As the European economy reels under the need for economic strengthening through investment in R&D, European researchers seem to find their way in accessing South Africa’s (SA) research and innovation programmes to exploit their individual capacities collaboratively in an attempt to generate new knowledge related to fields of mutual interest. Ultimately, research fields of international dimension will benefit through cooperation and will lead to research findings towards sustainable benefits for the public at large.
The above will be pursued through a series of activities taken within the SAccess project whose aim is three-fold. At first it will study thoroughly the South African research and innovation capacity in order to identify the opportunities which arise for research collaboration and suggest the most suitable ways of collaboration based on the availability and attractiveness of the programmes. Secondly, the project will address researchers on a pan-European level and ensure that they are aware both of the above research collaboration opportunities and the specific rules for participation to the programmes. Finally, the project will play a key role in enhancing the research opportunities between Europe and South Africa by providing useful feedback to the South African – European Union Joint Science and Technology Committee (JSTCC), a well established committee for the encouragement and facilitation of cooperation between the European Community and South Africa.
The project is structured around 3 main pillars.
The official launch of the SAccess project took place in South Africa on 10 September 2009, in parallel with the South African Summit on S&T cooperation with Europe and will be running until the end of 2012. The project is a Coordination and Support Action funded under the International Cooperation priority (Access4EU) of the 7th Framework Programme. It is coordinated by HELP-FORWARD Network / FORTH, based in Greece, whilst the remaining partnership includes the Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems (VINNOVA) in Sweden, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) in South Africa, the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) in France, and the Agency for the Promotion of European Research (APRE) in Italy. All European partners have significant experience in innovation and capacity building services and are well networked within Europe, thus justifying a wide reach of the European researchers target group. On the other hand, DST in South Africa satisfies in full the need for access to important information related to the countries research well as funding capacity which can be exploited by the European researchers.