SA, UK partner to support science, innovation


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Pretoria – South Africa and the United Kingdom on Tuesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding committing to support science, technology and innovation in the two countries.

Following the signing of the agreement, the two countries have jointly committed R140 million per year under the Newton Fund.

“The SA-UK Newton Fund will bring together contributions from both sides to support science, technology and innovation creating a catalyst to stimulate socio-economic development in South Africa and more widely across sub-Saharan Africa,” the Department of Science and Technology said in a statement.

The department said both countries are looking forward to working closely with other African countries.

The Fund will support projects in the thematic areas of public health, environment and food security. It will also support science and technology capacity building with a focus on seeking to ensure that activities have a regional footprint with the ultimate aim of encouraging research that boosts jobs and growth.

Signing the agreement on behalf of the South African government in Cape Town, Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor welcomed the cooperation, saying the two countries enjoyed strong bilateral relations in various areas.

Minister Pandor thanked both the South African and the UK officials who contributed to the achievement that led to the signing of the agreement.

“Thanks to the hard work and commitment shown by both our countries. Before the end of the year, South African scientists will be able to access the Newton Fund resources to support their cooperation.

“We have heard a number of exciting testimonies of the cooperation initiatives planned under the South Africa-UK Newton Fund collaboration,” she said.

According to Minister Pandor, plans for the Newton Fund cooperation were discussed with the then Minister of State for Universities and Science, David Willets, at the meeting of Science Ministers in the United Kingdom in May this year.

Minister Pandor highlighted the importance of the Fund, saying it would focus on prioritising human capital development, focus on active involvement of industry to ensure science, technology and innovation investments contribute to economic growth and employment creation.

Signing on behalf of the UK government, Minister of State for Africa in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, James Duddridge, said they are committed to working with South Africa.

“We look forward to addressing challenges and poverty. We will be working with colleagues in South Africa,” he said.

Medical research councils of both countries also announced three-year partnerships to collaborate on research projects in the areas of tuberculosis and non-communicable diseases.

The Newton Fund is part of the UK’s official development assistance. Its aim is to develop science and innovation partnerships that promote the economic development and welfare of developing countries.