Annual Forum 2019 - Innovation and industrialisation

Trade & Industrial Policy Strategies (TIPS) In partnership with the DST/NRF South African Research Chair in Industrial Development (SARChI Industrial Development) based at the University of Johannesburg, the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), Department of Science and Technology (DST), and the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) will be hosting its 2019 Annual Forum on 30-31 May 2019. The theme is Innovation and Industrialisation.

Aim of the conference

The aim is to deepen the understanding of a cross section of issues involved in how innovation is a key feature of industrialisation and the related opportunities and challenges.

The context for the conference

Innovation is an essential element for economic growth and technological upgrading is a key aspect of industrialisation. Despite increased public funds injected into science, technology and innovation (STI) as well as a series of policies designed to encourage innovation, South Africa’s innovation activities appear to be constrained. What then is South Africa’s ability to adapt and respond to technological change and especially discontinuous technological change?

The Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) recognises the importance of innovation for industrialisation. Each year, the state contributes significant resources as well as a having a range of support measures and institutions. The CSIR, TIA, DST, the dti, public research organisations, universities and other institutions provide funding and / or contribute in other ways to facilitate innovation.

In South Africa and the region there is an urgent need to promote industrialisation as a means to achieve socio-economic development and move towards greater levels of equality and a pro-employment development path. How does innovation support a path towards more inclusive forms of industrialisation? Developing strategic and coherent approaches that maximise the impact of state resources and leverage private sector resources requires significant further research and analysis.

Furthermore, sustainability challenges in South Africa and in the Southern African region requires significant innovation support to address the transition, adaptation and mitigation of climate change. There are also opportunities in innovation linked to green industries that could potentially support this transition. Nevertheless, despite the imperatives of transforming to a low-carbon economy to address climate change, the transition pathway should be just so as not to exacerbate South Africa’s triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment.

The challenges of the Forth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0 revolve around technology, innovation and technological change. How do we understand these concepts and their applicability to South Africa and Africa more broadly?

Understanding the challenges within the support framework and funding for innovation and its alignment with industrialisation efforts as well as the impact of innovation on jobs is needed. Additionally, the social implications of disruptive technologies are becoming more appreciated.  

The 2019 Forum will explore these issues and bring together academics, policy makers, as well as organisations and practitioners involved in the various aspects of innovation for industrialisation. The aim is to deepen the understanding of a cross section of issues involved in how innovation is a key feature of industrialisation and the related opportunities and challenges.

For more information about the Forum go to