Dear SARIMA stakeholders,
The 2019 SARIMA Conference marked my last week as President of SARIMA, as I handed over officially to Therina Theron. It has been an honour, as well as privilege to serve on the SARIMA Committee since 2013, and I look forward to continue volunteering time to support the handover to Therina, and remain involved in areas where I feel I can contribute, as Past President.
The responsibility to lead SARIMA has been a wild ride for me, requiring significant time and hands on engagement. Nevertheless, I believe that SARIMA has made real progress in serving its member’s needs. More specifically, the efforts in terms of the professionalisation of the RM and IM disciplines is creating a context for a career pathway to be defined, enabling each of us to map our route to achieving professional status. The various skills development, benchmarking and experiential learning interventions of SARIMA are being mapped into this career development pathway, and I am sure the next Committee under Therina’s leadership will issue these as quickly as is practical, for your benefit. In addition to this, we have also actively moved some of our interventions and training programmes to an online format, and this we believe will enable a wider audience to access these interventions. A snapshot of some of the achievements of teh past two years includes:
Training and Best Practice Exchange
- RM had 500 participants in face to face activities/programmes, and piloted online courses with 50 participants
- I&TT had 100 participants in 8 webinars, and more than 500 researchers are “IPWise”
- The RM postfolio re-launched Research Deans and Director Forum, as well as the Research Managers Forums , in so doing reaching 120 participants
- The STORM & EARMA projects supported 20 reciprocal exchanges, and there was a SA department of Science and Innovation (previously Science and Technology) funded pilot of exchanges with emphasis on creating new industry links and associated networks, in the countries visited in the exchanges.
- The Science Granting Councils programme delivered mentorship for 15 Science Granting Councils across Africa
- There is a growing number Registered Tech Transfer Professionals – RTTPs – albeit building from a small base. Three individuals were awarded the RTTP status, and several Candidate RTTPs were registered.
- The Pilot RM professional recognition was concluded, with the first Senior Research Manager being accorded the processional status as result of the pilot.
We would like to alert you to the first open call for RM professional recognition, with a deadline end September.
The range and complexity of projects and programmes implemented by SARIMA has necessitated more sophistication in our Operations and Projects team, and I believe we have made great headway in this regard. One area that required significant attention was the need to verify the financial status of the organisation. We identified queries in the past financial statements, and embarked on a critical, labour intensive process of reconciling project and operational financials from 2014. I was delighted to be able to present a revised set of financial statements at the Biannual General Meeting that took place on 5 September, which showed a healthy surplus by the most recent financial year end. This surplus can support SARIMA’s investment into new activities and act as cash flow buffer should the need arise. I am most grateful to all who have put in the effort to ensure SARIMA’s ongoing financial viability.
The many achievements of SARIMA would not be possible without a fantastic, committed and passionate group of volunteers serving on the Committee and portfolios, as well as the Operations and Projects team. I thank them all from the bottom of my heart – it has been so amazing to work with you, and to experience your responsiveness on my many requests for folk to step into specific project lead roles, to persevere when projects are not getting off the ground, to step into teh breach when capacity challenges in the Operations and Projects teams necessitated this, and to drive ongoing improvements and new delivery mechanisms of our training programmes, forums and workshops. I so appreciate the effort of volunteers, who have had to find teh energy and time in between their day jobs, to provide their support. I am hopeful that over time, as SARIMA evolves to a more sophisticated offering to its members, its financial sustainability will enable appointment of more permanent team members dedicated to SARIMA’s activities, and thus lessen the load on volunteers.
I wish to also thank the funding partners of SARIMA. Without your support, we are unable to deliver to our members, and in so doing build expertise, experience and capacity so as to optimally impact the support provided to researchers and innovators in the institutions we serve.
On a final note, I wish Therina and her Committee, as well as the Operations and Projects team, everything of the best in taking SARIMA to the next level !
Ela Romanowska, RTTP.