Billions of Rands invested into the Cape’s leading higher education research facilities
Date: 11 February 2019
The province has a strong pipeline of skills through four top universities including: The University of Cape Town, Stellenbosch University, Cape Peninsula University of Technology and the University of the Western Cape. In addition to this, the University of Cape Town is hailed as Africa's top university with Stellenbosch University following closely behind in 3rd place.
Due to these top performing institutions, billions of Rands are being invested into the Province for further facilitation of research, with huge commitments being made by these leading institutions to position themselves on the continent, and globally, as world-class research hubs.
The establishment of the new Biomedical Research Institute (BMRI), a billion Rand investment announced by the University of Stellenbosch last week, confirms the investor confidence in the region for producing world-class research facilities.
MHS Dean Professor Jimmy Volmink confirmed that the BMRI is set to significantly advance the universities capacity to undertake world-class research on the leading health problems affecting African citizens. It will also contribute considerably to building research capability in the African region.
Similarly UCT’s Neuroscience Institute is geared to become one of the leading Neurological research centres globally.
The Neuroscience Institute broke ground on its new building last year, the Neuroscience Centre is in partnership with Groote Schuur Hospital. The building is designed to hold a state-of-the-art Neurosurgical Innovation laboratory, clinical and training spaces, and an innovation space where research groups can connect. The Institute will serve as a hub for neuroscience in all its forms, across various research groups and clinical sites around Cape Town, South Africa, and Africa.
The Institute will also create and curate a first of its kind biobank to house brain and blood samples from clinics across the continent. This centralised resource will provide laboratories with critical modern-day research materials, allowing for cutting-edge research with immediate clinical relevance.
With large sums of money and time being made into the medical sciences sector, the natural sciences is also putting the province on the map.
The Nature International Journal of Science dubbed Cape Town Africa’s leading science city last year, when measured on its contribution to articles in the 82 high-quality science journals in the Nature Index over the past six years.
UCT contributed the most to the Nature Index with a 2012–2017 fractional count of 33.96, followed by the University of the Western Cape (UWC) at 5.08. Stellenbosch ranked the third highest performing science city in Africa with a six-year fractional count of 86.84 — contributing to the Cape’s research appeal.
Feeding into bourgeoning local knowledge economy, the Cape is the number one association congress for meetings in Africa. Congresses are a key driver for investment and stimulate research exposure into the continent.
Cape Town and the Western Cape Convention Bureau, a division of Wesgro, has secured top international conferences, with 20 conferences secured for the 2018/19 Financial Year so far, with an estimated economic impact of over R750 million in the next five years.
Through the help of local academic institutions the bureau has managed to secure a few top medical conferences including the International Society of Animal Genetics (ISAG) and the International Health Economies Association taking place in July 2021, and the World Congress on Paediatric Critical Care (WFPICCS) scheduled for June 2022, to mention but a few.
“Bringing top industry specialists from around the globe to our shores significantly boosts our local knowledge economy,” said Corne Koch.
Koch continued, “Leaving a legacy has become paramount in hosting successful meetings. These legacy programmes facilitate access for emerging students, businesses and researchers to global platforms and thought leaders.”
Wesgro CEO Tim Harris added: “There have been two research projects realised for the Cape in the last six years amounting to over R54 million. This, combined with the billions being realised by leading local universities into the construction of research facilities, assists expanding our research footprint, putting the Cape on the map as a leading learning destination and knowledge hub. It also does much to strengthen our business tourism proposition which sees global Industry experts from around the world coming to our shores to discuss key topics around pressing issues.”
Minister of Economic Opportunities, Beverly Schäfer, said: "The Western Cape is home to some of the top learning institutions on the continent, which not only contribute to our economy through the billions of Rands in investment into research done here, but also develop a wide skills base in the province which is attractive to potential investors. By expanding our knowledge economy into conferences and congresses, we've also been able to contribute to growth and job creation in the tourism sector."
Wesgro is Cape Town and the Western Cape's official Tourism, Trade and Investment Promotion Agency, and receives its mandate and funding from the Western Cape Government's Department of Economic Development and Tourism and the City of Cape Town.