National Equipment Programme (NEP)


The strategic context for the National Equipment Programme (NEP) arises from the National Key Research and Technology Infrastructure Strategy, which is informed by the National Research and Development Strategy (NRDS).

The NEP, through a competitive peer-reviewed process makes funds available to support the acquisition, upgrade or development of state-of-the-art research equipment.  This involves major items of equipment for multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary research that usually requires significant capital investment, specialised operators and dedicated personnel to operate and maintain the equipment. 


The primary objectives of the NEP are to:

  • Support the acquisition, upgrade and/or development of state-of-the-art instrumentation for South African public research institutions to undertake world class research;
  • Provide infrastructure for research capacity development, mainly post-graduate student training and staff development;
  • Create a long-range planning culture around research equipment;
  • Promote, through the placement of research equipment, the development of research collaboration;
  • Support and promote national, regional and institutional research priorities; and
  • Support and strengthen the objectives of the Department of Science and Technology’s Ten-Year Innovation Plan, the National Development Plan and the National Key Research and Technology Infrastructure Strategy.

Eligibility Criteria

Individual researchers must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Have obtained a doctoral degree at least five years prior to the application to the NEP funding instrument;
  • Be employed in a permanent position or on a full-time fixed term-appointment, for at least five years following the application to the funding instrument, at any South African public universities and public research entities such as Science Councils, National Research Facilities, research laboratories, including research hospitals and museums;
  • Have a proven track record for training postgraduate students and post-doctoral fellows as well as have experience with managing research equipment;
  • In the case where the applicant obtained his/her doctoral degree in less than five years prior to the application there must be a strong co-applicant mentoring/supporting the applicant; and
  • In the case where the applicant is approaching retirement, a successor must be identified.

The total grant value for the proposed equipment should not be less than R1 000 000.  The NRF contribution will not exceed R10 000 000 inclusive of a three-year maintenance contract with the service provider of choice. These values must be in South African Rand (ZAR) and inclusive of Value Added Tax (VAT).

The Institution at which the applicant is employed must be committed to a 2:1 (NRF: Institution) funding contribution with the NRF.  However, in the case of historically disadvantaged institutions, that are under-resourced, the institutional contribution is negotiable.

Applications must be endorsed by the researcher’s institution/s' designated authority.