EU researchers gain access to South Africa’s research and innovation programmes

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 collection of the information related to the overall research competence in South Africa. The research capacity of South Africa will be identified, as well as the existing S&T programme opportunities managed by South Africa. The advantages for EU participation to South African managed programmes with regards to the further development of research will be highlighted.
  • The information generated will be made widely available to European stakeholders. A first step will be to identify all the relevant European stakeholders in detail, as well as their particular characteristics which need to be acknowledged. A set of high visibility tools will be developed and utilised in an effort to appeal to as many stakeholders as possible on a European level.  Information days and visits are foreseen in different European countries to assure the wide spread of information. In addition, a more personalised and customised approach will be adopted by the provision of direct mentoring and support to potential European applicants which will lead to the improvement of the participation rates of European stakeholders to research and innovation programmes managed by South Africa.     
  • Collection and evaluation of current information regarding EU participation in South African research and innovation programmes. Furthermore, through valuable feedback provision, it will contribute and further foster the policy dialogue within the context of the South African – European Union Joint Science and Technology Committee (JSTCC). The purpose here is to identify the conditions that will encourage/enhance the participation of European researchers to South Africa’s programmes and to and consequently facilitate the reciprocity between Europe and South Africa. In addition the development of synergies with other ongoing projects in the area of ST&I cooperation between SA and EU will be considered. The target here is to benefit from mutual project developments and to exploit opportunities for increased dissemination and awareness raising effectiveness. 

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.

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