Page 13 - UCT Research Report 2011

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research is gainingever greater
international recognition and
our researchers are demonstrating that
Africa can be a leader in solving many of the
world’s central questions, while contributing
meaningfully to the important debates of
our time.
Our international standing as a leading
research institution was again demonstrated
by our placement in the three main global
university ranking systems last year.
Elsevier’s SciVal Spotlight, a research
analysis tool, also indicates that we are
currently among the world leaders in many
of the areas in which we have achieved
research excellence.
In line with UCT’s strategy to enhance
its position as an Afropolitan university,
the Vice-Chancellor’s Strategic Fund
awarded the Research Office funding to
support research collaboration with partners in Africa
or elsewhere in the global South. In addition, the overall
plan to boost UCT’s research included identifying strong
existing international research links and giving targeted
central assistance to those linkages that can most benefit
from such an intervention. Thus, during 2011, directed
action was taken to strengthen existing research ties
between, respectively, the Department of Oceanography
and the Universities of Bretagne Occidentale (Brest) and
Montpellier, and the Department of Chemical Engineering
and the University of Singapore.
The transformation of the research cohort remains a top-
level concern for UCT. We realise the health of academia
in the future depends on ensuring that the best talent
of our country, at the very least, should consider taking
up a position in a university and to this end we have set
up several initiatives aimed at emerging and mid-career
Support is, of course, not limited to new and mid-
career academics. The Research Office, the Office for
Research Contracts and Intellectual Property Services,
and the Research Finance section of the Finance
Department support UCT staff in many of the tasks that
are central to their overall research effort. This includes:
(i) support and training in preparing proposals for funding
from organisations such as the European Union’s FP7
Programme, the National Institutes of Health and other
major funders of international research, (ii) individualised
support in applying for NRF rating and funding, (iii) advice
and support in managing research grants, (iv) advice and
support in protecting IP efficiently, as well as support in
taking the IP to the market, and (v) advice and support
in entering into research contracts. It is necessary to
draw specific attention to these services, since without
this behind-the-scenes support, UCT’s research would
not have the range and impact that it
currently enjoys.
The university’s strategy in terms of
size and shape commits it to significant
growth in the postgraduate sector. To
this end, Professor Hugh Corder was
appointed to investigate the feasibility
of appointing a Director of Postgraduate
Studies. His report recommended that
the post be created and this was
accepted by the university’s structures.
It has become clear that this position
will play a central role in realising UCT’s
ambitions in respect of postgraduate
growth. The strengthening of all
aspects of postgraduate studies is an important aspect
for the year ahead.
In the modern university, support for innovation at all levels
is a must. In 2011, the Office for Research Contracts and
IP Services has continued to build an active and mutually
supportive inventor and entrepreneurial community at UCT.
It has worked closely with the National Intellectual Property
Management Office (NIPMO), as the latter found its feet last
year. Highlights of 2011 were: UCT had the highest annual
number of spin-off companies and invention disclosures
ever, a new IP policy was approved, an ‘evergreen fund’
campaign was launched to support innovation, and strong
progress was made by the Innovation Working Group
towards drafting a full innovation policy and launching an
Innovation Forum.
UCT has long recognised that the frontiers of knowledge
are often best extended by combining the insights of
several traditional disciplines – as is evidenced by the
University’s Signature Themes (all of which are aimed at
promoting inter- and trans-disciplinary research) and also
by its support of many other inter- and trans-disciplinary
ventures. It is, however, clear that here, as elsewhere in
the world, the recognition of the value of this approach
does not mean that it is easy to realise it. The University
Research Committee (URC) therefore resolved to devote
the 2011 Research Indaba to a debate (against the
Introduction by the
Deputy Vice-Chancellor