UCT joins Wellcome Leap Global Network

05 February 2021 | Story Staff writer. Photo UCT. Read time 3 min.

The University of Cape Town (UCT) has joined the Leap Health Breakthrough Network, a global group of leading academic and research institutions committed to solving the world’s most serious health challenges at record speed.

Though it can currently take as long as a year to finalise a research funding agreement, the network will help eliminate barriers to progress thanks to the first-of-its-kind Master Academic Research Funding Agreement (MARFA), which equitably addresses all terms and conditions, including IP, ownership and publication.

As a MARFA signatory, UCT will need to negotiate only the statement of work and cost before funds can be transmitted and work can begin, potentially shaving months or more off of development timelines.

A global pandemic heralds (quick) global solutions

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of tackling urgent, large-scale health challenges quickly and across disciplines, organisations and borders. It's imperative that good ideas are identified and funded quickly, and that researchers across many institutions can build solutions together.


“COVID-19 has left no corner of the world unscathed, demanding immediate responsiveness and transdisciplinary engagement.”

“COVID-19 has left no corner of the world unscathed, demanding immediate responsiveness and transdisciplinary engagement,” says Professor Sue Harrison, UCT’s deputy vice-chancellor of Research and Internationalisation. “Yet it has also highlighted the obstructions that hinder critical research, international collaboration and timely solutions. As a MARFA signatory, UCT looks forward to working with the global research community to unleash truly transformative human health solutions far quicker than has thus far been possible.”

Bold breakthroughs

Wellcome Leap is a United States non-profit organisation founded by the Wellcome Trust in 2020 to accelerate innovations that benefit global health.

Operating at the intersection of life sciences and engineering, Leap builds and executes bold, unconventional programmes that target complex human health challenges, aiming to achieve breakthrough scientific and technological solutions over five to 10 years.

UCT joins the charter group of 21 world-class institutions, representing a network of more than 150 000 researchers across six continents. The charter signatories include:

  • Agency for Science, Technology and Research
  • California Institute of Technology
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Francis Crick Institute
  • Harvard University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • National University of Singapore
  • University of Auckland
  • University of California, Los Angeles
  • University of California, San Diego
  • University of Cape Town
  • University of Dundee
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • University of São Paulo
  • University of Southern California
  • Uppsala University
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • Wellcome Sanger Institute
  • Wyss Center for Bio and Neuroengineering, and
  • Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.

Find out more about Wellcome Leap at www.wellcomeleap.org

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