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Friday, 24 July 2020

A big step towards our future

SOW THE SEEDS FOR SUCCESS: Senate recently approved the redesigned Research Focus Areas to ensure their relevance to identified elements of the Sustainable Development Goals. SOW THE SEEDS FOR SUCCESS: Senate recently approved the redesigned Research Focus Areas to ensure their relevance to identified elements of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The director of Strategy and Internationalisation, Prof René Pellissier, is optimistic about the success of the redesigned Research Focus Areas (RFAs) which were recently approved by the Senate.

The redesign process was conducted to ensure their relevance to identified elements of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Chapters in the National Development Plan (NDP) 2030.

“Thus ensuring national and international competitiveness across all RFAs,” says Hunadi Mokgalaka, Manager of Research Uptake: Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships. Mokgalaka states that the revised and redesigned six RFAs have served at SRIC, ISPC, and finally approved by the Senate. The RFAs now are:

  • Research Focus Area 1: Bio-economy and Biotechnology
  • Research Focus Area 2: Space Science, Engineering and Technology
  • Research Focus Area 3: Smart Energy
  • Research Focus Area 4: The Environment, Climate Change, and Sustainability
  • Research Focus Area 5: Human, Health and Social Dynamics
  • Research Focus Area 6: The Digital Society

These RFAs form part of the Smart Research, Technology Innovation, and Partnerships; one of the strategic focus areas of the ONE Smart CPUT Strategy expressed through Focus Area 3: Enable Smart RTIP relevant, equitable, and excellent transdisciplinary knowledge production. Pellissier stresses that the RFAs give a voice to, ‘our transdisciplinary knowledge production’. “It dedicates our research to areas that matter and supports the CPUT micro and macro community with research outcomes that are valuable and marketable.”

Pellissier says the process brought together senior members across the CPUT research portfolio to interrogate trends in the external environment with a focus on the development of a future-orientation of the RTI portfolio.”

She says that, through the RFAs, the convergence of knowledge production to specific thematic areas allows for CPUT to dedicate its resources and skills base to specific areas and thus creates a competitive base and skills set in areas of national and international concern.

Pellissier says the RFAs provide the high-level thematic areas that researchers engage in and that in the case of CPUT include knowledge production, provide sufficient scope for innovation and commercialisation.  “In response to CPUT’s relevance and excellence as a University of Technology, these thematic areas should consider the important aspects of South Africa’s strategic agenda as encapsulated by the NDP as well as global goals encapsulated by the SDGs,” she remarks.

She says there is no denying the Fourth Industrial Revolution disruptions and the evolution of technology that, in the case of a University of Technology, ‘provide the cornerstone of our existence and lead our competitive edge’.

“There is no doubt in my mind that the CPUT of the future will look back at this first step on the journey towards ‘One Smart CPUT’ and recognise the value in the design of these themes and the subjoined research niche areas created, to set us apart and build a smart CPUT,” Pellissier says.

“It may look like a small step, but it’s a big step towards our new future.”

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Written by Aphiwe Boyce


Provides coverage for the Engineering and the Built Environment and Applied Sciences Faculties.