STI policy drives development
Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), along with Stellenbosch University, is co-host to the Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Scientometrics and Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (SciSTIP). This function is being headed by the institution’s chief director of the Institute for Economic Research on Innovation, Dr Rasigan Maharajh, assisted by Dr Erika Kraemer-Mbula. They make a strong case for promoting science, technology and innovation that is relevant to the country’s development agenda and objectives.
“Science, technology and innovation are fundamental drivers of socio-economic and political development,” they explain. Scoped globally and on an evolutionary time-scale, translating knowledge into practice has enabled our collective success as a species and improved our wellbeing.
“However, progress resulting from technical and social change has not been uniformly distributed, and hence, inequalities abound in a world that is both closely interdependent and unevenly developed.”
Contemporary times are characterised by emergence, complexity, interdependencies and precariousness, which increases the need for knowledge production capabilities. This also determines the need for persistently fresh approaches to enhancing our understanding of the relationship between science, technology, innovation and development (STID). Simultaneously, we must also keep pace with the research frontier in policy studies and also contribute to international efforts in measuring performance and developing indicators in STID.
South Africa has established traditions in measuring STID and has striven to improve its competences as the research fields continues to evolve.
As a developing country on a continent where infrastructures and institutions are in the process of being reconstructed and developed, SciSTIP will combine its measurement programmes with efforts that ensure South Africa keeps abreast with the changing global dynamics in science, technology, innovation and development.
“We have to ensure that — in responding to the socio-economic and political realities of South Africa — SciSTIP will serve as a knowledge nexus for improved assessments, monitoring and policy analysis and thereby contribute to generating a better life for all.”
Fast pace of diffusion of innovation
Scientific progress is extending knowledge frontiers and even transgressing traditional disciplinary boundaries. Technological fields are convergent and generate discontinuous change. The scale and pace of the diffusion of innovation is spectacular. As the domains of science, technology and innovation transform, the demand for “smarter” indicators that capture these new dynamics has increased. Enhanced analytic capabilities that translate evidence into policy-relevant advice forms strategic competencies in all national systems of innovation.