R260-million to boost SA’s competitiveness

At least R260-million will be spent this year on research and development to boost the competitiveness of South African industry, the National Research Foundation said on Thursday.

It said about 200 projects had qualified for science and technology research grants ranging from R5 000 to R8-million.

Half of the R260-million was allocated by the government through the Department of Trade and Industry, with the rest of the money coming from industrial companies.

Researchers at higher education institutions and other research organisations compete for these grants through the Technology and Human Resources for Industry Programme (THRIP).

The National Research Foundation (NRF) manages THRIP on behalf of the Trade and Industry Department.

”The amount for this year represents a significant increase on the R140-million allocated last year,” THRIP manager Rob Drennan said in Pretoria.

He said the research was aimed at tackling practical problems experienced by industry.

”The projects cover a wide range of technology areas, including agriculture, bio-processing, food, forestry, health care, materials, mining, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, and power systems.”

NRF vice-president Gerhard von Gruenewaldt said THRIP played a key role in providing skills to combine knowledge, technology and productive activity.

THRIP funds will also be used to train more than 1 800 post-graduate students this year. They included 700 black students and about 550 women.

”The students who benefit from THRIP projects today will be the driving force behind the growth of South African industry in future,” Von Gruenewaldt said. – Sapa

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