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​In the 1970's Rupert International raised the possibility of creating a facility for futures studies at the Stellenbosch University and in 1974 the Unit for Futures Research (UFR) is established as part of the University of Stellenbosch's Bureau for Economic Research. In 1976 the UFR publishes the first strategic overview of the South African Business environment for its Associates. Titled: A review of Some Long-term Trends in South Africa. In 1980 the UFR changed focus from strategic planning to a strategic management approach. During 1984 the unit was reconstituted into a fully fletched institute, the Institute for Futures Research (IFR) and published the first Business Futures publication.

The IFR is also the first and only Futures Institute of its kind on the African continent. Under new leadership, it was restructured in 2016, which resulted in the refocus of its research environments and service offering and the rebranding of the institute.​​

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