The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande hails the contribution of the Department of Science and Innovation as one of the cornerstones towards South Africa’s economic growth.


The Department has successfully implemented initiatives and surveys which includes the Sector Innovation Fund (SIF); the Agricultural Bio-economy Innovation Partnership Programme (ABIPP), the R&D Tax Incentive, the Business Innovation Survey and the Agricultural Business Innovation Survey to stimulate the South African economy to create jobs.


Minister Nzimande said that the the Sector Innovation Fund (SIF) programme has contributed to high end, industry-relevant, skills development, through supporting at least 438 students and interns.  Under 8% of students are currently employed as a result of the support received from the fund.  


There have also been at least sixty-six (66) knowledge products that have been produced, at least half of which has been transferred to industry partners, including small or emerging players. 


“About 51% of the students supported are female (with about 27% being Black females), and about 55% of the students are Black,” the Minister said. 


Through the Sector Innovation Fund (SIF) programme, the Department of Science and Innovation partnered with organized industry associations to implement Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) programmes that are aimed at meeting the industries’ competitiveness challenges.  


These challenges ranged from the need to develop high-end skills; the need to identify alternative pest and disease control methods and mechanisms to retain and develop new export markets and to deal with global change and other environmental issues.  


The Department of Science and Innovation’s funding contribution into each Sector Innovation Fund (SIF) is about R182million, from 2014 to 2021. The industry contribution is about R108million.


The Department of Science and Innovation implemented six multi-stakeholder programmes in the agriculture sector, through the Agriculture Bioeconomy Innovation Partnership Programme (ABIPP) in partnership with the private sector. 


A total of R73, 375 728.00 has been leveraged from the private sector partners and includes funding from the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) Grains and oilseeds industries (Grain SA, Winter cereal trust, South African Cultivar and Technology Agency, Maize Trust, Sasol Trust, Oil and Protein Seed Development Trust (OPDT) and the Red Meat Industry Research Association (RMIRA).  


Minister Nzimande said more than 100 projects across different Sector Innovation Fund (SIF) programmes, maintained and improved their competitiveness through the implementation of this project.


“These projects include an online phytosanitary certification tool that enabled the citrus and other horticultural sectors to access and retain export markets; alternative pest and disease control mechanisms that allowed the citrus industry to overcome the EU’s Citrus Black Spot barriers to entry; new packaging and transportation protocols and methodologies that contributed to significant cost savings; and the plantation management systems that assisted emerging forestry growers and processers to improve their operational efficiencies,” said the Minister. 


The Minister said under the Agricultural Bio-economy Innovation Partnership Programme (ABIPP), the Department of Science and Innovation is implementing the Strategic Innovation Partnership for Grain and Oilseeds, the Soybean Food and Nutrition Development Programme and the Red Meat Sustainability Programme.


An average of 291 taxpayers received the benefit of the R&D tax incentive for the first three fiscal years of the implementation of innovation projects. Of these, 101 taxpayers are from the manufacturing sector; 68 from the financial intermediation, insurance, real estate and business services sector; and 50 from the agricultural sector.


Minister Nzimande said in terms of the Business Innovation Survey (2014-2016) innovation was pervasive across all sectors, especially in engineering and tech, manufacturing and trade.


The Minister said more than two thirds (69.9%) of South African businesses were innovation-active and that they took some scientific, technological, organisational, financial and commercial steps towards the implementation of innovation related projects.


“Innovative South African businesses engaged in the four types of innovation measured in almost equal shares: product innovation (48.2%), organisational innovation (42.0%), marketing innovation (41.7%), and process innovation (34.6%). The engineering and tech, manufacturing, and trade sectors reported the greatest concentrations of innovation in 2014-2016, the Minister pointed-out.


The Minister indicated that through these government led programmes and projects more innovation-active South African businesses accessed national and global markets than their counterparts with no innovation activity.


“58.1% of businesses with innovation activity were more likely to have sold their goods and services on national markets, when compared to 37.7% of non-innovation-active businesses. In addition, more innovation-active businesses accessed global markets, including markets in the rest of Africa, Europe, Asia, and other countries, than non-innovation-active businesses,” the Minister said.


On the other hand, Minister Nzimande said the Agricultural Business Innovation survey which measures the scale, nature and outcomes of innovation in the South African agribusinesses helped businesses by providing researched based evidence required to inform decision-making and policy.  




Issued by:

Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Innovation

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