EPD to explore the innovation landscape of the great Karoo region

The Department of Science and Technology (DST), in partnership with the Technology Innovation Agency, has tasked the Economic Performance and Development unit to appraise and map out the innovation landscape (i.e., innovation infrastructure, actors, their networks and relevant institutions) of the Karoo region.

Phase 1 of this two-phased innovation mapping exercise, is set to start in January 2019 and run for a year, covering 16 local municipalities across 4 districts in the Karoo, at a cost of R2 million. The Karoo region is vast and covers about 78 local municipalities in 16 districts across four provinces: the Northern Cape, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Free State. Phase 2 of the project, which will focus on the remainder of the municipalities, is expected to start towards the end of Phase 1 in late 2019.

The DST seeks to develop an inclusive and locally grounded regional innovation strategy for the Karoo, in support of the Small-Town Regeneration and Regional Economic Development (STR & RED) initiative. The STR & RED initiative is a flagship programme of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) that was launched in 2013. It aims at improving economic growth and diversification in small towns through identification of regional economic opportunities and competitiveness.

To design an effective, efficient and evidence-based strategy to promote and guide the successful utilisation of innovation to achieve the region’s vision, the DST needs to understand the extent of available infrastructure that supports innovation, the key innovation actors, the nature and patterns of interaction among innovation actors, how actor networks influence innovation performance and the relationship between actor networks and different types of innovation, as well as the institutional rules governing science, technology & innovation (STI) in the region.

In particular, it is crucial to understand how the local people and organisations can be included and also benefit from complex innovation projects located in the region, such as the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project, as these become the cornerstone of a thriving and robust local knowledge economy and regional economic competitiveness.

The EPD team will update, customise and apply its set of Tools for Local Innovation Advancement (T4LIA) to achieve the objectives of this exercise. The T4LIA toolkit, which was developed by EPD’s Rural Socio-Economic Transition (RSET) team, and funded by the DST, has already been successfully applied in selected municipalities and has been shown to be a fit-for-purpose information and decision-making toolset.

For more information about this project, please contact Sikhulumile Sinyolo on 012 302 2718/ Email ssinyolo@hsrc.ac.za

 

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Dr M Botha Says:2 December 2018
Please place my name on your EDP Great Karoo Project.