The Programme aims to enable research and development (R&D) in strategic and emerging focus areas (space science,energy, biotechnology, nanotechnology, robotics, photonics,and indigenous knowledge systems) intellectual property management,technology transfer and technology commercialisation in order to promote the realisation of commercial products, processes and services from R&D outputs through the implementation of enabling policy instruments.

Strategic objectives

  • To lead, inform and influence policy development in areas of strategic science and technology (S&T) innovation focus.
  • To oversee, monitor and regulate key policy instruments, including institutional arrangements and support interventions in strategic and emerging areas.
  • To coordinate and support research and high-end skills development in strategic and emerging areas.
  • To support, promote and advocate for the development and translation of scientific R&D outputs into commercial products, processes and services that will contribute to economic growth and a better quality of life.


  1. Bio-innovation focuses on supporting and strengthening bio-economy-related research, development and technology innovation in the country.  It drives and coordinates innovation and innovation support activities across the value chain, in areas of health, agriculture and industry, finding applications in, amongst other areas, the creation of new and improved therapeutics, vaccines and diagnostics (including animal drugs and vaccines), higher yielding crops, new crop development, bio-control agents, agro-processing, new and more efficient industry applications, and indigenous knowledge-based applications.
  2. Hydrogen and Energy provides policy leadership in RDI initiatives in the energy sector that are of a cross-cutting nature and have long-term impacts. It plays a key role in developing a sustainable and globally competitive South African energy knowledge base and industry, especially in relation to the emerging global hydrogen economy, by informing and co-shaping the national energy policy in coordination with the Department of Energy and other key stakeholders. Hydrogen Public Awareness Programme
  3. Space Science and Technology focuses on creating an environment conducive to the implementation of the National Space Strategy and the South African Earth Observation Strategy under the overarching guidelines of the National Space Policy, an instrument of the Department of Trade and Industry.
  4. Innovation Priorities and Instruments supports and strengthens the innovation policy package (and related programmatic interventions) with the aim of creating and sustaining an enabling environment for innovation, technology development, and the commercialisation of publicly funded R&D. Within this context, the Emerging Research Areas Directorate focuses specifically on the development of nanotechnology, photonics, synthetic biology and robotics through the roll-out of approved strategies and implementation plans. Nanotechnology Public Engagement Programme
  5. The National Intellectual Property Management Office (NIPMO) is a specialised service delivery unit of the Department. It aims to ensure that recipients of funding from government funding agencies assess, record and report on the benefit to society of intellectual property emanating from publicly financed R&D. Recipients must identify commercialisation opportunities for intellectual property emanating from publicly financed R&D in order to protect it from appropriation and ensure that it is available to the people of South Africa.