A lion's share of THRIP

26 September 2005

UCT has received the country's highest allocation of THRIP (Technology for Human Resources Programme) funding for the second consecutive year, with a total of R21.6-million for 2005. In 2004, the university's allocation was R20.2-million.

UCT and the universities of Pretoria and Stellenbosch are the country's top three THRIP recipients. The latest ranking is a significant achievement considering how far UCT lagged behind Stellenbosch in the recent past.

THRIP is a partnership programme sponsored by the Department of Trade and Industry and managed on their behalf by the National Research Foundation (NRF). Designed to foster collaboration between industry and researchers at higher-education institutions, THRIP aims to improve the competitiveness of South African industry by supporting research and technology development activities. Human resources also forms a vital cog as development is expected to enhance the quality and quantity of appropriately skilled people.

For a research project to qualify for THRIP funding, at least one industry partner must be involved. Other key requirements are: an innovative research approach; technology transfer to the industry partner for their benefit; the development of a well-defined "prototype" (such as an object, engine, model, management system, process, procedure); and defined scientific and/or technology outputs.

Deputy vice-chancellor Professor Cheryl de la Rey (research and innovation) said : "To monitor our position as a leading research-led university, we use a number of indicators such as research funding, number of master's and doctoral graduates, qualifications and ratings of our academic staff, and, of course, peer-reviewed publications. Within the category of research funding, for some time UCT has been a one of the top-ranking beneficiaries of THRIP funding, but it is only now that we can honestly claim to be the leading participating university in THRIP. The figures verify this position."

She said the significance of this achievement should not be measured in monetary terms only. "It is also a measure of how our research contributes to economic development. An important aspect is that THRIP also provides opportunities for our students for 'on the job training', preparing them for careers in their chosen fields. This is known as Tiptop - a placement mechanism that encourages a flow of expertise between industry and the academic world."

De la Rey said that UCT's growing participation showed that the institution's scientific endeavours are of direct relevance to economic development. "Our achievement has been possible because of the confidence that our industry partners have shown in us. We are very sincerely appreciative of the value of this. I am also deeply grateful to our researchers and to all the staff who support them via the UCT THRIP Service Centre."

(The call for THRIP applications for 2006 closes on November 18, 2005. The internal deadline for submissions to the Research Office is November 7. Funding received from industry for the period 1 August 2005 to 1 December 2006 will qualify for application in the 2006 round. For more information, contact Therina Theron, ext 4380, or Lee-Anne Kallam, ext 2321).

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