NRF Funding Opportunity – SA-Japan (JSPS) - Joint Research Mobility Call

UFS strip research

Submission deadline

  • UFS internal closing date: 10 September
  • NRF final closing date: 22 September 2023
  • DA closing date: 29 September 2023

Dear colleagues, please note that the Japan (JSPS) - SA Bilateral Call is now open on NRF Connect under the Research Grants category.

The purpose of this call is to support the mobility of researchers, scientists, postdocs, and doctoral students within joint research projects.

The onus is on the applicant to find their research partner. Proposals must be received in both Japan and South Africa. Neither the NRF nor JSPS will be held responsible for the non-submission of the application in the partner country.

Value of call: The total amount of funding requested from the NRF should not exceed R900 000 (R450 000 per annum). Funding will be made available for a maximum of two years, to be paid in annual instalments and exclusively for research activities commencing in 2024.

Areas of cooperation
This call will only support joint research proposals within the social sciences, natural sciences, and the humanities. Please note that for South Africa, joint projects by historically disadvantaged institutions and individuals (HDIs) involving young scientists and paying attention to a balanced involvement of female and male researchers (gender equality), will be positively considered and will receive a higher rating.

Eligibility criteria
An application must designate two principal investigators, one in South Africa and one in Japan, who will bear the main responsibility for the project, including its technical and administrative coordination as well as scientific and financial reporting. Commercial institutions and private education institutions are not eligible to apply under this programme.

Japanese PIs must hold a full-time or equivalent position as a researcher at a university or research institute in Japan that is eligible to receive Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research - KAKENHI. However, there are cases when a researcher not employed in a full-time position may be eligible. Such persons must be eligible to apply for a KAKENHI grant-in-aid and his/her affiliated institution must judge them as able to implement the project and to provide an appropriate research environment (e.g., laboratory, equipment, personnel) for it.

Eligible research activities
The purpose of this call is to support the mobility of researchers, scientists, postdocs, and doctoral students within joint research projects. Funding will be made available for the following activities:

  • Mobility: The exchange visits of researchers, postdocs, and doctoral students, including support for research fieldwork.
  • Small equipment and consumables.
  • Workshops, seminars, or networking events: holding meetings alternately in South Africa and Japan.

In the case of meetings, research visits, and exchange of scientists, personnel, and experts, as well as reciprocal visits undertaken as part of joint research projects and the attendance of seminars, symposia, and other meetings funded under this agreement, the sending side will be responsible for financing international travel, visas, and medical insurance, while the receiving party will be responsible for financing the accommodation and subsistence of their international partners. Local travel and fees relating to the organisation of events (venue, catering, audio-visual equipment, etc.) will be the financial responsibility of the host investigator, which is to be paid from his/her allocation of the joint funding.

The following are NOT to be funded from the NRF-funds allocation:

  • Consultant fees
  • Large equipment
  • Project management fees
  • Overheads
  • Salaries and temporary staff fees
  • Educational expenses (scholarships/ bursaries/ student fees/ educational expenses, etc.). Postgraduate students in need of financial support are advised to apply for a scholarship through the NRF call for student support, which opens at the beginning of April each year.

Application procedure
South Africa:
Applications must be submitted to the NRF through an online application process here. Please use the ‘General Application Guide 2024’ for assistance on the steps to follow when applying for international research grants. The link to the guide is available on this webpage.

PIs must attach the required compulsory documents in PDF format in the following order:

  • CVs of partner principal investigators.
  • Budgets of partner principal investigators.
  • Budget division of the South African team, in particular budget sharing between the historically advantaged and HDIs.

Failure to submit compulsory documents will result in the disqualification of the application and will make the entire project ineligible. You have three (3) days to query from the date of email receipt should your application be rejected in the screening phase.

Application forms for Japanese applicants may be downloaded from the JSPS website using the links:

  1. Review process

Following the closing date indicated below, applications will be submitted to recognised national experts in the various research fields represented by the proposals received. These experts will evaluate each proposal based on the following criteria:

  • Scientific quality of the joint research project, including the competence and expertise of the scientists/research teams involved, especially in supervising postgraduate students.
  • Alignment with national priorities in each country.
  • Feasibility of continuing the partnership beyond the two-year funding period of this programme.
  • Human capacity development.

    Particular emphasis is to be placed on the training of students and young researchers through research, transfer of knowledge and know-how aimed at socio-economic development. Integration of young researchers and students, and the exchange of postgraduate students, are encouraged.

    Following the closing date indicated, applications will be screened for eligibility before being subjected to a scientific peer review. Should the application be rejected during the screening phase, researchers have a maximum of three (3) days from the date of email receipt to query the outcomes of the screening phase.

    Following local evaluation, a shortlist of projects to be funded will be constituted through consultations between the NRF and JSPS, based on the results of the evaluations done in both countries.

    Although the two parties undertake to execute the evaluation and selection process as quickly as possible so as to notify applicants of the results, the nature of the bilateral process requires the alignment of the commencement of each phase of the process with the partnering country, whose schedules may differ significantly.

    Contact details
    Eleanor van der Westhuizen
    T: +27 51 401 7077

    Thabi Mosoetsa
    T: +27 51 401 7708

    For NRF-Connect system or technical queries:

    For programme content-related queries
    Teuns Phahlamohlaka
    Knowledge Advancement and Support 
    T: +27 12 481 4385

    For grant-related queries
    Jan Phalane
    Professional Officer
    Grants Management and Systems Administration
    T: +27 12 481 4157

    Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), Japan
    Miho Shibuya
    International Research Cooperation Division II 
    Japan Society for the Promotion of Science

    T: +81 3 3263 2362

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