Pandor investing more in research institutions

Pandor said the various science councils in South Africa would play a role in the socioeconomic development of South Africa in future.

Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor said South Africa would not scale down on its existing network of public research institutions, which currently account for 19 percent of the Research and Development performance.

Speaking at the launch of the Bio-Manufacturing Industry Development Centre this week, Pandor explained that this was double the United Kingdom and only slightly lower than Russia, which has the most extensive network of all developed countries.

Pandor said the various science councils in South Africa would play a role in the socioeconomic development of South Africa in future, by assisting the government in developing knowledge products and services that positively alter poverty, inequality and unemployment.

“The launch of the Bio-manufacturing Industry Development Centre (BIDC) is further evidence of this commitment,” said Pandor.

“The National Development Plan calls for a more effective national innovation system with stronger linkages, improved overall coordination and a greater investment in R&D.

“And that’s what the Centre does. It blends R&D, in its R50-million dedicated facility, with industrial and commercial expertise. Over the last two years it’s become a hub for open innovation for small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) in bio-manufacturing. It’s incubated companies. It’s the first centre of this kind in South Africa in supporting SMMEs involved in bio-manufacturing.

“Currently the Centre supports 19 enterprises, of which 16 are owned by black entrepreneurs, including 10 black women-owned enterprises. You’ve just heard Ms Makekele Tladi, the Marketing Director of the Elvema Nutrition, tell her company’s story.

“It’s a success story. Elvema is selling products through Pick and Pay, Spar and Shoprite and also into 10 countries (Botswana, Nigeria, DRC, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Uganda, Malawi, Zambia, Angola) in Southern Africa. It employs 31 new employees,” added Pandor.

“It’s the sort of success that inspires thousands of others.”

The Centre launched this week is funded through the Department of Science and Technology’s R500-million three-year Industrial Innovation Partnership Programme.

One of the key objectives of the Industry Innovation Partnership is to encourage the private sector to invest more into R&D. It enables strategic partnerships with the private sector (established firms as well as emerging players and small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs).

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