NRF CEO Dr Nelwamondo has fruitful meeting with DVCs

NRF CEO Dr Nelwamondo has fruitful meeting with DVCs

The National Research Foundation-University Research Support Forum took place on Friday, 13 October at the NRF’s Albert Luthuli Auditorium in Pretoria. Chief Executive Officer, Dr Fulufhelo Nelwamondo, led the NRF team that hosted Deputy Vice-Chancellors from the country’s 26 universities.

The parties discussed issues of mutual interest for the benefit of the country’s science and innovation system, delving into topics which included the leverage of resources to support human capital development, research and innovation for the system; the support of Historically Disadvantaged Institutions and Universities of Technology; showcasing the impact of the system in a coordinated way; mentorship of the next generation of researchers; and support for commercialisation and innovation.

Dr Nelwamondo delivered both the opening and closing addresses. He stressed that the country’s science system faced various constraints and, therefore had no choice but to do the most with the limited resources it had. He pointed out that local institutions were in a financially constrained environment compared to a number of their counterparts in Commonwealth countries, which spent up to 2% of their GDP on research.

The local science system has a greater challenge to ensure its output is generally impactful to society, said Dr Nelwamondo. “We have serious challenges in terms of how we ensure that, with these limited resources, we make a huge impact and manage to achieve much more. It’s a question of how we can achieve much more with the little that we have.”

The system also had to find sustainable means to attract investments. Added Dr Nelwamondo, “This (constrained environment) requires us to garner the support of those entities that are not funding research to bring funds into research. We need to work together to address the challenges that we have. I have set a very high and ambitious target for the NRF to double the money under its control, not for the NRF itself but for the system in which it operates. It’s a question of how we get more money into the science system.”

Commercialisation and innovation provided new opportunities for the system, said Dr Nelwamondo. It is a matter of turning the good science happening at institutions into products able to penetrate the market, he added. “It might not be now. It could be four years, or ten years – it matters not, but let’s have that mindset of creating sustainability.”

In conclusion, Dr Nelwamondo said he hoped that Friday’s meeting was just the beginning of the conversation within the system about impact and sustainability. “I don’t think it’s a choice now for us to have this conversation. I think we should find ways of getting more time for us to engage. There’s quite a number of good things that are happening in the NRF and in the system. We have to find ways to coordinate and make sure that we can get much more from the little that we have,” he added.

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