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Source: South Africa News Agency

Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, says the department of Science and Innovation (DSI) continues to work to foster international partnerships to bolster the South African and African ability to respond to COVID-19. 

“Our National Research Foundation (NRF) with its partners in Canada, Sweden and the United Kingdom launched the Africa Rapid Grant Fund to support research and science capacity-building in African countries to fight COVID-19. 

“This put into practice the commitment made by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the recent Coronavirus Global Response international pledging event for South Africa to invest in such international partnerships,” Nzimande said.

Nzimande was speaking at a media briefing on further measures implemented on COVID-19 within the Higher Education, Science and Innovation sectors.

Close to R75m support from international partners

The Minister announced that the DSI and the NRF have been successful to leverage close to R75 million in funding from international partners, including Canada, Sweden and the UK, to supplement a South African investment of R15 million. 

“This will mean the Fund has a total budget of approximately R90 million to fund COVID-19 initiatives in South Africa and 16 other African countries. The activities to be funded include COVID-19 research, as well as capacity-building for science communication (support to journalists) and science advice to governments in Africa,” Nzimande said.

It is envisaged that projects supported by the Fund will start no later than August 2020 to ensure a rapid response, Nzimande added.

More than two-third businesses are innovation active

Meanwhile, a report on the latest Business Innovation Survey (BIS) has showed that more than two-thirds (69.9%) of South African businesses are innovation active.

The report released by Nzimande was undertaken in 2019 and covering 2014-2016 period.

Nzimande noted that the report was released at a time when businesses are being forced to become innovative in order to survive the current unusual circumstances created by COVID-19.

“I must say that I have come across some amazing innovations by South African businesses. The reason why I have appointed an industrial envoy is so that we can strengthen the relationship between government and the private sector in driving more innovation in South Africa, including increased investment by both the public and private sectors in research and development,” Nzimande said.

Nzimande urged all role players to read the report whose full details can be found on the department’s website. – SAnews.gov.za

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