The South Africa Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA) is a business unit of the National Research Foundation (NRF) with the mandate to advance public awareness, appreciation and engagement of science, engineering, innovation and technology in South Africa.
Science, through research, has a crucial role to play in the growth of South Africa’s economy. Active dialogue and engagement between science and society ensures that scientific research findings are easily translated into relevant, appropriate and beneficial innovation and entrepreneurial opportunities. Research findings should also have an impact on policy and social conditions in a country. This can only be achieved when science becomes a daily dialogue and discourse.
The fundamental principles of SAASTA’s success in advancing a culture of engagement with science in South Africa lies in its synergistic approach. SAASTA initiatives fall under three key strategic areas:
- Science Education, through which we build up the supply of tomorrow’s scientists and innovators;
- Science Awareness, through which we engage the public with the phenomena of science, engineering and technology,
- Science Communication, through which we share science and technology achievements with the public, building up their appreciation of benefits of science).
The three areas are interdependent, each enhancing the effectiveness of the other, while accommodating different target audiences and creating opportunities for joint initiatives across several government departments, higher education institutions, science councils, science centres and other science agencies.
Science advancement is integrated in every level of the business of the NRF. SAASTA, the National Research Facilities (that focus on the fields of astronomy, biodiversity and conservation, and nuclear sciences) and the Research, Innovation Support and Advancement office (that supports research, researchers and the provision of world-class research infrastructure through a grant-making programme) are implementing a cross-cutting science engagement plan.
To advance public awareness, appreciation of and engagement with science, technology, engineering, mathematics and innovation in South Africa.
SAASTA aims to be the leading science advancement agency communicating the value and impact of science and technology in a dynamic knowledge economy, and simultaneously building the science engineering technology human resource based in South Africa.