Strategic Health Innovation Partnerships

The Strategic Health Innovation Partnerships (SHIP) - a partnership between the SAMRC and the Department of Science and Technology - funds and manages innovation projects focused on the development of new drugs, treatments, vaccines, medical devices and prevention strategies.

The Unit provides life-saving innovations to the health industry and the South African public through involvement in developing new and improved treatment options.

What does SHIP do?
  • Actively manage and coordinate health innovation in South Africa within the strategic disease and technology focus areas
  • Seek, manage and fund multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional product research, development and innovation projects from discovery to proof-of-concept
  • Enhance the capacity of South African science in the research and development of novel or improved drugs, vaccines and other biologicals, diagnostics and medical devices in the identified priority diseases
  • Facilitate, through partnerships with local universities, science councils and the private sector, the transfer of research outputs into improved health outcomes and/or social benefit
  • Ensure that SHIP research is globally aligned and competitive through collaboration with other PDPs, such as MMV, AERAS, etc.
  • Along with the Technology Transfer Office, develop pathways to facilitate the seamless movement of new products and services from the laboratory to the marketplace
  • Augment gaps in the innovation pipeline by leveraging non-financial resources
SHIP is a health technology Product Development Partnership, supported by the DST that is:
  • Changing the way health research, development and innovation are managed, funded and conducted in South Africa
  • Managing the DST’s strategic health innovation initiatives in HIV, TB, malaria, non-communicable diseases, and maternal and child health, the NDoH SAAVI allocation for HIV vaccines, and the BMGF-MRC partnership on TB and HIV vaccines   
  • Leveraging local and international funding by acting as a central conduit for foreign institutions seeking to partner with South African research agencies

SHIP projects are funded under a number of Programme areas that include:

  • HIV
  • TB Vaccines
  • TB Diagnostics
  • Drug Discovery
  • Prevention Medicine
  • Non-communicable Diseases
  • Maternal and Child Health
  • Medical Devices

Click here to learn how SHIP fits into the innovation landscape


SHIP uses competitive open calls to identify projects for funding within its strategic areas. All applications are subjected to rigorous international peer review and selection processes and awardees are approved by the SHIP Steering Committee comprising representatives from the SAMRC/SHIP, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Health, and the BMGF.

View current Requests for Applications (RFA)

Previous RFAs completed by SHIP include:

  • Drugs and Medical Devices - Awards made: 14 February 2014
  • Tuberculosis Vaccines, HIV Vaccines and HIV Prevention - Awards made: April 2014
  • Platinum Group Metal (PGM)-Based Drug Discovery and Medical Device Development. Awards made: July 2014
  • The South African and UK Medical Research Councils’ (Newton Fund) Request for Applications to support tuberculosis control implementation science partnerships - Closed
  • The South African and UK Medical Research Councils (Newton Fund) and GSK’s Request for Applications on Non Communicable Diseases in Africa - Closed
  • Grand Challenges South Africa: All Children Thriving - Call for Applications - Closed