The Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and the Netherlands’ Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/E) recently signed a letter of intent agreeing to establish a framework for future strategic collaboration.
This framework will establish cooperation between the Department and the university to enhance their respective capacities to better harness science, technology and innovation (STI) as instruments to drive both economic and societal development.
The signing ceremony took place as part of the Dutch trade mission to South Africa, which ran from 15 to 20 October in parallel with King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima’s state visit to South Africa at the request of President Cyril Ramaphosa.
In signing the letter of intent, both parties will explore and develop cooperation in policy and thematic areas aligned with South Africa’s new Decadal Plan for STI, as approved by Cabinet in December 2022, as well as TU/E’s focus on responding to strategic challenges in collaboration with industry.
Dr Mmboneni Muofhe, the DSI’s Deputy Director-General: Socio-Economic Innovation Partnerships, who signed a letter on behalf of the DSI, believes the partnership will be mutually beneficial to both parties, particularly in areas that promote societal development.
The parties have identified three priority actions to promote their cooperation:
- Establishing an STI policy dialogue
Initial exchanges will focus on leveraging experience and expertise from TU/E to contribute to the development of entrepreneurial capacities at South African universities. This will include the process of establishing a new university of science and technology located within a local innovation ecosystem, similar to the Brainport Eindhoven in the Netherlands, which is a region where knowledge institutes, start-ups and high-tech and manufacturing companies work together with the government to pursue innovation.
- Promoting research and innovation cooperation, including staff and student exchange
The parties will explore potential opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation between TU/E research institutes – such as the Eindhoven Artificial Intelligence Systems Institute, the Eindhoven Institute for Renewable Energy Systems, the Institute for Complex Molecular Systems, and the Eindhoven Hendrik Casimir Institute – and their South African counterparts.
- Encouraging South African cooperation with TU/E in multilateral programmes
The DSI will provide appropriate support to South African organisations that are interested in collaborating with TU/E in multilateral programmes, including those of the European Union, through partner-matching initiatives, among other actions.
The next steps in this partnership are the development and approval of a programme of operation by 31 March 2024.