Berenice Lue Marais, CSIR Strategic Alliances Manager who is also WAITRO Regional Focal Point for Africa representative, chairing WAITRO workshop.
Prof Chi Renyong, Director at Zhejiang University of Technology’s Institute of Small and Medium Business.
Research and development (R&D) funding opportunities through the European Union (EU) 'Framework programmes' (FPs) were at the top of the agenda at the World Association of Industrial and Technological Research Organisations (WAITRO) Africa Regional and Sub-regional Focal Point workshop held in early May this year.
The three-day workshop was hosted by CSIR Strategic Alliances Manager, Berenice Lue Marais, who is also WAITRO Regional Focal Point for Africa representative. “FP is a key tool through which the EU supports R&D activities covering almost all scientific disciplines,” she explained.
Lue Marais added that the focus of the May workshop stemmed from the March WAITRO plenary session where delegates identified access to funding opportunities for Africa consortia as a key issue that needed to be addressed.
Danish Technology Institute Chief Consultant for the Framework Programme (FP), Moses Mengu, and Regional Focal Point for Europe, Dr Eckart Bierduempel, aided WAITRO members in identifying appropriate sources of funding for R&D cooperation relevant to Africa; and discussed the proposal application process during the workshop.
Mengu said, “This synergy is important because funding through traditional donors (national and international) for individual applicants has become more and more difficult to come by, but funding through inter-governmental and multi-lateral agreements is becoming more and more popular.
“The focus should be shifted to more competitive funding models through various EU R&D funding schemes, and regional and national funding programmes that allow the establishment of African consortia, which undertakes contracts and consultancies for projects and programmes under the World Bank, Europe Aid, etc.”
He added that to ensure that proposals are successful, collaboration teams should identify partners for projects; ensure that projects address EU concerns; and get an EU industry partner on board.
The delegates under the leadership of Mengu and Bierduempel worked feverishly on project proposals under the health, environment (including climate change) and food themes.
CSIR Biosciences industrial biologics researcher, Dr Daniel Visser, says that the workshop served as an excellent platform to identify the region’s needs and possible areas of collaboration.
African Laser Centre Manager: Dr Paul Motalane, WAITRO Secretary-General: Dr Rohani Hashim, Danish Technology Institute Chief Consultant for the Framework Programme (FP): Moses Mengu, Zhejiang University of Technology’s Institute of Small and Medium Business Director: Prof Chi Renyong and CSIR National Laser Centre Manager: Dr Ndumiso Cingo.
“I am particularly interested in how we will take the ideas discussed at the workshop forward and how to access EU funding,” says Visser.
Delegates were also treated to a number of presentations by heads of research and technology institutes including an in-depth look at how China has successfully managed to use R&D to boost small and medium enterprises (SMEs) during the research, development and innovation session.
Zhejiang University of Technology’s Institute of Small and Medium Business Director, Prof Chi Renyong, explained in his presentation titled: “Leveraging R&D for national benefit” that SMEs contributes 70% of total production and employment in China.
He said, “Most SMEs use the innovation network and this allows small businesses to increase performance and reduce costs. The innovation network comprises two aspects: the market pull and the technology push. The market pull applies when an entrepreneur is being sensitive to the markets needs and identifies a gap in the market. The entrepreneur then goes to the research institution for help in developing the product. The technology push applies when a scientist identifies new technology and then transfers it to SMEs.”
Renyong highlighted that this relationship ensures products that are developed in R&D go to the market.
The CSIR and UIRI partnership another WAITRO success
The CSIR and Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI) signed a project-specific agreement at the WAITRO Africa Regional and Sub-regional Focal Point workshop held from 16 to 18 May 2012. This came after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 21 January 2011 by CSIR CEO, Dr Sibusiso Sibisi, and UIRI Executive Director, Prof Kwesiga at the Presidential Guest House in Pretoria. The signing was observed by Presidents Jacob Zuma of South Africa and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda.
Lue Marais explained that because of this Memorandum of Understanding signing, CSIR Enterprise Creation for Development (ECD) is now looking at establishing incubation businesses in Uganda and Trinidad and Tobago.
“WAITRO has a good record of collaboration among African countries and the partnerships have resulted in the building of technology and ICT capabilities,” said Mengu.
News supplied by Ms Berenice Lue Marais, Strategic Alliances.
03 July 2012