Boost for R&D in SA

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Minister Naledi Pandor's Department of Science and Technology will assist companies to contribute to the strategic direction of R&D programmes.
Minister Naledi Pandor's Department of Science and Technology will assist companies to contribute to the strategic direction of R&D programmes.

SA has signed an agreement with the Eurostars-2 programme to ensure companies involved in research and development (R&D) form collaborations with European businesses.

The Department of Science and Technology (DST) announced SA has joined the European Commission's Eurostars-2 programme as a member country.

The agreement will pave the way for much-needed funding and support from companies involved in intensive research, development and innovation in the country, says the DST.

"Being a member assures interested parties [EU researchers wishing to partner with SA] there is national funding dedicated to support successful South African projects," explains the DST.

The DST says no specific funds have been set aside, rather the programme ensures national funders provide funding according to what the member partners need as reflected in their proposals.

"The DST will provide up to 80% of the total required funding for projects that are in line with the national objectives and with clear research, development and innovation output."

Local roadmap

Eurostars is a joint programme co-funded by Eureka and the European Union (EU) Horizon 2020 Framework Programme. Eureka is a network that develops cooperation between SMEs, research centres and universities for industrial innovation.

The Eurostars-2 programme aims to promote and support the participation of R&D performing companies in transnational research with a strong focus on job creation, economic growth and competiveness.

In terms of the agreement, the Eurostars-2 programme will assist the DST to attain its target of increasing the number of South African and European companies jointly implementing R&D projects and participating in EU funding research programmes.

SA's government has recognised the role of R&D in addressing the country's development challenges and is actively investing in R&D and innovation.

To drive investment in R&D, the DST set-up an ICT innovation strategy that is being implemented by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research's Meraka Institute.

The aim of the strategy is to catalyse the development of an innovative, sustainable and indigenous IT industry that addresses a significant portion of SA's IT needs.

According to the DST, the Eurostars-2 programme will be implemented with the involvement of the Technology Innovation Agency and the Council for Industrial and Scientific Research.

"The programme supports projects for a maximum duration of three years, with the research outputs ready for commercialisation within two years after the project has been completed. As a member country, South Africa will also get an opportunity to nominate up to five candidates to evaluate the projects," says the DST.

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