By Mary Hearty

Six teams consisting of 57 research management professionals from Africa and the UK have been selected to take part in the International Research Management Staff Development Programme (IRMSDP).

The partnership seeks to develop their individual capacity, promote knowledge and culture sharing and the development of tools and resources by research management professionals in the respective regions.

Hamish Macandrew, ARMA’s Chief Operating Officer, said, “ARMA (UK) is delighted to be working with our African partners on this ground-breaking project. IRMSDP offers a marvelous opportunity for our members to build connections and establish strong working relationships with those who manage and support Africa’s research programmes.”

“Global research challenges need cross-continental partnerships, and this programme will deliver exciting and innovative initiatives that can only strengthen the provision of collaborative, world-class research,” Macandrew emphasized.

Following a rigorous selection process, 12 teams from Africa and UK were selected. The teams were consequently matched to form 6 international teams consisting of 57 individuals, who will participate in the actual knowledge and culture exchange programme.

African participants are from institutions in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda, Botswana, Kenya and Zambia. UK participants are from institutions in the North East, South East, London, North West, East Midlands and South East regions.

Over a course of eight months beginning in October 2020 and ending in April 2021, the six teams will gain practical skills and co-create resources to close the critical gaps in the African research ecosystem to support a vibrant research culture and leadership at universities and research institutions.

The teams are focusing their innovative ideas on the themes: Research management support functions and infrastructure; professional development for research managers and administrators; funding and collaboration for research; and research uptake and impact.

The ultimate goal is to strengthen the research management capacity of institutions via the professionals who work for them.

IRSMPD, which contributes to ReMPro Africa’s fourth strand on developing individual capacity of research management staff, is implemented in partnership with ARMA (UK), the professional membership association for Research Managers and Administrators in the UK.

“This partnership with ARMA is keen to promote South-South and North-North collaborations, while at the same time strengthening international ties and enabling research management professionals to widen and share their skills for the benefit of their institutions and the profession,” says Allen Mukhwana, the Research Systems Manager at the AAS.

IRMSDP is implemented by the Research Management Programme in Africa (ReMPro Africa), a programme of the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA).

AESA is a funding, agenda-setting and programme management initiative created through a partnership between the African Academy of Sciences (AAS), African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), and global partners.

The other three ReMPro Africa’s strands are institutional leadership, standards and sustainability of research management function.

“I am passionate about research administration and my goal is to make a positive impact by lessening the encumbering red tape usually associated with research administration, giving PI’s and their teams more time to focus on their scientific goals,” Sashin Harilall, Research Grants Manager at the Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) said.

The IRMSDP is a very exciting initiative which contributes to ReMPro’s 4th strand of developing individual capacity of research management staff would allow my practical skills and knowledge sharing pathways to achieve this goal,” Harilall added.

List of participating institutions:
Team One
Namibia University of Science and Technology (Namibia), University of Witwatersrand (South Africa), Loughborough University (United Kingdom), Botswana Open University (Botswana), De Montfort University (United Kingdom), Stellenbosch University (South Africa), and the University of Namibia (Namibia).

Team Two
Nugaal University (Somalia), St John’s University (Tanzania), Imperial College of London (United Kingdom), The Francis Crick Institute (United Kingdom), University of Nairobi (Kenya) and the Uganda Management Institute (Uganda).

Team Three
School of African Studies (United Kingdom), Bindura University of Science Education (Zimbabwe), London School of Economics (United Kingdom), Midlands State University (Zimbabwe), Africa University Clinical Research Centre (Zimbabwe), and the National University of Science and Technology (Zimbabwe).

Team Four
Durham University (United Kingdom), London School of Economics (United Kingdom), New Castle University (United Kingdom), Northumbria University (United Kingdom), Aga Khan University (Kenya), University of Washington, Women’s Health Project (Kenya), International Centre for Reproductive Health (Kenya) and the KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Programme (Kenya).

Team Five
Africa Health Research Institute (South Africa), Center for Family Health Research (Zambia), University of Leeds (United Kingdom), University of London (United Kingdom), University of Southampton (United Kingdom) and the Botswana-Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (Botswana).

Team Six
Cardiff University (United Kingdom), The Public Health Alliance for Genomic Epidemiology, University of Western Cape (South Africa), University of Bath (United Kingdom), African Institute of Biomedical Science and Technology (Zimbabwe), University of Cape Town (South Africa), University of West England (United Kingdom), University of Exeter (United Kingdom) and the University of Bristol (United Kingdom).