News & events


An innovation systems approach to socio-economic development for sustainability in South Africa

02 June 2016
12:30 - 13:30


Pieter van Heyningen (PhD completed)
Founder SustNet; Associate SGGF, School of Public Leadership; Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, Stellenbosch University

Date:     2 June 2016

   12:30  – 13:30

    Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town

In the wake of the recent Millienium Development Goals (MDG’s), the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) take over. In the context of achieving these latter goals, an exposé of innovation systems approaches to growth and sustainable development are expressed. Sustainability-oriented innovation systems are a ground-breaking and novel approach to dealing with the challenges of our time, in South Africa, and globally. This requires urgently the transformation of our knowledge systems towards a sustainable direction, and concurrently developing specialized approaches to learning between government, business and academia. 

Utilizing two case studies, one of a leading regional innovation system in sustainability (Styria, Austria), and the other a lagging region in comparison (Western Cape) various important findings are discussed. These findings highlight the gaps in understanding the importance of an innovation systems approach to both economic and sustainable development in a regional context.  The importance of the socio-economics of innovation within geography are emphasized, especially in a country like South Africa that through its past socio-spatial engineering resulted in contrasting and often competing world views.  Van Heyningen discusses these issues, and provides fascinating insights about how these challenges are in fact opportunities for developing a unique South African socio-economic identity, building new home industry markets in parallel to regional African integration, and globalization. A perspective that is progressive and forward looking, embracing diversity, ecological modernization, sustainable development and especially an Africanized innovation agenda.

The HSRC seminar series is funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST). The views and opinions expressed therein  as well as findings and statements of the seminar series do not necessarily represent the views of DST.

Kindly RSVP by 1 June 2016

Cape Town : HSRC, 12th Floor, Plein Park Building (Opposite Revenue Office), Plein Street, Cape Town. Contact Carmen August ,Tel (021) 4668004, Fax (021) 461 0299 or e-mail:

Durban :  The Atrium, 5th Floor, 430 Peter Mokaba Ridge, Berea, 4001 , Contact Ridhwaan Khan, Tel (031) 242 5400, cell: 083 788 2786 or , or Hlengiwe Zulu at e-mail

Pretoria : HSRC Video Conference, 1st floor HSRC Library Human Sciences Research Council, 134 Pretorius Street, Pretoria. Arlene Grossberg, Tel: (012) 302 2811, e-mail: