National Research Facilities


The National Research Facilities act as custodians for a number of national research platforms.  This custodianship is a multifaceted task, but in essence includes maintenance, upgrade, adaptation and development of the platforms.  To do this effectively one needs to undertake research using the platform to ensure that it remains at the leading edge of the research field.  This research is undertaken by specialised staff members based at the National Research Facilities.

The National Research Facilities are categorized in three main categories:

  • Space Sciences
    • South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO)
    • Hartebeesthoek Radio-Astronomical Observatory (HartRAO)
    • Hermanus Magnetic Observatory (HMO)
  • Environmental Sciences
    • National Zoological Gardens (NZG)
    • South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB)
    • South African Environmental Observatory Network (SAEON)
  • Physics
    • iThemba LABS
The National Research Facilities Incentive Programme

The National Research Facilities Incentive Programme introduces an incentive scheme to encourage improved quality and quantity of research outputs from these researchers.

The scope of the Incentive Programme will include support for all the National Research Facilities.  It will be provided for quality research outputs including peer reviewed papers published in ISI Scientific journals and completed Masters and PhD degrees awarded by South African universities to students that have been co-supervised by staff of the National Research Facilities.  Should the demands on the programme exceed the available resources funding decisions will then be made using a normal NRF competitive funding process.   The criteria used for assessment will include research and student training track records and the demographics of the individual researchers.

A call for the submission of research outputs completed in the previous calendar year will transpire annually. 

Each of the National Research Facilities must submit their summarized outputs for all their researchers for the entire year using the standard format provided by NRF.

National Research Facilities Collaborative Research

The NFCR Grant is aimed at improving access to research platforms and equipment that are located at, and managed by the National Facilities (NFs). This access will be facilitated through collaborative research projects between researchers from the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and researchers from the NFs. The collaborative research project must:

  • Involve researchers from both the HEI and the NF;
  • Involve the use of research equipment located at one of the NFs under the management of the National Research Foundation (NRF); and
  • Involve the training of students.