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DSI, NRF bridge gap between academia, public policymaking DSI, NRF bridge gap between academia, public policymaking
To enhance collaboration between academia and Government, the National Research Foundation (NRF) and the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) launched the pilot phase... DSI, NRF bridge gap between academia, public policymaking

To enhance collaboration between academia and Government, the National Research Foundation (NRF) and the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) launched the pilot phase of its DSI-NRF Policy Placement Postdoctoral Fellowship Programme.

This initiative is designed to bridge the gap between research and public policymaking, thus addressing societal challenges through evidence-based approaches.

In today’s complex world, the role of research in shaping public policy cannot be overstated. The DSI-NRF Policy Placement Postdoctoral Fellowship Programme recognises this imperative and seeks to empower outstanding researchers and academics to contribute directly to Government institutions. This will allow the academics to play a pivotal role in informing policy-making processes.

“The NRF and DSI are committed to driving national development through research initiatives that have a tangible impact on society,” says Dr Thandi Mgwebi, Group Executive: Business Advancement at the NRF.

“By creating opportunities for collaboration between academia and Government, we aim to enhance the capacity of researchers in public policymaking while ensuring that investments in research culminate in impactful policies.”

Imraan Patel, Deputy Director-General: Research Development and Support at DSI states: “This programme fills two very important gaps: one in which we have PhD graduates who have a lot of insight and ways of thinking that can be used by the policy environment effectively, but which cannot be extracted, and the other in the policy environment where we have the need for deep insight into what is happening, what does the available evidence tell us, for example. This postdoctoral policy Fellowship brings together those two needs into what I think is going to be an exciting and innovative programme.”

The pilot phase will focus on postdoctoral research fellows and emerging researchers at a postdoctoral level to provide them with a unique opportunity to work within government departments. Through close collaboration with key government stakeholders, fellows will engage in policy processes and activities aligned with the thematic areas outlined in the Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Decadal Plan 2022-2032. These areas include energy, social sciences, agriculture, climate change adaptation and mitigation, health, and other relevant fields.

The pilot phase saw the appointment of 14 postdoctoral fellows assigned to strategic divisions within the DSI and NRF. The DSI fellows will be placed at the Technology Innovation and Research Development and Support divisions, while the NRF fellows will be spread across Business Advancement, Research Analysis and Advice, Knowledge Advancement and Support divisions, as well as Research Chairs and Centres of Excellence.

The fellows will support the following five policy focus areas:

Human capital development and Social Grand Challenges (HCD and SGCs)

  1. Research impact
  2. Internationalisation and partnerships
  3. Technology & Innovation
  4. Open science

The 2024 postdoctoral fellows are:

NameBase InstitutionPolicy focus areas
Dr Dignity ParadzaCape Peninsula University of TechnologyHCD and SGCs
Dr Lucia MasilelaUniversity of JohannesburgHCD and SGCs
Dr Nokubonga MakhanyaUniversity of JohannesburgOpen science policies
Dr Farai KapfudzaruwaUniversity of PretoriaTechnology & Innovation
Dr Phuti NgoepeUniversity of PretoriaTechnology & Innovation
Dr Kelechi NwambaekweUniversity of the Western CapeTechnology & Innovation
Dr Sibaliso MhlangaUniversity of the Western CapeOpen science policies
Dr Zakhele NdalaUniversity of WitwatersrandHCD and SGCs
Dr Lethula MofokengUniversity of PretoriaHCD and SGCs
Dr Faith TinonetsanaDurban University of TechnologyResearch impact
Dr Kingsley AmaechiUniversity of VendaResearch impact
Dr Nhlanhla HlongwaUniversity of Cape TownHCD and SGCs
Dr Simbarashe KativhuUniversity of VendaResearch impact
Dr Moloko Mathipa-MdakaneCouncil for Industrial and Scientific ResearchResearch impact

The Fellowship programme is expected to be scaled up over the next few years, and an open call for postdoctoral researchers to apply for it in 2025 and beyond is being held.

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