Establishment of the Fund for RSTI
Considering the need to advance research, technology and innovation, the Research, Science and Technology Act 23 of 2004 established the “National Research, Science and Technology Fund” and provides basic provisions. Section 23 and 24 of the Act defines that the fund is constituted by:
- Financial resources appropriated by Parliament on behalf of the Fund
- Fees that are received under the Act for the benefit of the Fund
- Interests or dividends earned on any investment made in terms of subsection 5
- Financial resources derived from the sale of any asset of the Commission
- Money borrowed under section 5(2)
- Financial resources received by the way of donations or grants from any source in Namibia, and, subject to the approval of the Minister in agreement with the Minister responsible for finance, from any source outside Namibia;
- Financial resources obtained through the sale of i) publications prepared by or for the Commission; ii) reference material, data and information; and
- Any other financial resources which may be accrue to the Commission
It is also defined that the Commission should manage the Fund in accordance with sound principles, by observing the measures implemented to protect its liquidity.
The Act defines that the money available in the Fund should be used:
- To pay the administrative expenses of the Commission;
- To pay the administrative expenses of every council;
- To fund the costs of any project or other activity of the Commission undertaken by the Commission or by any research institute with the approval of the Commission; and
- To pay remunerations and allowances payable by the Commission and such other expenses incurred by the Commission in the performance of its functions.
In order to ensure that national benefit is derived from research excellence, the Commission supports a continuum of research activities, which are here defined as the “FUNDING PROGRAMME” as depicted in Figure 1.
The main idea behind this categorization is that research and innovation capabilities can be built from the bottom up and step by step depending on the availability of funds. At the on-set of the National Research, Science and Technology Fund, the present priority would be given to fund projects presented by research teams in which there is at least one high level researcher, thus covering the first two categories of the pyramid.
Research needs to be carried out within a framework that demonstrates accountability to the government and the community, is transparent, is performance-driven and is capable of highlighting the return (economic or otherwise) on investment in research, thus a set of transparent processes are required in the operation of the National Fund.
The Foundation (section 13 of the Research, Science and Technology Act, 2004) should in close coordination with the Commission, undertake periodic studies on research and innovation activities in Namibia, work closely with the groups or institutions producing indicators, so that gaps and new priorities are readily identified for financing.
In order to identify the type of research projects that the Fund could finance in the short and long term, the following is a tentative and preliminary list of possibilities(see below); for each type of research activity it is possible to build the “Call for Project or Proposal”.
Research and Development Funding Programme
Independent Young Research Scientist Development Award
Objective: To support young scientist, committed to research, in need of additional research training
It is in this type of projects that the Fund can finance young researchers, who often have difficulty to access funding. It is for this group of “future” researchers that the Capacity Building Programme must be implemented.
Independent Research Scientist Development Award
Objective: For support of a young scientist, committed to research, in need of additional research training. It is in this type of projects that the Fund can finance young researchers, who often have difficulty to access funding. It is for this group of “future” researchers that the Capacity Building Programme must be implemented.
Research Programme Project Award
Objective: To support a set of projects, which demonstrate an essential element of unity and interdependence, i.e., a system of research activities and projects directed toward a well-defined research program goal. The support will include planning for new programs, expansion or modification of existing resources, and feasibility studies to explore various approaches to the development of multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary programs that offer potential solutions to problems of special significance to the Commission. These studies may lead to the establishment of specialized or comprehensive centres implemented.
Open Research Project Award
Objective: To support a discrete, specified, circumscribed project to be performed by the named investigator(s) in an area representing his specific interest and competencies. Advertised through an open call for proposals in the print media
Small Research Project Grants Award
Objective: To provide research support specifically limited in time and amount for studies in categorical program areas. Small grants provide flexibility for initiating studies which are generally for preliminary short-term projects and are non-renewable. The concept of seed funding can be introduced in this category, as the Fund can provide resources for scientific feasibility studies.
Objective: To encourage new exploratory and developmental research projects by providing support for the early and conceptual stages of these projects.
Promotion of Regional and International R&D
Objective: Strengthen the local and regional research capacities that will support the implementation of regional development plans and productive sectors; Stimulate scientific cooperation between the Namibian, regional and international community so that collaboration may impact on national research efforts in the frontiers of knowledge.
Research Chair Programme
A programme designed to manage research in a way that produces tangible results that tie in with Namibia’s Vision 2030; National Development Plans (NDPs) and Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP). It is a road map tailor made to ensure quality human capital development and innovative and implementable research outputs which are recognized internationally.
Innovation and Technology Development Programme
Research Demonstration and Dissemination Projects
Objective: To provide support designed to develop, test and evaluate research activities, and to foster the application of existing knowledge for specific areas. The funding should support testing, by means of a research design, the effectiveness of the transfer and application of techniques or interventions derived from a research base. These are usually cooperative programs between participating principal investigators, institutions, and the sponsoring Institution(s).
Funding Youth Innovation
Objective: To support the efforts of youth enterprises to innovate products, processes or organization / administration. Funding can be provided to projects that will contribute to the technological modernization of enterprises that comply with environmental protection norms, hygiene and security.
Objective: To support the efforts of enterprises to innovate products, processes or organizations / administration. Funding can be provided to projects that will contribute to the technological modernization of enterprises that comply with environmental protection norms, hygiene and security.
National Infrastructure and Flagship Programmes
Strengthening infrastructure: aligned with the National Strategy for RSTI
Objective: Strengthen the capacity to undertake research and technology development through the purchase of specialized equipment with the view of establishing or improving competitive excellence centres.
Expensive capital items such as an electron microscope or expensively equipped laboratories that can serve many branches of science, should be classified as ‘National Facilities’ and opened to all bona-fide researchers. The use of such equipment should be open for use by any researcher wishing to make use of it.
Flagship projects commissioned by the NCRST are eligible for support under the RST Fund
Objective: Flagship projects commissioned by the NCRST are eligible for support under the RST Fund.
Objective: To support postgraduate students with supervised research training in specified national priority related areas leading towards an advanced research degree (e.g Masters or PhD)
Objective: Financial support that covers most or all of the tuition fees and which is usually the most competitive (based on academic merit and specified criteria).
Postdoctoral Individual Award
Objective: To support postdoctoral research training to individuals to broaden their scientific background and extend their potential for research in specified priority areas.
Conferences, Books and Publications
Conference, workshops and training Grant
Objective: Conference, workshops and training Grant
To support recipient to attend international, national or regional meetings, conferences and workshops.
Books & Publications
Objective: To support grant recipients funded by NCRST, for further publications of books and/of journals and identified documentation in areas of priority.
The NCRST continues to receive unsolicited research and innovation proposals which are submitted outside a Call for Proposals. These proposals will only be evaluated if the NCRST considers the proposal as critical to addressing national priorities or national response. Where necessary, unsolicited innovation proposals submitted outside a call will be provided the opportunity to pitch under an innovation fostering platform for further consideration. The NCRST reserves the right not to accept any or all unsolicited proposals received. An ad hoc committee will be established for unsolicited proposal pitch.
Grant administration encompasses all processes involved in granting activities, and includes:
- Conceptualization: Call design and document preparation;
- Call for applications: Advertising
- Receiving applications
- Selection: Internal screening, selection and external evaluation
- Recommendation: to the Foundation on Research, Science & Technology
- Submission to the Board of Commissioners for approval
- Announcement of the grant decision
- Finalization of Grant agreement; Awarding of Grants; Signing of agreements
- Implementation of activities
- Technical and Financial Reporting
- Technical Audit (Review and evaluation)
- Grant Closure