The National Advisory Council on Innovation (NACI) in conjunction with the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and the HSRC Centre for Science, Technology & Innovation Indicators (CeSTII) launched the SA Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators report on 28 August 2020 (view report here).
Glenda Kruss (HSRC CeSTII) and her team are developing additional indicators for innovation, or rather new data sets relevant to SA and Africa to support Innovation Policy development – interesting and relevant work for the SARIMA community. She categorised the 17 Sustainable Development Goals under each of the six African Union Development Priorities for Science & Technology Strategy for Africa 2024 (STISA-2024) showing their alignment. The STISA-2024 goals are:
- eradicate hunger and ensure food and nutrition security;
- prevent and control diseases and ensure well-being
- communication (mobility)
- protect our space (clean energy, climate, environment)
- live together, build society
- create wealth, inclusive economic growth
Her team has also done some interesting work [also on how to] tracking innovation in a rural community informal business sector (food).
An interesting comment made by Dr Phil Mjwara – DG DSI – was the comparison of the relationship between Universities or Science Councils and State-Owned Entities (SOEs) during sanctions era and now. As he stressed, although the sanctions period had many other undesirable characteristics, the relationships at that time were very close and enabled strong technology to be developed (e.g. defence / Denel, etc.) whereas this has completely dissipated and is partly why the SOEs are failing.
The focus appears to be turning towards improving the “demand-side” of innovation – as opposed to the supply side, which the DSI has put considerable resources into over a prolonged period. The absorptive capacity of industry and government procurement are key drivers in the space, and this is where the DTIC (formerly Department of Trade and Industry) can also play a role. We need to encourage local industry to source technologies from local universities, partnering with them to overcome challenges. It is staggering that only 1.2% of the industrial sector acquires information for innovation from universities. The industry is very reliant on industry associations for innovation information (based on the data presented) and technology transfer offices (TTOs) need to note this useful route into different sectors. SARIMA is hoping to support TTOs exhibiting at different industry expos and trade shows, as done in the past couple of years, through a further round of funding support provided by the DSI.
Written by Dr Andrew Bailey, SARIMA President-Elect; Senior Innovation Manager, University of Cape Town, South Africa