Swiss-South Africa collaboration in education, research and innovation steadily growing

Bern, 03.06.2015 - The State Secretary for Education, Research and Innovation, Mauro Dell’Ambrogio, and the South African Minister for Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, today created the first bilateral research chair on Global Environmental Health in Cape Town. The Chair's research focus includes topics such as the effects of pesticides on child health and the health impacts of poor water quality and soil pollution.

The research chair, a joint initiative between the University of Basel, the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute and the University of Cape Town will be supported by complementary funding from both the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) and the South African Department of Science and Technology (DST) as part of the bilateral programme in Science and Technology. A second chair will be created in the coming months involving, on the Swiss side, the National Competence Centre in Research on Migration.

Collaboration efforts with South Africa on education, research and innovation, which have been in place since 2007, have led to a marked increase in the number of cooperation projects in various areas. To date these include around 50 joint research projects in various areas of research such as public health and biomedicine, bio and nanotechnology and energy, particularly renewable energy, energy security and green, clean technology. Another successful instrument is the Swiss South African Business Development Programme, which has produced more than 500 innovations so far, providing a pipeline for potential Swiss South Africa Joint Ventures. 

Switzerland’s international strategy for education, research and innovation (ERI) also prioritises the international mobility of talents and achieves by increasing the number of Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships available to South African scholars and by supporting over 15 faculty and student exchanges on both sides in recent years. The impact of the bilateral programme with South Africa is also reflected in the exponential increase of joint publications and in the boost in Switzerland’s ranking as a preferred partner for South African researchers from 14th in 2003 to 6th in 2015. 

During the visit to South Africa, the delegations discussed the continuation in the coming years of the Swiss-South African Joint Research Programme (SSAJRP). They agreed in principle to launch a new call for projects by May 2016.

Discussions also took place for the first time on cooperation regarding vocational education and training as part of the first Joint Committee Meeting between SERI and the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET). This aspect of bilateral cooperation will be the subject of further discussions between State Secretary Dell’Ambrogio and the South African Minister for Higher Education and Training, ‘Blade’ Nzimande, in Geneva on 4 June.

Address for enquiries

Mauro Moruzzi
Ambassador, Head of the International Relations Division
State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI
Tel. +41 79 659 99 10


State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation