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Who We Are


Enabling and producing world-class research at the beginning of the knowledge chain to influence, enable, and catalyse, in partnership with government, industry, and civil society, for the social and economic good of Gauteng Province

Our Purpose

To mobilise and leverage our complementary resources and capabilities in research and education to foster collaborations that will create new knowledge, innovative solutions and build capability. All of this is aimed at addresses the complex societal challenges facing Gauteng and South Africa. In this way, we achieve what none of us could individually

    Goal areas
    • A progressive political landscape
    • Human development and equality
    • Research-based economic turnaround
    • Accelerated technology development and innovation
    • Social cohesion
    Guiding Principles

    In fulfilling our purpose, we:

    • Are agents of change and catalysts for transformative futures;
    • Embrace a philosophy of mutual benefit—within the GRT collaboration, and across stakeholders;
    • Ensure that our research, education and learning is ethical and relevant to the challenges at hand, seeking to create solutions and build capability that are context specific and sustainable;
    • Adopt appropriate thinking and integrated approaches as we deal with complexities inherent to the developmental challenges we face;
    • We establish a maturity model that will measure aspects of research-enabled progress in Gauteng;
    • Embed collaboration and transdisciplinarity for innovative approaches and solutions;
    • Mobilise and harness partnership for greater leverage, innovation, and impact; and,
    • Maintain a continuous pursuit of quality and excellence

    In April 2019, Vice Chancellors (VCs) of the University of Johannesburg (UJ), the University of Pretoria (UP), and the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (Wits) agreed to explore opportunities and possibilities for establishing a globally competitive research collaborative in Gauteng between the three institutions. It was essential that the research consortium set goals to address challenges facing society, maximise the combined forces of the three universities, on a sufficiently audacious scale and in a win-win-win spirit of collegiality and equitability.

    During 2019, there was significant and robust discussion around the employment of research themes for the GRT. It was agreed that the Sustainable Development Goals, and specifically their intersection with key African development agendas (such as Agenda 2063) and the South African National Development Plan (NDP), should provide a high-level framework for problem identification and the focus of the GRT. Regardless of themes selected, to achieve the type of big dream and large-scale transformation envisaged for the GRT, it would be necessary to focus on innovations around collaboration and modalities for partnering.

    After a comprehensive mapping exercise of institutional strengths measured against these development agendas, a core project was selected: the GRT would work to establish a large-scale urban-based health and demographic surveillance site (HDSS) in the Gauteng Province. The site, which would have 2-3 carefully selected sub-sites (to span socio-economic classes and include sites in both Pretoria and Johannesburg), would provide an umbrella for multi-disciplinary, longitudinal research on South African urban systems. Under the umbrella of urban systems, the GRT would be able to undertake a wide range of development-related, problem-focused research linked to SDGs and national areas of priority.

    The GRT Vice Chancellors suggested that in addition to the urban demographic site, the Gauteng Research Triangle should incorporate a limited number of other activities. These included mining and engineering, the so-called fourth industrial revolution (4IR), astrophysics and astronomy, and community health.

    By late 2019, Prof David Everatt was nominated as Principal Investigator for the GRT bid to the South African Population Research Infrastructure Network (SAPRIN) which hosts a network of HDSSs in South Africa. In 2020, the GRT was announced as the winner of the bid, under the project entitled: the Gauteng Research Triangle Initiative for the Study of Population, Infrastructure, and Regional Economic Development (GRT-INSPIRED) project. The name of the project indicated the GRT ambition to broaden the scope and coverage of the HDSS concept.

    By mid-2020, the working groups for the themes of astrophysics and astronomy (the astroGRT), a network of university museums, and mining and minerals engineering were established and working towards their first collaborative projects.

    GRT People

    The GRT governance model is as follows:


    • Prof Tawana Kupe, Prof TshIlidzi Marwala, Prof Zeblon Vilakazi,
    Steering Committee:
    • Frans Swanepoel (Chairperson, UP)
    • Martin Veller (Wits)
    • Imraan Valodia (Wits)
    • Sehaam Khan (UJ)
    • Sunil Maharaj (UP)
    • Daniel Mashao (UJ)
    • GRT-INSPIRED Principal Investigator: David Everatt (Wits)
    • astroGRT: Roger Deane (Wits)
    • Network of University Museums: Nithaya Chetty (Wits)
    • Mining and minerals engineering: Daniel Mashao (UJ)

    What our success will look like

    • Cities and settlements are safe, liveable, and smart
    • The economy is vibrant, Gauteng is the unrivalled engine of the south African and African continent’s economies
    • Innovation abounds in a virtuous cycle of learning and success—coupled with a transition to skilled and knowledge work
    • Gauteng is a clear reflection of sustainability and resilience
    South African Population Research Infrastructure Network: A National Research Infrastructure of Health and Demographic Surveillance System (HDSS) Nodes.
    Purpose of SAPRIN
    To collecting data that will help us to understand the changes in Hillbrow area over time. We will be able to understand the people of Hillbrow (for example, how many children are born here every year), their needs, and how to improve the community. Residence status, migrations births and deaths, education status, immunizations, food security, employment, housing, asset ownership, access to energy, water and sanitation etc. Please see link to SAPRIN brief overview
    Objectives and Intended Outcomes
    To support major improvements in health, social and economic wellbeing in impoverished populations. An important purpose is to provide an integral connection between the new evidence from the research platform and government ministries, both line-function ministries like the Departments of Health, Social Development, Home Affairs, and Basic Education, and cross-cutting ministries like the Presidency (Dept. of Planning Monitoring and Education) and Statistics South Africa. The data gathered will help to identify issues affecting urban South Africa, and enable SAPRIN project to plan new research, intervention projects and best ways to address existing issues.