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Billions of Rands invested into the Cape’s leading higher education research facilities

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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.

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