SA, EU launch science programme

30 June 2005

One of South Africa’s most strategic partnerships in international science and technology, that with the European Union, has been significantly boosted with the launch of the European-South African Science and Technology Advancement Programme (Esastap).

The programme, to be implemented by South Africa’s Department of Science and Technology with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research as an implementation partner, will be supported by the European Commission under its Sixth Framework Programme.

While South African researchers have participated in more than 50 Sixth Framework Programme projects, both South Africa and the EU believe that there is scope to increase SA’s participation.

A key objective of the Esastap programme to promote research mobility between SA and Europe, both to attract skilled European researchers to work in South Africa and to enable SA researchers to gain experience working in top European facilities.

Esastap will disseminate information on cooperation opportunities, support South African participants in Sixth Framework Programme projects, and market South African science and technology excellence in Europe.

The Esastap website will offer interactive partner-search facilities, as well as publish success stories of SA-EU science and technology cooperation and the results of Framework Programme participation.

Speaking at the Esastap launch, Science and Technology director-general Rob Adam said that for South Africa to sustain scientific excellence it was critical to strengthen the country’s connectedness to global research.

“The greatest benefits leveraged through South African participation in research consortia funded by the EU Framework Programmes do not lie in securing funding,” Adam said.

“Instead, these benefits accrue in the experience gained through collaboration with leading international scientists, and in sharing the rich results of joint knowledge generation.”

Adam said a critical mass in science collaboration would enable South African and European scientists to anticipate future science and technology needs and to resolve major global issues.

While South Africa was stepping up its own investment in science and technology, it remained important to leverage co-investments such as Framework Programme funding, Adam said. reporter

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