The Competition Commission has launched a multidisciplinary research grant programme aimed at promoting multidisciplinary research at South African tertiary institutions that can inform and enhance competition law enforcement in the country.
The commission invites high-quality and substantive multidisciplinary research proposals relevant to competition law enforcement that may contribute to informing and improving enforcement in South Africa.
Research proposals must be submitted by January 31 and final adjudication will be concluded on February 28.
Presentation for selected papers will take place at the Competition Commission and Tribunal Annual Conference in October or November next year.
Research proposals can include insights into consumer behaviour and how this shapes actual competition, development of markets for data, while balancing privacy and security, algorithmic pricing within South Africa, including the benefits and harms of personal pricing using big data and cartel detection techniques and tools relevant to South Africa.
Further, the commission invites research proposals on how the protection of different constitutional rights might inform specific enforcement approaches and methodological and analytical approaches in the evaluation of public interest issues, including areas introduced by new amendments.
Proposals can also include the incorporation of gender or environmental issues in public interest and remedial design and efficacy, including an impact assessment of interventions, as well as enforcement approaches designed to foster growth and development.
The commission also invites proposals on criminalisation, fines and deterrent effects, and addressing competition issues in regulated sectors, and the use of regulation to address competition issues, as well as the design and building of enforcement institutions.
"In launching the programme, the commission hopes to stimulate multidisciplinary research on substantive issues facing competition law enforcement in this country and develop a new generation of academics that will continue to support research in this field in future," it states.
The initiative is responsive to the broad mandate derived from the Competition Act and new challenges to competition law enforcement that do not only demand a stronger research community in South Africa to debate and inform appropriate enforcement, but also demand a far more multidisciplinary approach which benefits from the technical expertise and insights from fields other than competition economics and law, it adds.
The number of grants to be awarded is subject to a budget cap. The evaluation process and criteria for acceptance of research proposals will be conducted by an academic reference group and an internal commission research grant committee.
The primary role of academic reference groups will be to ensure that the research proposals submitted meet a minimum standard for technical merit for the proposal, capacity building and technical capabilities of the research team. The combination of these factors will determine whether a proposal meets the minimum score required for acceptance.
The primary role of the internal research grant committee will be to assess enforcement relevance which is an additional factor considered for acceptance.
The academic reference group will comprise of senior members of the academic community and senior practitioners in the field, including former members of the commission, the Competition Tribunal and or the Competition Appeal Court.
The academic reference group will make recommendations of suitable research proposals to the research grant committee for collective decision-making on acceptance and the grant size.