SARIMA Workshop: Increasing External Funding for Research

Researchers were kept abreast of the best international practices and strategies to help them secure funding for their research work during this two-day workshop, targeting Research Managers and researchers, responsible for supporting externally funded research. The Southern African Research and Innovation Association (SARIMA) in partnership with the Consultancy and Contract Research Centre (CCRC) of the University of Mauritius organised the SARIMA workshop on 12 and 13 June 2012 at the UoM.

Research Management is not an easy task and looking for research grants both locally & externally can quickly become daunting for any researcher. The workshop thus aimed at equipping research protagonists with the latest techniques in this area.

The workshop was opened by Dr the Hon. Rajeshwar Jeetah, Minister of Tertiary Education, Science, Research and Technology, in the presence of Prof Soodursun Jugessur, Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the UoM Council, Prof Anwar H Subratty, Acting Vice-Chancellor, Dr Vinod Lalljee, Director of the CCRC, Dr Sundeep Singh from the Durban Institute of Technology, African Partnerships, SARIMA, and Dr Karin Dyason, Capacity Development and Professionalisation, SARIMA. Prof Jugessur enumerated initiatives taken by the UoM to address issues of increasing research capacity as well as the weaknesses the institution faces to attract funding from donors and alumni within a context where the culture of giving to tertiary institutions is not the same as in western countries.

The Minister of Tertiary Education stressed on the need to bring a shift in the mentality. “The University should be more business oriented. Research should not lie within the pages of highly specialized journals, but should be of an applied nature that can help solve the real problems facing society” he remarked. The Chairman projected the idea of creation of a foundation of the UoM, which would facilitate the process of raising funds, to which the Hon. Minister was very receptive and gave his full support.

During the workshop, Sundeep Singh from the Durban University of Technology explored factors that could influence individuals and institutions to fund their research within the national context. Discussions were then oriented on the current structure, functions and funding activity of participating institutions. The Director of CCRC further explained the functions of the Consultancy and Contract Research Centre, the UoM Strategic Research and Innovative framework (SRIF) (2009-2015) of the UoM and the IPR policy at the University, followed by presentations on international practices focusing on the structure and functions of R & I Management; the internal research policy framework; the internal research strategy; external funding optimization strategies and; policies and barriers to securing external funding.

Presentation, discussion and practical exercises were also conducted by Dr Karin Dyason on the actions and conditions for raising external funding, the grant writing process and grant proposal development. Karen Bruns, Chief Operating Officer of ‘Research Africa’, made a presentation of Research Africa, which specializes in providing researchers with latest news and which contains a comprehensive database of funding opportunities. She gave a demonstration of the software and its various functions and capabilities. The workshop ended with the participants expressing their full satisfaction and their eagerness to get further training in writing skills with respect to research grants.

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