Research Grants

Funding grants is the main mechanism for achieving the objectives of the Foundational Biodiversity Information Programme (FBIP). The grants must result in the release of data to the FBIP / SANBI for archiving, integration, management and dissemination. The data / knowledge should be clearly and directly linked to the main focus of the Programme (bio-economy and global change).

FBIP projects should generate or mobilize the following types of data

Species Occurrence

Biodiversity surveys, capture of data from specimens in collections

Species identity

DNA barcoding, other identification tools

Population abundance

Quantified surveys

Genetic diversity

Phylogenetic distance, population genetics.

Species attributes

Photos / illustrations, biology, importance to people including cultural significance, functional role in ecosystem, and interactions with other species

NRF Research Grants

Large Grants

The range of funding available per project is R500,000 to R1.5 million per annum for a three-year period (R1,500,000 – R4,500,000 in total per project). The grant covers research operating costs and postdoctoral fellowships and excludes postgraduate student support which will be covered separately by the NRF’s Postgraduate Student Funding.

The large projects should align with knowledge needs, or should involve participants along the entire value chain from knowledge generation to application for decision-making. These projects should also include postgraduate students and emerging researchers, and the up-skilling of researchers and practitioners who use the data generated. The projects must generate or mobilize species occurrence data, DNA barcode data, and descriptive information on species, and should ensure that the knowledge is co-ordinated, managed and disseminated through appropriate structures and systems.

 Programme Focus area:

Projects falling within the seven focus areas have been identified for support. The Programme focus areas for Large grants are listed in the FBIP Call Framework document (Section 4.2.1, Page 13 & 14).

Application process:

Two-step process: The application for funding is a two-step process managed through the NRF:

  1. Concept Notes: Evaluation and selection for full development (Review Period 1); Concept Notes will be assessed by a panel within 2 months after the closing date and a limited number (usually 2-4) will be selected for further development into full proposals in the same year.
  2. Development of Full Proposals: Successful Concept Note applicants will be invited to submit full proposals (Review Period 2); Evaluation and selection of 1 to 2 full proposals for funding for a three-year period (implemented in 2022-2024).

 The NRF publishes the One Call for applications for funding in February 2021 (Review Period 1). The One Call includes applications for Concept Notes (Review Period 1) which must be submitted electronically via the NRF Online Submission System at

For more information and deadlines for the One Call for Applications for funding, please refer to the NRF General Application Guide 2022.

Applicants applying for FBIP grants must read the FBIP Framework and Funding Guide and FBIP Concept Note Application Instructions to make sure that all the essential information is submitted through the proposals.

Small Grants

Smaller grants ranging from R50 000 to R250 000 are awarded. The small grant funding period has been extended to a maximum of two years. These grants can be used for taxonomic research, mobilisation of primary data (specimen records), generation of DNA barcodes, compiling species information or for data management/dissemination innovations.

Application process:

There are two application windows for FBIP Small Grants (Review Period 1 & 2). Applications for FBIP Small Grants (Review Period 1) must be submitted electronically on the NRF Online Submission System. Applications for Review Period 2 will be published later.

For more information about the process, the number of applications allowed within a call year and cut-off dates, please refer to the NRF General Application Guide 2022.

Applicants applying for FBIP Small Grants must read the FBIP Framework and Funding Guide and FBIP Small Grant Application Instructions to make sure that all the essential information is submitted through the proposals.

Ad hoc Research Grants

Through operational savings, funds were available in 2016 for grants for accelerated data mobilisation projects that would contribute directly to achieving the targets of the Programme. These grants were additional to the FBIP research grants called for through the NRF. The call, managed through SANBI, closed on 29 April 2016 and grants of up to R300 000 were available for support over a one year period. From the 29 applications received, 14 projects were selected through a panel review process on 8 June 2016. The total amount of funding allocated for these grants were R 2 368 799.

Projects providing the following outputs were considered: (1) Collection specimen data mobilisation: either (i) basic data capture for collections not yet databased, according to the Darwin core standard, or (ii) upgrading of existing data to meet Darwin core standard and / or georeferencing according to set standards and / or taxonomic verification of specimen identity or (iii) digistization (photographing) of type specimens; (2) Compilation of species pages: according to the requirements set by the FBIP, for taxa where species pages have not yet been compiled; (3) DNA barcoding of species: according to the IBOL and BOLD requirements and to be submitted to BOLD, for species which have no entries or fewer than 5 specimens currently in BOLD.