Background The University of Cape Verde (Uni-CV) was founded in 2006 and since then has developed an effective international strategy that is enhancing the teaching and research culture of the university. To build capacity in the public health field, Uni-CV has established collaborations with the University of Leicester (UoL), UK, and with the Institute of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (IHTM – NOVA University), Portugal. These follow different approaches. Methods Different type of capacity building initiatives focused on researchers and postgraduate students. Results The collaboration with UoL was established in 2016 and builds on funded research programmes in infectious disease and evolution of antimicrobial drug resistance (AMR). These programmes have allowed technology development and transfer, which offer the opportunity for undergraduate students to lead laboratory–based research projects at Uni-CV. In these two years, we have successfully characterised the epidemiology and patterns of AMR underlying Helicobacter pylori infections in Cape Verde. Beyond the research outputs, we have trained four undergraduates in laboratory-based microbiology at Uni-CV. From this experience, we are currently designing new sustainable higher education programmes aligned with the MSc in Public health at Uni-CV that aim to support Uni-CV lecturers in the supervision of postgraduate students, either independently or in collaboration with UoL researchers. The collaboration with IHTM was established in 2008 with the main aim of developing the research capacity of Cape Verde researchers and health professionals in infection and vector-born diseases and in bioethics. These activities have also led to collaborative research in these areas. Since then, six training courses were taught that benefited ∼20 Uni-CV lecturers and ∼100 government professionals. Conclusion Although these collaborative approaches are different in nature, they have been successful in the training of health professionals, researchers and technicians in Cape Verde and have contributed to the establishment of mutually beneficial research programmes.