What we do

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What we do

The Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators (CeSTII) delivers statistical research and analysis on behalf of the Department of Science and Innovation.

Major national surveys we perform regularly include the:

  • South African National Survey of Research and Experimental Development
  • South African Business Innovation Survey

CeSTII also works on a wide range of special projects with national and international partners, such as the first-ever South African Survey of Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer at Publicly Funded Research Institutions: Inaugural Baseline Study 2008-2014, and the African Innovation Outlook.

The big picture

The establishment and growth of the CeSTII since 2001 reflects the global movement of economies towards a more knowledge-intensive orientation.

Indeed, the ability of organisations and economies to innovate, and the means that promote this capability, are central to their competitiveness and sustainability.

Research and experimental development (R&D) and innovation activities therefore need to be measured and monitored, so that the dynamics and patterns in terms of human resources, expenditure and focus areas in relation to economic growth can be tracked.

The work of the CeSTII in the areas of national R&D and innovation surveys is recognised at the highest levels of government in South Africa. This recognition is given substance in the memorandum of understanding between the Department and Statistics South Africa for the provision of official science and technology statistics within the National Statistical System.

Research themes

Theme 1: Measuring R&D capacity in South Africa
The South African R&D Survey serves as one of the tools to enhance the STI indicator system for evidence-based policy making, through the provision of comprehensive R&D performance statistics. CeSTII maintains an extensive database of historic unit-level survey responses and, to date, has a repository of 16 completed R&D surveys. A major gap and opportunity for CeSTII, within this key research theme, is to undertake more advanced statistical analysis and modelling of the data, and to design complementary in-depth research to engage with specific South African economic development and policy issues. Some recent examples include:

A critical review of social sciences and humanities R&D expenditure in South Africa, 2005–2014 ›

Patterns of investing into business R&D in South Africa ›

Theme 2: Measuring innovation capacity in South African firms
Improving the quality and extending the focus of business innovation measurement in South Africa is a key research area for CeSTII. In addition, CeSTII adds value to the work on measuring innovation in South African firms by further analysing the datasets it has collected, with the intention of addressing critical policy issues, and contributing to the academic literature from a South African perspective.

Theme 3: New indicator development

CeSTII is in the process of consolidating a set of existing and new projects under the theme of new indicator development. In particular, CeSTII proposes to grow a new research agenda over the next five years building from the concept of innovation for inclusive development (IID). 

Learn more about our current projects

Quality assurance

South Africa’s R&D surveys are considered Official Statistics as defined by the Statistics Act No. 6 of 1999. CeSTII has been identified as a key source of quality statistical research, with its adherence to the South African Statistical Quality Assessment Framework (SASQAF) (Stats SA, 2010). Data are also submitted annually to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics and to the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook.