Research and innovation remain important instruments for enhancing competitiveness, accelerating growth and promoting equitable growth within the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and globally, said Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor.

Minister Pandor attended the 4th BRICS Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Ministerial Meeting in Jaipur, India, over the weekend. The Jaipur meeting followed successful negotiations on the BRICS Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Cooperation in STI at the first Ministerial Meeting hosted in South Africa in 2014, the MoU was signed in Brazil in March 2015,with a work plan being adopted at the Moscow meeting in October 2015.

The weekend’s meeting adopted the Jaipur Declaration, which will be reported to the forthcoming BRICS Summit taking place this week in Goa. "The Jaipur Declaration adopted at the meeting encapsulates an ambitious action plan for cooperation aligned with the BRICS 2016 vision for the BRICS nations to unite in developing responsive, inclusive and collective responses to society¹s challenges," said Minister Pandor.

BRICS Ministers of Science and Technology lauded the outstanding progress in BRICS cooperation since their last gathering in 2015. This included the launch of a comprehensive framework programme for funding research and innovation partnerships between the BRICS countries. The first call for proposals under this programme attracted close to 400 proposals in areas such as advanced materials, nanotechnology and the life sciences.

"I would like to emphasise the impact of the first pilot calls under the BRICS framework programme for multilateral cooperation in research and innovation. It is, to quote an often used expression these days, a game changer in the field of international science and technology partnerships. What we have achieved in a less than a year, other partnerships have taken decades to construct. The overwhelming response from our research and innovation communities to opportunities for cooperation provided under the programme should encourage us to build on this success and to implement an ambitious second call without delay," said Minister Pandor.

Under South Africa's leadership a dedicated plan for BRICS astronomy cooperation has also been developed. Minister Pandor briefed her counterparts on science and technology developments in South Africa, including the development of the Africa Data Intensive Research Cloud, which attracted significant interest.

Minister Pandor also emphasised the strategic importance of the proposed BRICS science and technology enterprise partnership. The BRICS partnership enterprise will focus on STI on accelerating economic growth, providing an enabling framework to achieve this objective.

Science and technology ministers will again meet in China in 2017.