NRF Announces Global Knowledge Partnerships Opportunities For 2023

Johannesburg – The National Research Foundation (NRF) on Friday announced the implementation of its Global Knowledge Partnerships (GKP) programme for the 2023 academic year. 

The programme places exceptional Doctoral students, Postdoctoral Fellows, and Early Career Researchers (ECRs) who are funded by the NRF at several international universities and research institutions. 

The pool of these partner institutions is spread across various countries including Germany, Austria, the USA, Japan, Singapore, Canada, and several within the African continent. 

The programme is premised on the need to accelerate the development of a diverse young researcher cohort into world-renowned experts and a globally competitive workforce through the provision of platforms and pathways that offer opportunities for outstanding young researchers to access international networks, mentorship, global research funding streams, industry partnerships, and research infrastructure. 

The programme is being realised through the guiding framework of the GKP programme, an NRF initiative, which was implemented in 2020.  

“The Global Knowledge Partnerships programme is one of the NRF’s most prominent initiatives. It is meant to ensure that the NRF achieves its goal to expose students it funds to scientific practices globally,” says Dr. Aldo Stroebel, the NRF’s Acting Group Executive: Strategy, Planning and Partnerships, and Executive Director: Strategic Partnerships. 

“This international exposure for Doctoral students, postdoctoral Fellows, and ECRs is an integral component of the NRF’s strategic goal to create an internationally competitive, transformed, and representative researcher cohort. 

“The benefits of such exposure to the researchers and also to South Africa and Africa cannot be understated.” 

Through this GKP programme, the NRF, working in close collaboration with local and international partners in addition to the higher education sector in South Africa intends to guide and monitor opportunities for outstanding NRF-funded Doctoral students, postdoctoral Fellows and ECRs to spend a significant period.

For example three-12 months for Doctoral students and up to 18 months for postdoctoral Fellows and ECRs, abroad at universities, research performing entities, science councils and in industry.  

The eligibility criteria are as follows: 

  • The applicant must be a South African citizen or permanent resident (however, this requirement will not be applicable to students funded under the NRF-MINDS scholarship programme); 
  • Be a currently NRF-funded Doctoral student or postdoctoral Fellow or ECR; 
  • Have a research plan developed for the time abroad which is signed by the South African supervisor and international host supervisor; and 
  • Produce evidence of demonstrated leadership abilities or potential guided by the questions/requirements set out in the application form (requirement is for NRF-MINDS programme only). 

Applications must be submitted through the international partner’s online portal for specific programmes. With specific programmes, the reviewing and selection of applications will be conducted jointly by the international partner and the NRF.  

Scholarships on offer under the GKP programme are: 


Fulbright Foreign Student Programme (FFSP)  

The FFSP, in partnership with the NRF, supports the Visiting Student Researchers to undertake non-degree doctoral research training for a maximum period of 12 months at a university in the USA.

Applicable research fields include Science, Engineering and Technology (SET), and Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH).

The call for applications for this programme is expected to open in January 2023.

For more information, please visit the FFSP website at <> . 

NRF-MINDS Mobility Programme 

The Mandela Institute for Development Studies (MINDS), in partnership with the NRF, enables a joint postgraduate scholarship and exchange programme for Africa. 

Through the exchange programme, NRF-funded students under the NRF-MINDS Scholarship programme may apply for short-term research visits of one to three weeks or three to twelve months at an African-based academic institution. 

Applicants should submit their applications as per the Scholarship and Fellowship-holders Travel Grant Guidelines 2023.  

For more information, please visit the MINDS website at <> . 

NRF-Mitacs Mobility Programme  

The NRF and Mitacs have entered into a co-funding partnership in order to make provision for funding, training and networking opportunities for NRF-funded Doctoral students and postdoctoral Fellows. 

The objective of this partnership is to strengthen international research collaboration between SA and Canadian companies and universities. 

NRF-funded Doctoral students and postdoctoral Fellows may undertake short-term research visits of between 12 to 24 months at a Canada-based academic institution. 

For more information, please visit the Mitacs website at <> . 

The call for applications for the Globalink Research Award – Thematic Call opened in September 2022.

 Access more information at <

NRF-DAAD Mobility Programme  

Students receiving NRF-DAAD in-country Master’s and Doctoral funding may apply for a short-term research fellowship for research training spanning three to six months in Germany. 

Students who are interested in this opportunity are welcome to contact the DAAD Information Centre throughout the year <> . 

For more information, please visit the DAAD website at <> . 

DAAD Research Mobility Grants Programme  

The primary aim of this programme is to promote research projects within the context of doctoral programmes through provision of mobility grants. 

Excellently qualified doctoral candidates under specified disciplines may apply for funding to advance their research projects at a state or state-recognised institution of higher education in Germany or a non-university research institute, which is carried out in coordination with an academic adviser in Germany. 

The mobility grant may span up to twelve (12) months, but the actual duration will be decided upon by the selection committee and is dependent on the research project and applicant’s work schedule.

Students who are interested in this opportunity are welcome contact the DAAD Information Centre throughout the year <> . 

For more information on this programme, please visit DAAD website at <> . 

Young Scientists Summer Programme (YSSP)  

Through the YSSP, Doctoral students undertaking their research using systems analysis methodology will advance on their research projects under the supervision of an International Institute of Applied Science-linked researcher for the duration of three months (July – August) at IIASA in Vienna, Austria. 

The call for applications opened in October 2022. For more information, please visit IIASA website at <> . 


Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)  

The JSPS hosts annual HOPE meetings wherein the ECRs from selected countries within the Asia-Pacific and Africa regions are afforded an opportunity to engage in interdisciplinary discussions with Nobel laureates and other distinguished scientists pioneering the frontiers of knowledge. 

Held over a period of one week (annually around March) in Japan, the HOPE meetings also present a great platform for creation of collegial networks with peers from the participating countries. 

This is treated as closed call and nominations were made in July 2022 for the upcoming meeting in 2023. For more information, please visit the JSPS website at <>. 

Global Young Scientists Summit (GYSS)  

The NRF Singapore hosts the annual GYSS with the aim of providing Doctoral students and postdoctoral Fellows an opportunity to interact and learn from Nobel Laureates and world-renowned scientists as they discuss global issues relating to how science and technology can pave the way towards a brighter future. 

Up to 20 speakers are scheduled to speak over a five day period, with candidates being able to engage in thought-provoking plenary lectures and panel discussions. 

Candidates may either choose to be a participant or a viewer in the programme which is held over a period of five days. 

The call for nominations opened in August 2022. For more information, please visit the GYSS website at <> . 

NRF-Mitacs Mobility Programme  

NRF-funded postdoctoral Fellows may undertake short-term research visits of between 12 to 24 weeks at a Canada-based academic institution. Postdoc Fellows must be pursuing their research in a field of study linked to one of the Mitacs broad thematic research areas. For more information, please visit the Mitacs website at <> . 

The call for applications for the Globalink Research Award – Thematic Call opened in September 2022. Access more information at <

International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB)  

South African women postdoctoral Fellows undertaking research in Biotechnology and attached to the ICGEB in Cape Town will have an opportunity to spend between three to six months abroad at the ICGEB laboratories in Trieste, Italy or New Delhi, India. 

Applicants interested in the South African Women in Biotechnology Programme – International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (SAWBP-ICGEB) should apply under the Freestanding, Innovation and Scarce Skills Postdoctoral Fellowships (indicating ICGEB as the institution of choice) that opens in mid-February 2023. 

Further information on these short-term research fellowships may be accessed at <> . 

Further details for students and their home universities are contained in the ‘Global Knowledge Partnerships Programme Implementation Framework for 2023 Academic Year’ which is accessible on the NRF website at <

About the NRF: 

The National Research Foundation (NRF) is an independent statutory body established in accordance with the National Research Foundation Act. 

Its mandate is to support and promote research through funding, human resource development and the provision of the necessary research facilities in order to facilitate the creation of knowledge, innovation and development in all fields of science and technology, including indigenous knowledge; supporting and promoting public awareness of, and engagement with, science; and promoting the development and maintenance of the national science system and support of Government priorities, thereby contributing to the improvement of the quality of life of all South Africans. 

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