We work with research institutions because we regard ourselves also as a research institution, although that is not all that we do. Nova’s approach to science is discussed under the headings Together with and Process.
On 9 October 1992 the newly established Nova Institute made an agreement with the Institute for Missiological and Ecumenical Research (IMER) at the Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, to co-operate as and when opportunities presented themselves. This agreement came into effect when Attie van Niekerk, who was the only Nova employee at the time, was appointed on a part-time basis at the Department of Missiology. Since that time he has worked for both Nova fand the Department and several of the Nova staff members – Christiaan Pauw, Montagu Murray, Hendrik Snyman, Pierre Reyneke, Alex Howard and Jakkie Strachan– became interested in Nova via this route. Christiaan and Montagu also lectured at the university on a part-time basis, and Nova’s offices were at the Faculty from 2006 to 2008, when we decided to make our independence more visible by moving to separate offices off-campus.
The co-operation between Nova and IMER was embodied in the Functional Household Program (FHP) at the Faculty of Theology. Nova’s contracts with industries qualified it for funding from THRIP (Technology and Human Resources for Industry Programme) of the national government’s Department of Trade and Industry. The Department instituted THRIP to support research and development that would promote the competitiveness of industries in the country. In September 2005 the FHP received the THRIP Excellence Award for Social Development from the minister of Trade and Industry. This award acknowledges that the FHP has developed an approach that is to the advantage of both industry and the society. Nova maintains good relations with the Faculty of Theology and we are looking at ways to formalise the relationship in future.
Over the years we have also developed strong working relationships with other researchers, knowledge institutions and specialists like the CSIR, the North-West University and EScience Associates. We have worked with researchers from a variety of disciplines: engineering, architecture, health sciences, agriculture, plant science, economics, anthropology and psychology.
We are also building a network in Europe. Since 2007 there have been 14 pre-graduate students, one Honour’s degree student and nine Master’s degree students from different universities in the Netherlands who did practical work with us. In 2013 we decided not to take pre-graduate students anymore, but to invite only Master’s degree students from specific departments, and to build relations with these departments and eventually to form consortiums for bigger research projects. This strategy has worked well so far and is gaining momentum.