Novartis has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the South African Department of Science and Technology (DST) and South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) to formalise Novartis’ ongoing investment in developing South African research capabilities, scientific cooperation and collaboration for capacity building and innovation.

The MoU, a public private partnership (PPP), aims to establish a framework for potential cooperation between the parties. This will allow for joint research programmes in selected communicable and non-communicable diseases (NCD), improve South African patients’ access to innovative medicines and build up the research & development capabilities and ecosystem in South Africa and broader Africa.

The MoU with the DST and SAMRC demonstrates the parties’ commitment to research and development (R&D) which will position South Africa as an innovative hub for Africa.

Novartis has long collaborated with the South African government and public and private sector institutions to improve healthcare delivery and support scientific research, clinical trial and capability and capacity building in its field.

Novartis South Africa Country President, Dr Thomas Kowallik, notes that the company has made significant investment in the area of R&D within the South African healthcare and pharmaceutical space in recent years and is firmly committed to continue to do so.

“As a global leader in R&D employing 20,000 scientists worldwide and investing $US9 billion in R&D every year, this ongoing collaboration has the potential to lead to breakthrough innovations stemming from South Africa. Innovation will attract further investment with positive outcomes for the economy. We live in an era of innovation with a lot of opportunities, jobs and breakthroughs which are based on science and R&D. We as Novartis view South Africa as an ideal location for conducting such activities,” said Dr Kowallik.

“PPPs, such as what we are about to embark on, are catalysts that enhance our scientific research and innovation capabilities. These partnerships are visionary and aim to change lives in the present and future,” said SAMRC’s Executive Director: Grants, Innovation & Product Development (GIPD), Professor Richard Gordon.

“Government will continue to work hard to promote partnerships that focus on growing our R&D capability. I am confident that the DST is on track to achieving the government’s goal for greater investment in R&D as well as a GDP spend of 1.5% by 2019,” said Science and Technology Minister, Naledi Pandor.

“We have made great progress, however, we need to do more to ensure we have qualified and well trained effective scientists. Science and technology are critical to our future and the process of sustainable development,” continued Minister Pandor.

Novartis invests in scientific capability development as part of an integrated strategy to strengthen healthcare systems in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMIC). Over the past several years, the company has established a portfolio of healthcare-related capacity/ capability development initiatives to advance basic and clinical research capacity in emerging markets.

The 2016 Access to Medicines Index committee acknowledged the company as an industry leader in capacity development for the comprehensive and innovative approach that consistently addresses local needs.

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