Media release | Nation-wide survey of South African business innovation gets underway

Thursday, 24 February 2022 – On 14 March 2022 South Africa’s official Business Innovation Survey gets underway with fieldworkers reaching out to 5 500 businesses over the next six months.

This will be the seventh time the survey takes place in South Africa, which is performed by the HSRC’s Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators for the Department of Science and Innovation.

Innovation is internationally recognised as a key driver of economic growth. It takes place in many businesses – big, small, micro and informal. Countries are best placed to solve wide-ranging social and economic challenges when innovative products and processes are adopted, and technological capacity is built.

Covering a three-year period, 2019 – 2021, the business innovation survey method uses international measurement tools to compare South Africa with other countries.

The survey collects information about a business’s innovations. This may include new products, new processes, as well as improvements to existing products or ways of working.

“South Africa faces considerable economic challenges, worsened by COVID-19. Measuring our capacity to innovate and thus grow our economy and increase employment is now especially relevant” says Dr Glenda Kruss, head of the CeSTII.

Business leaders will be contacted by fieldworkers from GeoScope, the HSRC’s fieldwork partner for the survey. The survey can be self-completed online or via telephonic interview.

Covering the period 2019 to 2021 the survey will collect data from the sample of enterprises drawn from the business register held by Statistics South Africa. It will include enterprises in:
• mining
• manufacturing
• electricity, gas and water supply
• services, including wholesale and retail trade
• transport, storage and communication
• financial intermediation
• computer and related activities.
• research and development
• architectural and engineering activities
• technical testing and analysis

“Societies that innovate, and create the conditions to nurture innovative practices, prosper and grow. South Africa has long recognised the importance of innovation and several public programmes support innovation,” says Senior Policy Analyst of the Department of Science Innovation, Kgomotso Matjila-Matlapeng.

“We thank the business sector for supporting this important research by contributing their time and insight when approached to participate. We will be guided by the results of the survey and look forward to sharing the findings.”

HSRC and partners would like to send their gratitude to the business sector for supporting this important research by contributing their time and insight when approached to participate.

The survey results will be analysed in 2022/23 and published in 2023.



For media enquiries
Adziliwi Nematandani, HSRC
Join the conversation: #BusinessInnovationSurvey #SAInnovationData

Event | Save the Date: 24 February 2022

Media briefing and knowledge-sharing webinar for journalists, industry association leaders,
and business analysts

The Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), together with the Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators (CeSTII) at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), invite you to join this knowledge-sharing webinar to explore uses of innovation data for organisational decision-making and analysis, and for public knowledge purposes. Innovation scholars from South Africa will use practical examples to catalyse the conversation. The knowledge exchange will follow on from a media briefing with survey leaders announcing the start of fieldwork for the Business Innovation Survey 2019 – 2021.

RSVP on Zoom required by 22 February 2022

Why this event, now

Outside of public policy uses, South Africa’s innovation data are a unique and publicly available source of intelligence for leaders of industry associations, journalists, and business analysts. (To access the data sets, go to For previous survey reports, go to Depending on the type of analysis performed, new insights into the South African business environment can be generated using innovation data. Challenging common-sense perceptions of innovation, by using national innovation data, is important to developing more robust internal or public conversations.

Learn more

Gerard Ralphs | HSRC | gralphs[at]

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.

Image credit: Department of Science and Technology

Programme and speakers

Did you attend? Rate your experience


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



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

InnovationDay_BannerImage_V1 [2160x1080px]
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



Learn more?

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

Announcement | Ignition on SA Business Innovation Survey, 2014-2016

It’s been an intense but rewarding week for ‘Team BIS’ at the HSRC. We announced the rollout of our 2014-2016 survey fieldwork effort, attended the SA Innovation Summit, and talked and listened to loads of clever and committed people. Who knew doing large-scale quantitative research could be this, well, fun.

Dr Moses Sithole, BIS technical lead, interviewed by Activate radio on 6 September 2017 at the Cape Town Stadium. [Image credit: HSRC/CeSTII]

Ramping up

We’ll remember 5 September 2017 as the day we ramped up Business Innovation Survey 2014-2016, even though behind-the-scenes prep has been ongoing for much, much longer.

Director of the Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators , Dr Glenda Kruss, appeared on eNCA and SABC’s Morning Live, before briefing media at a bespoke event arranged at the HSRC.

We were also very lucky to have one of Africa and the world’s leading science journalists in the room, Linda Nordling, editor of *Research Africa, whose feature “Services industries in the crosshairs as SA launches innovation survey” (7 September 2017) delves into the history of innovation surveys in South Africa, and how the 2014-2016 round will differ from previous rounds.

See also article published in Engineering News and Business Report

Adding to the national conversation

When we designed the advocacy strategy for the South African Business Innovation Survey 2014-2016, we saw September 2017 as a month full of important opportunities to add our voice to a national conversation on innovation.

The SA Innovation Summit event, which ends tomorrow, and the SA Innovation Bridge event, which starts next Friday, are now both annual calendar events for South Africa.

They bring together a whole range of actors from the national system of innovation, and beyond, and both events are about making interaction possible within the system, and with other systems, too; to catalyse more innovation, faster.

In attending these events, we wanted to tell our story, but also listen to as many others’ as we can.

To these ends, the Summit which was held at the Cape Town Stadium’s conference venue certainly delivered great value for us.

Dr Moses Sithole spoke about innovation measurement and firm competitiveness on 7 September and we also listened to the innovation stories of companies, like Skeg, who develop product prototypes for all industries, and of entrepreneurs, like the climate-savvy Vicky Shabangu, who is trying to develop a waste management business in Mpumalanga, from scratch.

A few buzz words characterised the discourse on display at the Summit, like ‘disruption’, ‘crytocurrencies’, ‘big data’, ‘systems thinking’, ‘innovation districts’, ‘knowledge regions’, ‘co-creation’, ‘edtech’, ‘fintech’, and so on.

Powerful messages

The Summit was full of powerful messages for innovators big, small or just starting up. The value of networking, exchange, spaces and places, and information were talked up. So was the extremely powerful role of data, digital and disruption in shaping how the economies (and societies) of the future will operate.

For the South African Business Innovation Survey 2014-2016, the take-home messages were equally strong: we need a strong evidence base, rooted in the realities of firms across different industrial, services and informal sectors of the economy, to help with the shaping of responsive policy.

Visual artist James Durno worked with Kgomotso Matlapeng (Department of Science and Technology) and Gerard Ralphs (Team BIS) on 7 September to co-create this image of the relationship between BIS data and policy. [Image credit: HSRC/CeSTII]

Event | Survey leaders to brief media on 5 September 2017

Members of the media and other interested parties are invited to join the Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators and the Department of Science and Technology for an announcement of the launch of fieldwork for the South African Business Innovation Survey 2014-2016.

The briefing will take place on 5 September 2017 (10h30-12h00), and participants can attend in Cape Town, Durban or Pretoria, in the videoconference facilities of the Human Sciences Research Council.

RSVP is required

Download Business Innovation Survey 2014-2016 brochure

The event will include short statements by the Survey’s technical team concerning the aims and expected outcomes of the research, as well as a statement from the Department of Science and Technology about the significance of the research for national policy.

Participants at the Cape Town venue will also have an opportunity to visit the ‘Innovation Survey Hub’, a dedicated research centre at the HSRC where all fieldwork will take place.

For more information, please contact Gerard Ralphs (gralphs[at] or 0214668000.