WITH increasing focus on research for Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) development and commercialization agenda, the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) has over the years been supporting innovative skills in Zambia.
To this end, the NSTC has launched a call to fund Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects in Research and Innovation (R&I) in the country.
The total grant to the Science Granting Council Initiative (SGCI) funded projects is estimated to cost K400,000.
NSTC Acting Executive Secretary Filipo Zulu says the council has secured a grant from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada, under the auspices of the SGCI, to fund the projects.
Speaking in an interview recently, Mr Zulu said this will help in fostering strategic linkages between research and industry in Zambia.
He said the main objective of the grant is to support Zambia's agenda of transforming the economy into a knowledge-based one for sustainable socio-economic development.
However, the specific objective of this project is to develop a framework aimed at promoting PPP in R&I in the country.
Mr Zulu said the rationale of the call for possible funding was because in Zambia, PPPs have been traditionally linked to investments in infrastructure, such as roads, shopping malls, housing units and so forth.
He said the call for proposals was in line with the SGCI's theme three, which aims at supporting Science Granting Councils (SGCs) to establish partnerships as well as foster public-private linkages in research for accelerated socio-economic development.
Mr Zulu said in advancing this aim, the SGCI commissioned a paper on Research and Innovation entitled 'Towards Effective Public-Private Partnerships in Research and Innovation: A Perspective for African Research Granting Councils', which was presented to the Science Granting Councils at the 2017 SGCI Annual Africa Regional Forum.
He said the paper emphasizes the need for Science Granting Councils to establish partnerships with the private sector through creation of practical and working networks that are much more than mere channels of information exchange, but pathways for creation, exchange and utilization of knowledge in the research and innovation ecosystem.
Mr Zulu said female applicants and disabled persons especially have been encouraged to apply for possible funding.
He said the categories of costs that are eligible will include research fees, research materials and supplies, research equipment and accessories, local travel and associated costs.
The costs will also cater for dissemination of results and publications, institutional administrative cost at five per cent of the total budget, as well as monitoring and evaluation cost at five per cent of the total budget.
Mr Zulu said the grant will not include non-eligible costs of salaries and honoraria for the research team, institutional financial management costs, such as audit fees and insurance costs not related to the project.
He said the planned maximum project duration shall not exceed six months.
This call is open to public and private institutions and organizations and the team leader must have a minimum of a master's degree in a relevant field and must have a minimum of five years' experience in similar undertakings.
Mr Zulu said the proposals will be evaluated and reviewed by independent experts.
The selection of projects will be on merit and priority, taking into consideration the potential significant contribution to advancing PPP in R&I; quality of the proposal; multidisciplinary composition of the team; originality and innovativeness of the proposal; collaboration and capacity of the research team.
He said applicants were supposed to submit a proposal electronically to: email@example.com and copied to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The NSTC, established by the Science and Technology Act No. 26 of 1997, is a statutory body through which successive governments have directed policy in the development and application of science and technology in Zambia.
It is mandated to promote, regulate and coordinate research and innovation, mobilise resources for STI and advise Government on STI matters, among other functions.
Zambia through the NSTC is one of the SGCs participating in the SGCI for Sub-Saharan Africa.
The SGCI seeks to strengthen the capacities of the participating SGCs in supporting research and evidence-based policies that will contribute to socio-economic development of the countries.