Programme Director, Ms Leanne Manas;

CEOof the CSIR, Dr Sibusiso Sibisi;

CSIR GroupExecutives;

Members of the CSIR Board; 

Members of the media;

Ladies and gentlemen;

It is a pleasure to be here this morning, in the company of some of our country's bestminds.

Today we are celebrating excellence. We are honouring individuals who asked questions and committed themselves to finding the answers.  We are honouring those who worked late into the night and early in the morning.  We are about to present awards to the winners who wouldn't take "no" for an answer. These awards acknowledge extraordinary efforts made by staff members towards the fulfilling the goals, values, vision and mission of the organization. We are awarding dedication, commitment, selflessness and professionalism.

The awards this year are dedicated at celebrating the people behind the ideas that work. I think as human beings, we thrive on acknowledgement.  Recognitionof our efforts drives us to do even better, increasing the morale and energy levels of ourselves and our colleagues.

These awards are designed also to inspire and encourage all other officials to always do their best in discharging their responsibilities. You have to go beyond your call of duty, and demonstrate integrity. We need outstanding achievement and performance consistently.

It goes without saying that the outputs of the ideas we celebrate today shouldbe aligned with the ultimate goal behind using science, technology and innovation, which is to address real socio-economic challenges, to make a real difference in people's lives, and to contribute to thebuilding of increased research, development and innovation capacity for our country.

It is important to ensure that our science and technology make an impact on growth and development in a sustainable manner and in areas that matter to all South Africans, including the poor and marginalised.

The CSIR is a public entity, and its excellence in science and research should go together with a continual interrogation ofthe effect of its contribution to satisfying people's needs.  This year we celebrate 20 years of democracy.  Many gains have been made.  Since 1994 water, electricity, sanitation and housinghave been provided to millions, and we can be proud about this.  But there are still communities that have no access to such servicesand I believe that science is able to assist government to find workable solutions.  My challenge to you, the CSIR, is therefore to use your know-how in such matters to guide policy-makers and the private sector to make a difference in our country.

I was pleased to learn that the CSIR was listed in the 2013/14 Universum Companies of the Future survey as the preferred employer in the field of science. This is good news, because the strength of any organisation depends on its human capital.  Being recognised as the best allows the CSIR to attract and retain the best.  Congratulations to the CSIR management for creating an environment in which our scientists can flourish.

Over the years, the CSIR has played a significant role in applying science and technology in solving complex industrial problems, contributing to improved quality of life, as well as finding appropriate technological solutions to enhance government service delivery.  The CSIR can be credited with the development of many groundbreaking innovations in our country, which is why the DST is proud to have the CSIR as a partner in responding to the day-to-day challenges of our society.

According to the CSIR's 2013/14 annual report, the total size of its science, engineering and technology human capital base was 1 691, or 65,3% of its total staff.  Of these, 51,7% were black and 32,8% were female.  This is commendable and demonstrates CSIR's commitment to the broader transformation agenda of the country.

The CSIR's excellent efforts to perform relevant research and developmentare reaffirmed through continuing knowledge-generation activities, producing a significant number of scientific publications, conference papers and new patents.  The CSIR's drive to concentrate on new technology demonstrators is gratifying, with a target of 48 new demonstrators achieved in the past financial year.  The CSIR's performance in this regard is an important contribution to the performance indicators for the broader national system of innovation in South Africa.

According to the National Development Plan, science and technology make the difference between countries that break the cycle of poverty by growing and developing their economies and those that do not.  South Africa needs to be creative in using the insights gained through science and technology and ensure appreciation of innovation as an important driver of technological growth.  Awards programmes such as the CSIR Excellence Awards give researchers an incentive to carry on doing the work which is crucial to take our country further on its way to becoming a knowledge economy.

In closing I would like to applaud the CSIR and its employees for their contribution to the excellence we are celebrating today. Obviously, my particular congratulations go to the individuals whose contributions have stood out, earning them accolades today. We are proud of you and have even greater expectations in the future. We wish you everything of the best in your future endeavours.

Thank you.