Members of Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Science and Technology were given a snapshot of UCT's research output on a recent visit to the university, where various researchers outlined the work in their respective disciplines.
Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price and a team of UCT researchers set about convincing members of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Science and Technology of the invaluable way the university can contribute to the work they do as policymakers.
"One of the purposes of this visit is to remind you that you have on your doorstep an incredible resource, which we feel is underutilised by policymakers," Price said, expressing the hope that the visit would be the starting point of committee members feeling more comfortable with making demands on the university to support their work.
In his presentation he referred to the university as a "gem in South Africa's crown of research". He compared the university's function on the world stage being similar to that of the 2010 World Cup. "It persuades the world that the whole country is at a level of development and sophistication where the economy can cope with the most advanced innovations ... UCT is the flagship and representative of science in South Africa."
Price pointed out that much of the work that is done by UCT researchers falls within the "innovation sphere", with 95% of research addressing local problems and the university registering no fewer than 31 patents in the last year.
"The university also invests heavily in capacity development," Price stated, highlighting the fact that one third of the student population is postgraduate and that one third of UCT's doctoral students are from other African countries.
Dr Bevan Goqwana, committee chairman, agreed with Price's assessment of the university as being a resource for decision-makers like him.
"If we want to compete globally, we need to use what we have and know what we have. This is what caused us to accept the invitation to UCT ... We know there is no way you can dynamically bring about change in policies without research and development," he explained.
Professor Danie Visser, deputy vice-chancellor for research, gave an overview of the UCT's research activities, which was followed by presentations by research luminaries and laboratory tours to give committee members greater insight into the many areas in which they can expect assistance from UCT.