The objective of the National Research Foundation (NRF) is to support and promote research through funding, human resource development and the provision of the necessary research facilities, in order to facilitate the creation of knowledge, innovation and development in all fields of the natural and social sciences, humanities and technology.
The NRF has wide range of funding opportunities. These are listed below.
i) Institutional Research Development Programme (IRDP).
The Institutional Research Development Programme (IRDP) seeks to partner the higher education institutions in the development and enhancement of their research culture, environment, ethos and practice to become world class African universities in order to deliver in numbers and quality the skills required by the national system of innovation.
Currently the Vaal University of Technology has two approved Research Niche Areas (RNA’s) participating in the IRDP (2007-2011).
Addressing Household Food Insecurity and Malnutrition in an Urban Area (Contact person: Prof. Wilna Oldewagen-Theron (Tel: 016 650 9722)
Fuel Cell Electricity Generation Utilizing Hydrogen, Methanol and other Fuels(Contact person: Prof. Christo Pienaar (Tel: 016 950 9381)
Proposed research must align with approved RNA’s
A research capacity building initiative aimed to develop and advance research capacity of the individual researchers from the designated research communities. The three sub-programmes are:
Women in Research. Applicant must be a woman researcher with a Doctoral degree.
Researchers in Training. To develop entry-level South African researchers are required to obtain a Doctoral degree, and subsequently be in a position to participate in other NRF funding streams with established researchers on a competitive basis. Applicant must have a Masters degree and must register for a PhD.
Research Development Initiative for Black Academics (REDIBA). To support South African Black (African, Coloured, Indian) male researchers with Doctoral degrees in the advancement of their research careers, for positions of scientific and academic leadership.
iii) THRIP (Technology and Human Resource for Industry Programme).
The Programme aims to improve the competitiveness of South African industry, by supporting research and technology development activities and by enhancing the quantity and quality of appropriately skilled people.
Applicant must have a PhD, a four or more year track record of research that is excellent and sustained and/or clearly on an upward trajectory, have a track record in supervising postgraduate students, have a record of being able to obtain external funding, reside full time in South Africa for the duration of the Research Chair award.
Applicants must have a strong network of collaborators and fellow researchers working in similar and different but related research fields. The network must span departments, schools, institutions and have excellent extended track records in research outputs.
vi) International Co-operation Research Grants
The applicants must have a research collaborator in the country which is a signatory to the bi-national (or bilateral – NRF and funding agency in another country) agreement. The applicant must have a PhD degree.
vii) Knowledge Interchange and Collaboration (KIC)
Travel Grants. Travel by researchers employed by South African Higher Education Institutions to conferences, workshops etc. This investment area is divided into categories:
Young and developing researchers.
Invited visiting scientists and keynote speaker
Events Support. The support of research orientated meetings, such as conferences.
The budget set aside for the programme is divided into three equal portions and deployed accordingly: January, May and September.
This is a unique collaborative research programme that is financed by the Netherlands. SANPAD funds high quality, collaborative research by South African researchers in partnership with Dutch researchers relating to the following research themes:
New approaches to Economic Development
Social and Human Development
Natural Resources and their Governance
Politics, Governance, State and Society
Identities, Cultures and Societies
Science and Technology for Social Development
SANPAD supports research projects that have a social development, policy-related content. These projects may be multi-disciplinary and cross-thematic, and may have a special focus on poverty reduction. Details of the grant application process are available on.
The WRC’s mandate is to support water research and development as well as the building of a sustainable water research capacity in South Africa. The WRC serves as the country’s water-centred knowledge ‘hub’ leading the creation, dissemination and application of water-centred knowledge, focusing on water resource management, water-linked ecosystems, water use and waste management and water utilisation in agriculture.
The MRC offers a number of grants for research, travel, research capacity development and research training.
The ARC’s vision reflects its core business and celebrates its unique role, acknowledging its position as the principal agricultural research institution in South Africa. The vision highlights the need to harness ARC capabilities to ensure that it becomes an organization known for its excellence in its core area of business.
SANERI’s strapline is “Energy Innovation for Life”. The company strives to create and maintain a culture of innovation in the energy sector, to help develop South Africa’s competitiveness internationally. SANERI is tasked with developing human capital in the energy research sector and also with funding fundamental and applied research in specified thematic areas. These areas relate to:
Energy Infrastructure Optimisation
Energy Efficiency and Demand Side Management
Cleaner Fossil Fuels
Stimulating Socio-economic Development through the Productive Use of Energy
Alternative Energy (mainly Fuel Cells and the Hydrogen Economy)
Understanding the Impact of Energy Use on the Environment
Energy Modeling and Planning
Energy Policy Research
Research in the public interest is supported by SANERI and the company solicits work from any reputable service provider, either universities or private sector. There is significant focus placed on cooperation and collaborative project development.
Provides support to young scientists of merit in developing countries by awarding research grants and providing grantees with additional services such as travel grants and purchasing assistance. The IFS supports research related to the renewable utilisation of biological resources in areas such as crop and animal production, forestry, food science, natural products, and fisheries, as well as research on sustainable utilisation and conservation of natural ecosystems, including themes such as water and biodiversity. Proposals for projects may address biological, chemical, or physical processes as well as social and economic relationships important in the conservation, production and renewable utilisation of biological resource base.
Postgraduate Training Fellowships for Women Scientists in Sub-Saharan Africa or Least Developed Countries (LDC) at Centres of Excellence in the South. Fellowships are available for female students in Sub-Saharan Africa or LDC who wish to pursue postgraduate training leading to a doctorate degree at a Centre of Excellence in the South outside their own country.
Currently the award grants are in six core program areas:
Higher Education and Scholarship
Research in Information Technology
Museums and Art Conservation
Conservation and the Environment
The African Union Commission is seeking proposals for research focusing on the following thematic priorities articulated in Africa’s Science and Technology Consolidated Plan of Action (CPA) and its Lighthouse Projects: (a) Post-harvest and Agriculture, (b) Renewable and Sustainable Energy, and (c) Water and Sanitation in Africa. The programme is financed through the Financing Agreement between the European Commission and the ACP Group of States under the ACP Research for Sustainable Development Program of the 10th EDF Intra-ACP Envelop.
The full Guidelines for Applicants, Application form and other supporting documents are available on website.