Science Granting Councils and other science system actors. The Initiative is being implemented in two (2) phases: SGCI-1 (2015-2020) and SGCI-2 (2018-2023). In addition to deepening the implementation of the four (4) objectives above-outlined, two (2) cross-cutting themes will be implemented in SGCI-2, namely; research excellence and gender and inclusivity.

  • Click HERE for more information on the SGCI.

The ORTARChI first announced in December 2017 and officially launched in December 2018 combine political, development and higher education objectives. The initiative aims to honour a leading figure in the development of African unity, have a catalytic impact on the development of research infrastructure in recipient countries, and contribute to knowledge production and high-end skills in alignment with the African Union Agenda 2063 and the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA 2024). Click HERE for more information on the ORTARCI.

This pan-African endeavour aims to position African scientists at the cutting edge of data intensive science by stimulating interactivity and creating opportunity through the development of efficiencies of scale, the creation of critical mass through shared capacities, and amplifying impact through a commonality of purpose and voice.

  • Click HERE for more information on the AOSP.

Unlock other international research and innovation funding opportunities

The IDRC funds research in developing countries to promote growth, reduce poverty and drive large-scale positive change. The South Africa–Canada Research Chairs Initiative is jointly funded by the IDRC and the NRF, and seeks to invest in the development of research in sub-Saharan Africa through the establishment of tri-lateral partnerships involving researchers from Canada, South Africa and another sub-Saharan African country. The IDRC is also a core funding partner, with the NRF and others, of the Science Granting Council’s Initiative in sub-Saharan Africa (SGCI), and the OR Tambo Africa Research Chairs Initiative.

Click HERE for information on the IDRC.

This two-year project is funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and is implemented (and is co-funded) by the NRF in collaboration with the Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. The objective of this two-year programme is to identify, analyse, document and share the key lessons learned from the Corporation’s investment in postdoctoral fellowships in Africa through a collaborative, participatory peer-learning approach, and to document and investigate partnership models for postdoctoral fellowship in Africa.

Click HERE for information on PERKA.

Contribute to policy and institutional transformations

The Newton Fund uses science and innovation partnerships to promote economic development and social welfare of partner countries, through collaboration between those countries and UK delivery partners. The UK-South Africa Newton Fund partnership is administered by DSI and the UK’s Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, and based on a matching funding (co-investment) model. The NRF is one of a core group of South African Delivery Partners who co-designs programmes, develop and facilitate calls, and allocate and manage funding.

Click HERE for more information on Newton.

The purpose of the GKP programme is to integrate and incorporate a 6 to 18 month international experience opportunity into the research and education programme of exceptional PhD students, postdoctoral fellows, and early career researchers (ECR) who are funded by the NRF.

The GKP Strategy is available HERE.

This strategy aims to, in close collaboration with industry partners, accelerate the co-creation of knowledge for i) impact of knowledge products, and ii) skills development supported by the organisation, to the broader society. It is recognised that in order to optimally fulfil this mandate, the NRF must engage with industry, from both the public and private sector, which brings resources and experiences beyond the scope of the academic realm.

Click HERE to access the Strategy.

Support and facilitate South Africa’s engagement in the global science system

The NRF maintains membership of many global organisations and contributes and adheres to membership outcomes. For example, as a participant in the Global Research Council opportunities are presented for African Science Granting Councils (SCGs) to contribute to the collective shaping of principles on effective and efficient implementation of SGC national mandates in an increasingly trans-boundary world.

This two-year project is funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and is implemented (and is co-funded) by the NRF in collaboration with the Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. The objective of this two-year programme is to identify, analyse, document and share the key lessons learned from the Corporation’s investment in postdoctoral fellowships in Africa through a collaborative, participatory peer-learning approach, and to document and investigate partnership models for postdoctoral fellowship in Africa.

  • Click HERE for information on PERKA.

IIASA conducts policy-oriented research into problems of a global nature that are too large or too complex to be solved by a single country or academic discipline. Since joining the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in 2007 as a National Member Organisation (NMO), South Africa has developed a range of collaborative research and capacity building initiatives through support from the NRF, the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), IIASA, the British Council and national universities.

  • The Southern African Systems Analysis Centre (SASAC) is an initiative aimed at strengthening systems analysis capacity in South Africa. This model takes cognisance of additional and multi-level systems analysis capacity interventions, and a comprehensive approach to policy related activities in South- and Southern Africa. SASAC dedicates three-year bursaries for South African PhD students based at South African universities to complete their studies with a supervisor from South Africa experienced in systems analysis and a co-supervisor associated with IIASA.
  • Click HERE for more information on SASAC.
  • Click HEREfor more information on IIASA and South Africa’s membership of IIASA.

The Belmont Forum is a partnership of funding organisations, international science councils, and regional consortia committed to the advancement of inter- and transdisciplinary science.

  • South Africa’s engagement with the Belmont Forum is managed by the NRF.
  • The NRF is a member of the Collaborative Research Action (CRA) on Transdisciplinary Research for Ocean Sustainability. This multinational programme funds collaborative multinational projects that address Ocean Sustainability.
  • Click HERE for more information on the Belmont Forum.

The NRF is a founding member of the inaugural consortium of national research funding agencies, philanthropic foundations and development aid agencies from around the world in support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Forum of Funders. The Global Forum of Funders provide a unique opportunity for leaders from different funding communities to inter alia develop a shared vision of the integrated challenges of global sustainability and to pro-actively engage in joint responses to the urgency of accelerating the impact of investments for the achievement of the SDGs.

The NRF also represent 16 other councils from the African Continent by virtue of the Science Granting Councils Initiative in sub-Saharan Africa (SGCI).

  • Click HERE for the first output from the Forum.

The ISC was created in 2018 as the result of a merger between the International Council for Science (ICSU) and the International Social Science Council (ISSC), with the aim of advancing the creativity, rigour and relevance of science worldwide. It creates a unified, global voice of science, with a powerful presence in all regions of the world and representation across the natural (including physical, mathematical and life) and social (including behavioural and economic) sciences.

  • Click HERE for more information on the ISC.
  • South Africa’s adherence to the ISC is managed by the NRF and the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), in collaboration with the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI).
  • There are approximately 30 South African National Committees/Unions affiliated to ISC, and more than 200 South African scientists are engaged globally, many with prominent leadership roles on the ISC governing structures.
  • Click HERE for more information on ISC-SA.