Stellenbosch University
Welcome to Stellenbosch University
SU’s involvement in Africa-Europe Clusters of Research Excellence is a research milestone
Author: Corporate Communication & Marketing / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie & Bemarking [Anél Lewis]
Published: 13/10/2023

​​​Stellenbosch University (SU) earlier this month celebrated its co-leadership of four of the 17 joint Africa-Europe Clusters of Research Excellence (CoRE), established through the collaborative efforts of the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) and The Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities (The Guild), as an important milestone in the pursuit of equitable research.

Speaking at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS) at an event attended virtually and in person by representatives of participating institutions from around the world, Prof Wim de Villiers, SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor, said: “At its core, this initiative holds the noble objective of revolutionising collaborative research by placing equity at the forefront. Equity serves as the bedrock upon which we build outstanding and impactful research that addresses the pressing challenges of our shared society."

De Villiers explained that Stellenbosch University will lead or co-lead the following CoRE clusters:

  • Addressing Global and African Challenges through Methods from Artificial Intelligence, Data Science, and Theoretical and Computational Thinking:

SU, alongside colleagues from Uppsala University, will direct its focus towards innovation and technology. Its aim is to harness the transformative potential of AI, data science, and theoretical and computational thinking to tackle critical global and African challenges in healthcare, education, agriculture, energy, and infrastructure. This collaboration will draw upon expertise from a diverse range of fields, including computer science, engineering, mathematics, physics, and social sciences.

  • Genomics for Health in Africa:

With colleagues from the University of Bern in Switzerland and the University of Tubingen in Germany, SU will place a spotlight on public health. It will specifically target rare diseases, rare cancers, pandemic preparedness, and infectious diseases, with a dedicated focus on enhancing health outcomes across the African continent.

  • Nature-based Solutions for Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation:

Co-led by the University of Bologna, the University of Cape Town and SU's School for Climate Studies, this cluster sets its sights on global and intercontinental challenges within the Green Transition category. It seeks to advance transdisciplinary approaches to address the intertwined challenges of climate change and biodiversity. In doing so, it aligns with the priorities of the Sustainable Development Goals.

  • Renewable Energy:

Co-led by SU and Ghent University in Belgium, this CoRE cluster is dedicated to the development of renewable energy technology, fostering equitable societal transition, and promoting sustainable education and training. Building upon SU's recognition as an ARUA Centre of Excellence, this cluster aspires to make substantial contributions to solving one of society's most pressing needs – the energy challenges confronting both Africa and Europe.

Furthermore, SU proudly serves as a valued partner in the Africa-Europe CoRE cluster for Multimorbidity. In this capacity, the University harnesses the potential of digital technology and artificial intelligence to enhance diagnostics, safety, and interventions for the prevention, treatment, and control of multimorbidity in sub-Saharan Africa.

First of its kind

Prof Jan Palmowski, Guild lead on Africa-Europe CoRE, hailed the initiative as the first practical application of collaboration by the Guild. “This marks a global first (for long-term research collaboration) across continents." He praised SU's leadership for its commitment to the project and underscored the “extraordinary" quality of the researchers involved.

Prof Sibusiso Moyo, SU's Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Studies, described the collaboration as “an opportunity to train the next generation of scientists".

The CoRE clusters will not only allow for intercontinental and cross-institutional research, but will also allow for collaboration, within institutions, explained Prof Tulio De Oliveira, Director of Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation (CERI), and School for Data Science and Computational Thinking.

De Oliveira and Prof Shahida Moosa, Head of Medical Genetics, SU, and Tygerberg Hospital, will co-lead the Africa-Europe CoRE cluster for Genomics for Health in Africa. This cluster, as an example, can work with Prof Guy Midgley, Director of SU's School for Climate Studies, on the impact of climate on genetic diseases as part of the work being done by the Africa-Europe CoRE cluster for Nature-based Solutions for Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation.

“Through internationalisation, in collaboration with The Guild, we extend our reach across Africa and the world, enabling us to tap into a diverse pool of resources and significantly contribute to skills development on our continent," the Rector concluded. “If we get universities to work together, we can get things done."

​Photo: Prof Tulio de Oliveira and Prof Shahida Moosa at the event hosted at STIAS.  

Bjorn Groenewald of SCPS Photos