A research proposal developed by the Division for Research Development (DRD) at Stellenbosch University (SU) in response to the European Union (EU)'s Erasmus+ Programme call for "Capacity Development in Higher Education" was recently selected by the EU for funding in the order of R14.7 million (976,665 euro). The proposal was for a project entitled "Strengthening of collaboration, leadership and professionalisation in Research Management (STORM)" which will start early next year.
Dr Therina Theron, Senior Director: Research and Innovation at SU, coordinated the joint proposal to the EU with SU as the lead, involving consortium partners from Bristol University (United Kingdom; UK), Copenhagen University (Denmark), Kaunas University of Technology (Lithuania), the University of the Western Cape, the University of Namibia, the Namibian University of Science and Technology, the University of Botswana, the Botswana College of Distance and Open Learning, as well as the Southern African Research and Innovation Management Association. The Association of Commonwealth Universities, Thompson Reuters Pty Ltd, the European Association for Research Managers and Administrators, and the UK Association for Research Managers and Administrators will also act as associated partners in the project.
Dr Theron says she is very excited about the opportunities that this project offers for staff development and international networking within the DRD, but also for the development of professional Research Managers across the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
"I hope this success also demonstrates to our researchers that we are willing to walk the walk, not just talk the talk when it comes to promoting access to international funding! I believe that the outcomes of the STORM project – which include the development of a post-graduate certificate in research management, the curriculum development of a SADC-based Masters in Research Management, as well as an international accreditation mechanism for research managers in the SADC area – will serve to boost research management capacity in the SADC region and beyond, and through this will be of immense value to strengthen research and innovation at universities and other research institutions in the region."
The DRD provides professional support for applications from SU's research community to the research funding programmes of the EU. The division also actively prepares proposals and manages projects related to its own field of expertise, when such opportunities arise.
This gives DRD staff members the opportunity to go through the complex process of applying to the EU themselves, and manage projects if successful, enabling improved understanding of the EU funding instruments and providing better support to researchers. The projects they become involved in also provide excellent opportunities for staff development within the DRD, and allows for the establishment and strengthening of the division's international research management networks.