Launch of International Science Partnership Fund to support UK-South Africa science and research collaboration

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The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, welcomed the announcement that the United Kingdom would make an investment of up to R1 billion over the next two years in a new International Science Partnerships Fund for science and technology collaboration between South Africa and the UK.

The announcement was made at a reception hosted by the UK High Commissioner on 22 January for the Duke of Edinburgh's visit to South Africa.

Addressing the reception, Minister Nzimande said that the fund would support the building of institutional and human capacity development in South Africa, enabling the country to fulfil its potential. 

"It puts research and innovation at the heart of our international relationships, supporting UK researchers and innovators to work with peers around the world on the major themes of our time – the planet, health, technology and talent," said the Minister.

The Minister said that the cooperation planned under the fund was strategically aligned with the priorities of South Africa's Science, Technology and Innovation Decadal Plan and its National Plan for Post-School Education and Training.

"I am especially excited about the plans for a new joint research chair in the field of digital humanities, as the use of digital resources in the social sciences will be critical for the success of our response to societal challenges such as understanding the future of society within the context of technology disruption," said Nzimande.

He also expressed his appreciation that the fund would help to support the Square Kilometre Array Observatory global partnership by developing skills for radio astronomy in Africa.

The fund is managed by the UK's Department for Science, Innovation and Technology and implemented by a consortium of the UK's leading research and innovation bodies, which includes UK Research and Innovation (comprising the UK's seven research councils, Innovate UK and Research England), the UK Academies, the British Council, the Meteorological Office, the National Physical Laboratory, the UK Atomic Energy Authority and Universities UK International.

The UK High Commissioner to South Africa, Antony Phillipson, said that partnerships were important in tackling global challenges.

"Rapid, equitable progress against global challenges such as climate change or towards the Sustainable Development Goals cannot be achieved without collaboration on science, research, technology and innovation.

"We need to come together to share expertise and experience, which is why we are grateful for the close partnership we have with the Department of Science and Innovation and Minister Nzimande himself, and all the partners here tonight. We look forward to continuing to work together, to amplify the impacts of our science partnerships together over the months and years ahead," said Phillipson.

South Africa will make similar investments in the fund, and its Department of Science and Innovation and Department of Higher Education and Training will both work with their counterparts in the UK to co-design and co-fund programmes to be implemented with the support of the fund.

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Issued by the Department of Science and Innovation.

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