SA positions itself to attract research investors


Johannesburg, 6 October 2015 - South Africas research and development spending, leaves a lot to be desired. That's if the country wishes to compete internationally, and create new jobs.

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PRETORIA - South Africa’s research and development spending, leaves a lot to be desired if the country wishes to compete internationally, and create new jobs.

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is pushing back against the slowdown and using their technical skills to help businesses become more innovative.

Over the last few years the CSIR has pumped tens of millions of rands into using nanotechnology to make South African industries like cosmetics and plastics more competitive.

But government knows in business it’s not innovation, but the bottom line that rules.

Dr Manfred Scriba from the National Centre for Nano-structured Materials says, "If industry is in a weak state then they will not look at new tech unless it brings a big cost savings and advantage and that is where nanotechnology can play a role and we are hoping it will play a role.”

Government believes the way to improve the overall outlook for the country, would be to raise the levels of research and development.

But government alone can’t improve research outputs, business buy-in is needed.

Minister of Science and TechnologyNaledi Pandoor says, "Where I would like to really see improvement is in private sector partnership with the public sector we are making some strides towards that but I really want to see far stronger partnerships."

"Of course South Africa must increase its research funding in order to attract much more private sector funding, we stand at about 60 percent by the state 40 percent by the private sector.”

Many small businesses would never venture into manufacturing due to lack of infrastructure and skills. But the CSIR&39;s Bio manufacturing Industry Development Centre has ploughed R40-million into helping these small businesses.

The companies can now bring their prototypes and the CSIR uses cutting edge technology to enhance the products and mass produce them for the market.

South Africa offers tax incentives to companies that spend on research and has positioned itself to attract global players.

But three years after the system was put in place, some companies are still waiting to be registered for the incentive.

However, both the minister and private sector are confident that teething problems within the system will soon be ironed out.

And hopefully South Africa will soon be able to start translating its vast body of research into innovative technologies, and ultimately jobs on the ground.

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