United States and S. Africa in a new science deal

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The US and South Africa have agreed to establish geospatial and earth observation joint working groups focusing on global change, sustainable development, energy, and health, the US Department of State said in a statement.

The agreement, among dozens of new collaborations, was reached at the first meeting of the Joint Commission on Science and Technology, held under the U.S.-South Africa Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement 24-29 February in Massachusetts and Washington, DC.

”A separate energy efficiency and renewable energy group will be formed to translate applied research to solving energy problems, and a health group will be formed to seek new collaborations in health sciences and biotechnology and to refocus anew on chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and malnutrition,” the statement said.

It said the South African agriculture biotechnology experts agreed to establish a partnership with the State of Massachusetts and exchange models and technologies and cooperate to develop human capital.

The 13-member South African delegation, led by Dr. Phil Mjwara of South Africa’s Department of Science and Technology, visited the Boston-area technology hub and met with Governor Deval Patrick and key members of his cabinet and the legislature.

The delegation met senior scientists and officials and toured the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Massachusetts at Boston, Harvard University, Northeastern University, Children’s Hospital, technology organisations, and hi-tech firms.

Throughout the visit, they discussed the role of government in stimulating scientific innovation, economic development, and job creation.

In Washington, Dr. Mjwara met with the Science and Technology Adviser to President Bush, Dr. John Marburger, the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Dr. Conrad Lautenbacher, and the Executive Officer of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. William Coleglazier.

Dr Mjwara also met with National Science Foundation Director Dr. Arden Bement Jr. and discussed ways to deepen cooperation in nanotechnology, education, and atmospheric and materials sciences.

Over two dozen additional meetings included eight federal agencies and several outside organisations, including the World Bank.

The day-long plenary was chaired by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Science, Space, and Health Jeff Miotke.

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