Announcement | Ignition on SA Business Innovation Survey, 2014-2016

07 September 2017

Announcement | Ignition on SA Business Innovation Survey, 2014-2016

Author block;

It’s been an intense but rewarding week for ‘Team BIS’ at the HSRC. We announced the rollout of our 2014-2016 survey fieldwork effort, attended the SA Innovation Summit, and talked and listened to loads of clever and committed people. Who knew doing large-scale quantitative research could be this, well, fun.

Dr Moses Sithole, BIS technical lead, interviewed by Activate radio on 6 September 2017 at the Cape Town Stadium. [Image credit: HSRC/CeSTII]

Ramping up

We’ll remember 5 September 2017 as the day we ramped up Business Innovation Survey 2014-2016, even though behind-the-scenes prep has been ongoing for much, much longer.

Director of the Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators , Dr Glenda Kruss, appeared on eNCA and SABC’s Morning Live, before briefing media at a bespoke event arranged at the HSRC.

We were also very lucky to have one of Africa and the world’s leading science journalists in the room, Linda Nordling, editor of *Research Africa, whose feature “Services industries in the crosshairs as SA launches innovation survey” (7 September 2017) delves into the history of innovation surveys in South Africa, and how the 2014-2016 round will differ from previous rounds.

See also article published in Engineering News and Business Report

Adding to the national conversation

When we designed the advocacy strategy for the South African Business Innovation Survey 2014-2016, we saw September 2017 as a month full of important opportunities to add our voice to a national conversation on innovation.

The SA Innovation Summit event, which ends tomorrow, and the SA Innovation Bridge event, which starts next Friday, are now both annual calendar events for South Africa.

They bring together a whole range of actors from the national system of innovation, and beyond, and both events are about making interaction possible within the system, and with other systems, too; to catalyse more innovation, faster.

In attending these events, we wanted to tell our story, but also listen to as many others’ as we can.

To these ends, the Summit which was held at the Cape Town Stadium’s conference venue certainly delivered great value for us.

Dr Moses Sithole spoke about innovation measurement and firm competitiveness on 7 September and we also listened to the innovation stories of companies, like Skeg, who develop product prototypes for all industries, and of entrepreneurs, like the climate-savvy Vicky Shabangu, who is trying to develop a waste management business in Mpumalanga, from scratch.

A few buzz words characterised the discourse on display at the Summit, like ‘disruption’, ‘crytocurrencies’, ‘big data’, ‘systems thinking’, ‘innovation districts’, ‘knowledge regions’, ‘co-creation’, ‘edtech’, ‘fintech’, and so on.

Powerful messages

The Summit was full of powerful messages for innovators big, small or just starting up. The value of networking, exchange, spaces and places, and information were talked up. So was the extremely powerful role of data, digital and disruption in shaping how the economies (and societies) of the future will operate.

For the South African Business Innovation Survey 2014-2016, the take-home messages were equally strong: we need a strong evidence base, rooted in the realities of firms across different industrial, services and informal sectors of the economy, to help with the shaping of responsive policy.

Visual artist James Durno worked with Kgomotso Matlapeng (Department of Science and Technology) and Gerard Ralphs (Team BIS) on 7 September to co-create this image of the relationship between BIS data and policy. [Image credit: HSRC/CeSTII]