Analysis | International innovation collaboration activity by SA businesses

Innovation is widely recognised as a key ingredient in the growth of economies. At firm level, it is equally vital as a capability for businesses to cooperate and compete. International collaboration occurs when enterprises work together across borders with partners on joint innovation projects and is one way that businesses can optimise the innovation process on a much wider level.

Drawing on the latest available national South African innovation and R&D data, this fact sheet shows that while some South African businesses already collaborate internationally on innovation, more collaborate through local innovation partnerships, which includes R&D partnerships. As such, potential opportunities exist for more South African firms to share skills, risk, and resources by expanding joint work with international partners. Where international collaboration is not taking place, the barriers preventing it need to be understood and addressed at policy level.

Behind the numbers

Data for this fact sheet is drawn from the South African Business Innovation Survey, 2014-2016 and South African National Survey of Research and Experimental Development Inputs (R&D Survey) 2019/20. Both surveys were conducted by the Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators (CeSTII) at South Africa’s Human Sciences Research Council, on behalf of the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI). R&D and innovation statistics are collected in terms of the Statistics Act No. 6 of 1999, and are quality assured by Statistics South Africa.

Data collected through the surveys, and their historic data series, inform decision-makers on investment planning, policy-making, advocacy, and research in South Africa. Data streams also add to benchmarking and performance comparisons with our international counterparts. Please note that some indicator totals may be subject to rounding errors.

Access previous R&D and innovation survey reports

Seminar | The impact of innovation on productivity in South African manufacturing and services businesses*

The South African manufacturing and services sectors remain squarely in the crosshairs of economic and industrial policy makers and, equally, business leaders and sector analysts. Whether to stimulate much-needed growth, as in the case of the manufacturing sector, or to adapt to widespread technological change, as in the case of services firms, the argument for a reimagined industrial strategy could not be more compelling or urgent.

In this context, innovation is centrally positioned as both a key engine of development and a catalyst for growth. However, little is known about the impacts of innovation on productivity in manufacturing and services businesses in South Africa, with studies focussing mainly on the role of R&D.

Showcasing new econometric modelling, using data from the South African Business Innovation Survey, 2014-2016, the seminar will delve into relationships between different types of technological and non-technological innovation and business productivity. Policy issues and questions for discussion with national and sector stakeholders include: what factors or firm characteristics influence the decision to innovate? What support mechanisms incentivise innovation? Is the relationship between innovation and productivity always positive?

Date: 23 June 2021 | Time: 12h30 – 14h00 | Hosted on: Zoom

RSVP required by 21 June 2021

Moderator: Godfrey Mashamba, Deputy Director-General: Evaluation, Evidence and Knowledge Systems, Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME)

Discussant: Saul Levin, Director: Trade and Industrial Policy Strategies (TIPS)

Presenters:

Dr Amy Kahn project manages the Business Innovation Survey at CeSTII. Her research at CeSTII has focused primarily on R&D, innovation and productivity in South African firms. She graduated with a PhD in Economics at the University of Cape Town in 2020 and has several years of experience running large scale socio-economic surveys in South Africa and East Africa.

Dr Atoko Kasongo is a statistician in CeSTII providing statistical support to all Centre projects. She has a research interest in R&D and innovation, as well as financial sector economics. She graduated with a PhD in Economics at the University of the Western Cape Town in April 2020, and has many years of experience in the academic arena working as a lecturer.

This seminar is funded by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI). The views and opinions expressed therein as well as findings and statements of the seminar series do not necessarily represent the views of the DSI.  Please also note that this seminar may be recorded and published on the HSRC podcast channel.

*Image credit: GCIS

Policy Forum | Is the Western Cape establishing a regional culture of innovation conducive to the needs of business?

The Western Cape Workshop of the National Advisory Council on Innovation’s Provincial Roadshow took place place at InvestSA on 10 September 2019.

Scene-settingProf Crain Soudien (CEO, HSRC) and Dr Mlungisi Cele (Acting CEO: NACI)

South Africa STI Indicators 2019Dr Petrus Letaba (NACI)

Business panel: Critical needs in the Western Cape provincial innovation system, Facilitated by Tim Harris (CEO, WESGRO)

Government panel: How government is creating a regional innovation culture, Facilitated by Dr Glenda Kruss (Executive Head, CeSTII) 

*Video courtesy of the HSRC’s Impact Centre. Special thanks to Antonio Erasmus.

Final Programme & Speakers

Why this event, now?

The 2014-2019 Western Cape Provincial Strategic Plan foregrounds innovation as one of its key economic development goals.

It is necessary to nurture innovation as a key objective within the economic development sphere,” the Plan states.

The objective will be to develop new types of approaches, solutions, processes and materials which will have the potential to clearly identify the region as one which is conducive to creativity, innovation and design. We seek to establish a regional culture that supports and evokes industry collaboration and to scale sustainability, innovations and technology. (p.16)

As the Plan’s strategic cycle draws to a close, the launch of the National Advisory Council on Innovation’s 2019 STI Indicators report, as part of its provincial roadshows, provides an excellent opportunity for critical reflection on progress toward these goals and an opportunity to highlight plans for the new 5-year strategic cycle.

Nested within a national systems of innovation perspective, but with a clear focus on the provincial lens, the programme is designed to catalyse a reflective and formative conversation, between and across sectors, with key business and government stakeholders sharing needs, programming and strategy lessons, and ideas for the future.

About the 2019 NACI Provincial Roadshow: The NACI report assesses STI performance in terms of quality of life and wealth creation, enabled by business performance through innovation, a framework informed by the National R&D Strategy of 2002. In 2019, we invite thought leaders and decision-makers from business principally, but also government and industry associations, to consider their experiences and challenges, to highlight critical issues for measurement and policy-making going forward.

Key questions

  • What does an innovative regional government look like and why is this important in the regional innovation system?
  • What does a regional culture of innovation that is conducive to the needs of diverse industries and the businesses within them look like and how can a region be positioned as an innovative region?
  • How is the Western Cape regional innovation system performing in terms of providing an enabling environment for innovation in order for Western Cape businesses to remain competitive and to create opportunities for job creation and economic growth?
  • How does the structure of industries nationally enhance or circumscribe provincial innovation, particularly in terms of human capabilities and networks?
  • Is the Western Cape geared to respond to new urgencies and global challenges, such as environmental change, and how can business innovation stakeholders play a more active role in this respect?

More info?

  • Gerard Ralphs gralphs[at]hsrc.ac.za | 021 466 8000

*Image credit: Cape Town Film Studios: https://www.capetownfilmstudios.co.za

Call for Participation | Innovation Data UserX Design Hackathon

The Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators (CeSTII) and the National Advisory Council on Innovation (NACI) are pleased to invite participation in an innovation data hackathon taking place from 11-13 September 2018.

Express interest now. Registrations close Friday 31 August 2018.

The event will be hosted as part of the 2018 South African Innovation Summit at the Cape Town Stadium.

Our focus? Developing brand new experiences for users of business innovation survey data within the National Science, Technology and Innovation Information Portal (NSTIIP).

“By working in new and creative ways with user communities such as firms, policy makers, media houses, and researchers, this effort represents a significant opportunity for CeSTII to widen participation in and deepen knowledge of the country’s innovation data, which is vital to a more innovative South Africa,” says CeSTII director, Dr Glenda Kruss.

Join a hackathon team, or join the audience

There are limited spaces for individuals to join a multidisciplinary hackathon team of six people per team, and to take part in a facilitated process including a technical briefing, hands-on team mentorship by experts, and a final pitch and judge session.

“NACI will incorporate the inputs from the multidisciplinary teams that are participating at this hackathon event to improve the user experiences of the NSTIIP and also for its upscaling,” says Dr Petrus Letaba, the NSTIIP’s project manager.

Download 2-page hackathon challenge and programme pdf

But there is also an option for interested parties to join the hackathon audience as ‘critical friends’.

“We know that businesses, industry associations, government policymakers, research institutions and the media all have a stake in a strong national innovation dataset,” says hackathon lead facilitator, Dr Pieter Van Heyningen.

“So we are also looking for a strong cohort of people from these groups to help us guide the teams, either as active mentors or as part of our hackathon audience for the opening and closing sessions.”

Says Van Heyningen: “This hackathon is in fact a rare chance for researchers, innovation managers, journalists, creatives, and web developers from diverse sectoral backgrounds, working in a fully catered for space, to rapidly expand their networks and collaboration capacities, while making innovation data work better for the user groups that need it most.”

Hackathon contacts

For more information or if you have questions, write to:

  • Gerard Ralphs, Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators, Human Sciences Research Council gralphs[at]hsrc.ac.za, 021 466 8000
  • Dr Petrus Letaba, National Advisory Council on Innovation, petrus.letaba[at]dst.gov.za
  • Dr Pieter Van Heyningen, SustNet, pieter@sustnet.com

Analysis | How South Africa’s services sector can help tackle poverty and inequality

About two thirds of South Africa’s GDP now consists of contributions from the services sector, which ranges from banks and insurance companies to tourism, hospitality and personal services. This means that policymakers, industry leaders, lobbyists and small business owners should all be concerned about the sector’s potential to fix the biggest challenges facing the South African economy – poverty and inequality.

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[Image credit: Shutterstock]

Glenda Kruss, Human Sciences Research Council and Dr Moses Sithole, Human Sciences Research Council

About two thirds of South Africa’s GDP now consists of contributions from the services sector, which ranges from banks and insurance companies to tourism, hospitality and personal services. This means that policymakers, industry leaders, lobbyists and small business owners should all be concerned about the sector’s potential to fix the biggest challenges facing the South African economy – poverty and inequality.

For a long time commentators believed that an economy can only diversify and grow through following a model of industrialisation. But there’s a growing consensus that the services sector can contribute to economic transformation in emerging economies.

The South African services sector has traditionally involved low-tech activities. Examples include food, personal or legal services. These are limited to domestic markets which means that, for the most part, they can’t be traded or exported.

But recent technology developments have led to a raft of a modern and tradable set of service industries that are delivered digitally. These have popped up in different areas, like finance, transport, hospitality and information, communication and technology.

On top of this, technology has disrupted traditionally non-tradable service industries. Examples include Takealot.com, GetSmarter, and of course, Uber and Airbnb. All of them are models that show how technology and big data can lead to sectors being completely disrupted and overhauled, creating new types of enterprises and jobs.

Unfortunately, debates about changing South Africa’s economy usually ignore these developments and the role that innovation and technology can play in transforming the services sector.

Innovation in South Africa

Innovation refers to the introduction of a new good or service (product), a process, or a new organisational or marketing method. It can be new to the firm, the market or the world. Innovation in services has a strong human dimension, selling, marketing and delivery are critical, as well as close customer integration.

Using data collected by the Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators, which does surveys on behalf of the Department of Science and Technology, we pieced together an understanding of the innovation dynamics in the finance and the wholesale and retail sectors. These are the service sectors that contribute most to GDP.

We discovered trends that show there’s huge potential for innovation across the services sector.

Data from 2010-2012 suggests a healthy scale of innovation in South African services sector firms. This is particularly true, but isn’t confined to, financial services where one of the most prevalent innovations was in marketing.

We also found significant innovation trends in wholesale and retail, where a higher proportion of firms produced products that were new to the market.

The finance firms spent almost seven times more on innovation activities. Their innovation expenditure as a proportion of their turnover was likewise seven times greater.

Both sub-sectors received almost the same turnover from sales of new to the market products– around 17%. This suggests that there may be a greater return on innovation investment for the wholesale and retail firms, which spend less.

Comparing the two services sub-sectors also suggests that there are a variety of ways that innovations can be implemented.

Incremental innovation, through small improvements that build on one another, was more prevalent in the wholesale and retail firms. This took the form of training and investment in new machinery. Finance firms also spent on incremental innovation. But they were more likely to conduct R&D in-house.

All of these firms experience barriers to innovating on a large scale. The main ones were market uncertainty, competition and lack of qualified people. Firms that innovate in the two sub-sectors experience these barriers in different combinations and scales.

Potential impact

There is significant potential for globally competitive and local job-creating services firms that could help South Africa’s economy grow in different ways.

Haroon Bhorat, director of the Development Policy Unit at the University of Cape Town, and other academics argue that South Africa’s services sector needs to become more export orientated so that it can access larger global markets. This in turn, they argue, will drive structural transformation so that our economy does not over-rely on the traditional mining or agriculture sectors, and will grow local employment.

Currently, South Africa lags behind other emerging economies when it comes to expenditure on R&D and innovation. But a shift will require businesses to get involved in more innovation and knowledge intensive activities. These, in turn, need support from public funds.

The Department of Science and Technology is developing a new policy framework on science, technology and innovation. Current policy tends mostly to support R&D driven innovation, for example, through a tax incentive for expenditure on R&D. But there’s room for more interventions through incentives to support improvements in production systems, branding and marketing activities, as well as export promotion.

*Cheryl Moses, Hlamulo Makelane, Precious Mudavanhu and Gerard Ralphs contributed research and writing.

Glenda Kruss, Doctor, Human Sciences Research Council and Dr Moses Sithole, Chief Research Specialist: HSRC’s Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators, Human Sciences Research Council

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

 

Event | Tweets and slides from Industry Associations Innovation Day 2018

On 25 May 2018, about 60 industry association leaders, government officials, researchers and entrepreneurs gathered at Gauteng’s Riversands Incubation Hub. On the agenda? Innovation, government and Industry 4.0. This post shares the final programme and speaker list, presentations and Tweets from @HSRC_CeSTII.

IAID
Image credit: Department of Science and Technology

Programme and speakers

Did you attend? Rate your experience

Slides

How much R&D and innovation goes on in South Africa, and how we know this – Dr Glenda Kruss & Dr Moses Sithole, Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators, Human Sciences Research Council

How industry/businesses can leverage CSIR platforms for innovation – Kobus Roux, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research

Tweets

 

Analysis | Innovation in services: The potential to contribute to structural economic transformation

Contrary to the view that diversification and structural change only result from industrialisation, there is growing consensus that the services sector can contribute to economic transformation in emerging economies. This is potentially good news for South Africa given the growth of the services sector to 65% of GDP by 2014, and the proliferation of Industry 4.0. This Research Brief uses data from the Business Innovation Survey 2010-2012 to illuminate the character of innovation activities* in two key services sub-sectors: wholesale and retail trade (WRT), and finance, real estate and business services (FI). These sub-sectors are now central to the South African economy in terms of their contribution to GDP growth, and their advancement is therefore a key consideration for economists, lobbyists, business leaders, and policy makers alike.

The Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators (CeSTII) is a statistical and policy research institute based at South Africa’s Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC).

CeSTII performs national surveys that underpin benchmarking, planning and reporting on R&D, innovation and technology transfer in South Africa, including the South African Business Innovation Survey 2014-2016.

Our Research Briefs are concise papers based our ongoing work. Their goal? To provide empirical evidence and informed opinion that policy- and decision-makers can use to strengthen the quality of their thinking and action.

Research Brief No. 3*

‘INNOVATION IN SERVICES: THE POTENTIAL TO CONTRIBUTE TO STRUCTURAL ECONOMIC TRANSFORMATION?’

Authors: Glenda Kruss, Moses Sithole, Cheryl Moses, Hlamulo Makelane and Precious Mudavanhu

*Data presented in this paper is drawn from the South African Business Innovation Survey 2010-2012. Research Brief No. 3 was first published in May 2018.

How South Africa’s services sector can help tackle poverty and inequality

Full Report: Innovation in the South African Manufacturing Sector, 2010-2012

Full Report: Innovation in Selected South African Services Sectors, 2010-2012

Some government mechanisms in support of innovation in South Africa

There is growing consensus that the services sector can contribute to economic transformation in emerging economies, contrary to the long-held orthodoxy that diversification and structural change only result from industrialisation. This is potentially good news for South Africa, given the growth of the services sector to 65% of GDP by 2014—growth that has occurred at the expense of the manufacturing and mining sectors. The risk is that growth in services may reflect new ways of increasing asset values through new types of speculative financial products that have a high GDP effect, but little effect on positive structural economic change. Bhorat et al (2016) therefore ask the core developmental question: Can South African exploit this shift to build globally competitive, employment-creating firms that can drive structural economic transformation? – Kruss, et al (2018)

Event | Coming up: Industry Associations Innovation Day 2018 – 25 May

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A collaboration of the Department of Science and Technology, and the Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators of the Human Sciences Research Council and Business Unity South Africa, the Industry Associations Innovation Day 2018 will take place at The Canvas Riversands, Fourways, on 25 May 2018.

The Industry Associations Innovation Day 2018 is envisaged to facilitate a dialogue between industry association leaders across the range of sectors, thought leaders, researchers, and government, as well as encounter case studies, on how some industry associations are tackling the innovation question with and for their membership.

Register now

The Canvas Riversands

Download one-page invitation you can share around*

On the agenda*

*Note: The agenda has been updated to include speakers from the National Business Initiative, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and Information Technology Association of South Africa

REGISTRATION (08h30-09h00)

WELCOME: Joanne Yawitch, CEO: National Business Initiative

KEYNOTE: Innovation, government and Industry 4.0: South Africa’s policy visionImraan Patel, Deputy-Director General, Department of Science and Technology

THOUGHT LEADERSHIP PANEL: The trends we can’t afford to ignore anymore, and what businesses can do about them… Themba Maseko, Business Leadership South Africa (Moderator), Etienne Vlok, Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers UnionNonkululeko Shinga, Department of Trade and IndustryMike Colley, Institute for Futures Research

EVIDENCE PRESENTATION: How much R&D and innovation goes on in South Africa, and how we know this, Dr Glenda Kruss, Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators, Human Sciences Research Council

BREAK (10h45-11h00)

PRACTICE LEADERSHIP PANEL: What industry associations can do to support an innovation agendaHenra Mayer, Innocentrix (Moderator), Dr John Purchase, Agricultural Business ChamberBrenda Martin, South African Wind Energy AssociationPhilippa Rodseth, Manufacturing Circle, Sunil Geness, Information Technology Association of South Africa

INFORMATION PRESENTATION:

LUNCH AND NETWORKING (13h00-14h00)

Learn more?

Write to Gerard Ralphs gralphs[at]hsrc.ac.za, or call 021 466 8000.

Announcement | All the SA innovation survey info you need, right here

This blog has been designed as a resource for interested parties to learn more about the South African business innovation surveys and their data. It’s also a practical resource to support and encourage firms responding to surveys.

Content pillars

We’re blogging in four key areas, which you’ll see across our posts. These are:

  1. The meaning of innovation

2. Innovation indicators

3. Impact of innovation

4. Innovation at large

Our blog writers are based at the Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators (CeSTII) at the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa (HSRC).

Goals you can achieve on this blog

Got questions?

Write to innovation@hsrc.ac.za

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