SLU news

South Africa – an important research ally for SLU and Sweden

Published: 27 March 2023

International research collaborations are important for development both in Sweden and in our partner countries. Africa in general and South Africa specifically are important partners for Sweden and SLU in this. During this week, SLU's management and a team of researchers are travelling to South Africa to participate in the Research and Innovation Week 2023, organised by the South Africa-Sweden University Forum (SASUF).

The Research and Innovation Week is a concept of bringing together researchers, teachers, students and university management representatives from all the 40 SASUF partner universities. The week is divided into two parts: Satellite events taking place across South Africa, and the Sustainability Forum hosted by University of the Western Cape.

SLU well represented in South Africa

SLU’s Vice-Chancellor Maria Knutsson Wedel and Pro Vice-Chancellor, international relations, Ylva Hillbur are participating in the R&I Week. With them is a 15-person delegation of SLU researchers and a student also attending the various events.

Erik Alexandersson at the Department of Plant Breeding is one of the researchers. He will give a talk about the global status of biologicals, and participate in a panel discussion to talk about the opportunities he sees in SASUF.

– I look forward to meeting both former and future South African colleagues. The Research and Innovation week has previously given a broad and interdisciplinary view of research in both countries, which has been very fruitful.

– We are for example working on non-invasive remote sensing for food safety, urban planning and agricultural production where the techniques are partly similar but research questions very different. We also have a satellite event on agricultural biologicals for plant protection and growth where the challenges and needs are partly the same, partly very different in the two countries, says Erik.

SLU Global asked Ylva Hillbur about her expectations

What does this cooperation with universities in South Africa mean for SLU and Sweden?

– SASUF is an excellent and dynamic arena for broad interdisciplinary discussions between researchers from almost all South African and Swedish universities. We have seen, as a result from previous iterations of the Research and Innovation Week, the development of several interesting and innovative ideas and projects in totally new constellations, that would probably not have met if it weren’t for the opportunity provided through SASUF.

What are your expectations of the meetings?

To learn more about research and higher education system in South Africa. Also to consolidate existing and potentially initiate new collaborations. Our Vice-Chancellor will sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Nelson Mandela University with whom we have strong collaborative ties both in research and education.

– The strong focus on sustainability aligns well with SLU’s vision and strategy and SLU researchers and partners have been very successful in securing SASUF seed money for developing collaborative projects and activities. I am thus excited to go and very much look forward to the outcomes of this week, Ylva concludes.

Thank you, we wish you and all the SLU staff a fruitful week in South Africa!

SLU – a co-organiser

During the week of 2023 there are several SLU co-organised satellite events and workshops in the Sustainabilty Forum.

SLU co-organised satellite events 27-28 March
The Satellite Events are organised across South Africa and some are also hybrid/online. These events are free and open to everyone.

SLU co-organised workshops in the Sustainability Forum 29-31 March
These events are only open for delegates and held at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town.

  • Mitigating the spread of antibiotic resistance and pathogens in the environment
  • Sustainable water management for rural and urban development and food security in the context of climate action
  • Remote Sensing & Multispectral imaging for Sustainable Development
  • Manage Session Food systems in the face of climate and exogenous shocks: Building back better for increased resilience
  • Pollination ecology and insect biotechnology
  • Translating the lessons we have learned from the Covid-19 era into the work of PhD studies and social justice considerations
  • Use of DNA sequencing technologies and integrated data management to ensure the health security of Sweden and South Africa

SASUF Student Network

During the R&I week there will be a parallel programme for the SASUF Student Network. Ana Reverter Perdiz is the student representative from SLU and she will be participating in the student events. Ana will make posts on SLU Global’s Instagram during the week and write a blog post afterwards. Keep an eye on our channels to follow Ana and the other students’ activities in South Africa.


The Research and Innovation Week 2023

The week is focusing on 6 sub-themes:

  • Climate change, natural resources and sustainability
  • Education for a sustainable society
  • Social transformation through change: Knowledge and social development strategies
  • Health - Understanding the burden of disease in Sweden and South Africa
  • Sustainable urbanisation, travel and tourism in the 21st Century
  • Digital technologies, big data and cybersecurity

The Research and Innovation Week 2024

In 2024,  Lund University, Malmö University and SLU will be welcoming everyone to SASUF R&I Week 2024. There will be a full day programme on Alnarp campus.

Funding opportunities


Contact person for SASUF at SLU

Paul Egan, Associate Professor/ Researcher
Department of Plant Protection Biology
Telephone: +46 (0) 40-415162