BY DR SHAWN CUNNINGHAM
24 NOVEMBER 2021
We are constantly being confronted with predictions of how new technologies may affect our workplaces, our personal lives, and how we interact with others. Even if we ignore all the hype, we can sense how digital technologies are being embedded into more and more of the everyday devices that we use to control the environments around us.
Within this sea of contrasting and ever-changing information, managers must make decisions while balancing short-term operational requirements with potential longer-term strategies. Do they continue with the incremental changes within technology domains that are more familiar? Or do they take the plunge by switching to alternative technologies and all the uncertainty that comes with trying something different? Or is it possible to try several alternatives while still building on what is already in place?Read More
ABOUT THE TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGE PROJECT
The Technological Change and Innovation System Observatory project aims to track and create awareness of disruptive innovation and discontinuous technological change by organisations in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.
Additive layer manufacturing describes a manufacturing process in which a digitally controlled head with a laser deposits a fine layer of raw material to construct a three-dimensional object. Additive manufacturing is sometimes also called 3D printing.
3D desktop printers are already available to consumers at computer retailers and hobby shops. The performance and functionality of desktop 3D printers are increasing rapidly, while the cost of ownership is falling rapidly. Desktop 3D printers usually deposit a layer of molten plastic on a bed to create a three-dimensional shape.
In the industrial domain, rapid advances are being made in the melting of metals, alloys, high performance plastics and polycarbonates using lasers. Likewise, in the medical field, different technologies are being developed that allow for the combination of cells, growth factors, biomaterials and tissue to grow organs. Additive manufacturing technologies are also used to print complex sand moulds, or to create wax moulds for investment castings. The metal objects made by 3D printed moulds are basically ready-for-use and require almost no further grinding or processing.
This series of four research papers and policy brief focuses on preparing South African industry for the fourth industrial revolution.
Technological change and the DTIC: innovation in the industry
The rapid pace of technological change is taking place in the context of South Africa slipping in its readiness for these changes. At the same time policies to support structural economic change in the economy, such as moving from a dependence on mining and commodities, are being implemented. Technological change and innovation are important elements of this structural change. This Policy Brief aims to give context to these technological changes and the industrial policy interface.
REPORT BY THE WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM
The latest iteration of the WEF Emerging Technologies of 2021 report covers technologies like breath sensors that can diagnose disease and the wireless charging of low-powered devices. This is the 10th-anniversary edition of the report that is available from the WEF website. The WEF and the Scientific American Journal select these technologies against several criteria. For instance, the technologies are selected because they promise major benefits to societies and economies, they must be disruptive, attractive to researchers and investors, and they must be expected to achieve considerable scale within five years.
PUBLISHED BY THE NATIONAL ADVISORY COUNCIL ON INNOVATION
This annual report provides the latest available data on science, technology and innovation in the South African economy. The conceptual framework for the report utilises the revised South African Innovation Scorecard framework that is adapted from the European Scoreboard. This makes it easier to compare how South Africa is performing in relation to the European Innovation System. The report shows that South Africa is slipping in performance in many key areas, despite considerable investments in human capital and science and technology infrastructure.