The Directorate: Sector and Local Innovation falls under the Chief Directorate: Sector Innovation and Green Economy of Programme 5: Socio-ecoonmic Innovation Partnerships.


The purpose of the Directorate: Sector and Local Innovation is to strengthen the National System of Innovation so as to enhance economic growth, primarily by ‑


  • forming partnerships with particular industrial sectors that are designed to increase their participation in the research, development and innovation (RDI) value chain;
  • coordinating and facilitating local innovation interventions.


This is achieved through –


  • facilitating and supporting multi-helix innovation partnerships and platforms at local or regional level;
  • supporting processes to design and develop approaches to sector innovation planning;
  • enhancing the competiveness of strategic sectors through high-impact science, technology and innovationinterventions, such as innovation programmes.




Building local innovation systems


The Directorate: Sector and Local Innovation supports and facilitates the development of regional innovation forums, which are intended to –


  • provide networking opportunities for small and medium enterprises to participate meaningfully in the emerging knowledge and information-driven global economy by fostering collaboration with knowledge generators and experts;
  • promote innovation within a defined region within a province, using existing provincial and local government structures, institutions and other support structures as implementation agents;
  • act as communities of practice for national RDI projects with a local footprint;
  • inform provincial and national innovation policies from the bottom-up;
  • initiate the management and leveraging of funding for evidence-based studies to identify gaps in the system.


It is envisaged that future activities will include developing mechanisms to include marginalised or informal sectors of communities in the regional innovation forums, where appropriate.


Development of national science parks


Science and technology parks are important innovation support mechanisms through which to grow and support the National System of Innovation. If developed appropriately, taking local conditions into account, they could be useful implementation platforms for hosting and supporting innovation programmes. Such programmes foster collaborative innovation as a core philosophy and ultimately have a positive socio-economic effect.


The activities of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) in this area include creating awareness and providing grant support and funding for accelerating science park development (primarily for professional fees and disbursements for feasibility studies, business plans, etc., and capacity building at a local level).


Industry Innovation Partnership initiative


The DST established an Industry Innovation Partnership (IIP) initiative in 2013 and to date has allocated R500 million for the implementation of the programme. The main objective of the IIP initiative is to create an environment in which government can effectively partner with industry to co-fund RDI in key strategic sectors of the economy. The DST is encouraging the IIP as part of a broader government effort to support industry competitiveness. A vital performance measure for the IIP initiative will be the amount of funding an industry sector contributes to the identified RDI programmes or priorities, to match government (DST) funding.


Initiatives supported through the IIP include activities in nano-additive processing, commercialising photonics-based products and bio-manufacturing. A significant portion of the IIP funding is also directed towards the development and expansion of the satellite and titanium industries, as well as growing the information and communication technology (ICT) industry partnerships within the context of the Cabinet-approved ICT RDI Implementation Roadmap, focusing initially on strengthening and growing the existing partnerships with multinational ICT companies, and creating new ones with local ICT industries.


Sector-specific innovation funds


In addition, the DST approved the establishment of the Sector-specific Innovation Fund Programme in May 2013 as part of the broader IIP initiative. The programme's main objective is to provide a mechanism through which government and industry can co-invest in industry-wide RDI priorities identified by industry and that support economic outcomes such as modernisation, competitiveness and job creation. It also aims to build stronger links between industry and the public science system. The Sector-specific Innovation Fund Programme focuses on improving the competitiveness of existing sectors of the South African economy. It is designed to allow the particular industry to determine its RDI needs. Industry will also be closely involved in monitoring the research and ensuring it meets identified requirements.




Regional innovation forums and partnerships



Government agencies



Industry sector bodies/Not-for-profit companies





Ms Sunita Kalan


Director: Sector and Local Innovation


+27 (0)12 843 6443


This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




Launch of East London Science and Technology Park (21 August 2014)


Launch of the Free State Regional Innovation Forum (9 May 2013)


Launch of the Stellenbosch Innovation District (26 October 2012)


Launch of the Southern Gauteng Science and Technology Park (4 June 2012)


Launch of Eastern Cape's Regional Innovation Forum (3 March 2011)




Enhancing innovation in South Africa: the Co-operative Financial Institute of South Africa (COFISA) experience


Report on the limited scope feasibility study for the establishment of an East London Industrial Development ZoneSciencePark