SciTech department to invest R23bn in innovation

2017-02-24 15:57 - Kyle Venktess

Pretoria - The Department of Science and Technology is set to spend most of its allocation of R23.7bn over the medium term to investment in producing new knowledge, developing human capital, and building infrastructure for research and innovation, according to the 2017 National Budget.

The bulk of the funds (R3.9bn) will be transferred to the Council for Industrial and Scientific Research (CSIR) and the National Research Foundation (NRF), which foster, promote and support industrial and scientific research and technology innovation.

Gordhan said in his speech that the The 2017 budget allocates funds over the MTEF period to support economic growth in various programmes:

The CSIR places major focus on their Grassroots Innovation Programme by the department’s Technology Localisation Implementation Unit (TLIU) which seeks to unearth rural innovators who will then be incubated in to programmes to develop their innovation into a business.

According to the TLIU’s Manager Ashley Bhugwandin, Government has declared a clear commitment to the development of innovation in the country through its capital investment.

"Various initiatives that include Grassroots Innovation will serve to unearth the country’s bountiful raw talent that has for too long been neglected,” he told Fin24.

"At TLIU it remains a key objective to localise our technology and human capital, we believe that this is the only way to make sustainable improvements in our land," he added.   

"We commend the government for identifying this need and making a concerted effort to address it," he said.

The Technology Innovation programme is allocated R3.4bn over the medium term, or 14.2% of the department’s total budget, to invest in the production of new knowledge.

“Of this amount, R1.3bn will be transferred to the Technology Innovation Agency, which funds strategic technological innovation, emerging technologies and knowledge innovation products, including nanotechnology research, with the aim of commercialising them,” the National Budget read.

The agency has allocated R719m of this transfer to technology innovation funding for small and medium enterprises to help them commercialise new technological products and services.

“The department also plans to transfer R150.4 million over the medium term to the National Intellectual Property Management Office to ensure that publicly funded intellectual property is protected and used to create products, processes and services that improve the quality of life in South Africa,” the National Budget went further to read.

The department also seeks to use bio-innovation to contribute to the achievement of government’s industrial, health and social development goals, as well as to the development of indigenous knowledge applications.

Spending on bio-innovation in the Bioeconomy subprogramme is projected to amount to R527m over the medium term.

This will allow the department to strengthen the research and innovation competencies that form the strategic foundation for the bio-based scientific innovation, and develop and support strategic research and innovation programmes. 

A further R27 million in 2017/18, R60 million in 2018/19 and R63 million in 2019/20 is allocated to mining research and development for technological solutions that improve safety, profitability and competitiveness.

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