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Prospects for Transformative Innovation Policy Conference, Pretoria

The National Research Foundation (NRF) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) are hosting the first global conference on Transformative Innovation Policy in Pretoria during 20-21 September 2017. The conference, hosted on behalf of the Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium (TIPC) has attracted 120 participants from 20 countries (including 6 countries from the continent). The event was officiated by the Minister of Science and Technology, the Honourable Naledi Pandor, the Ambassador of Sweden to South Africa, Ms Cecilia Julin and other diplomatic representatives from the UK, China, Norway, Germany, Brazil and Kenya.

In her keynote address, Minister Pandor highlighted the need for initiatives such as the TIPC to make practical contributions to addressing societal challenges. She cautioned that marginalised and vulnerable communities are increasingly becoming weary of “transformation” concepts as these have not led to visible changes. “We need to accelerate efforts to develop metrics and indicators that will allow us to design, implement, and developmentally evaluate innovation frameworks” she noted. In her closing remarks, the Minister emphasised that “there is nothing worse than hope held out and hope not realized for our society” in reference to societal expectations from policy makers and researchers. 

During the event, Dr Aldo Stroebel, the Executive Director for Strategic Partnership at the NRF emhasised the need for macro policy perspectives on innovation that leads to disruption of the status quo and novel approaches to addressing societal challenges. Dr Stroebel noted the alignment and contribution of the TIPC initiative on South Africa’s broader mandate for the internationalisation of the research enterprise seen through, for example, the design and implementation of the South African Research Chairs Initiative, the Southern Africa Systems Analysis Centre, and Centers of Excellence. 

The TIPC initiative aims to analyse the current world in transition as well as develop a new shared rationale and vision for innovation policy. The initiative seeks to engage in policy design and experimentation, training and skill formation, and will contribute to generating evidence that directly feeds into South Africa’s governance systems through evidence generated and lessons shared among participating countries. Consortium members include: Research Council of Norway, the South African National Research Foundation, the Colombian Administrative Department of Science, Technology & Innovation (Colciencias), the Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems (VINNOVA), the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation (Tekes) and the Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex. (http://www.transformative-innovation-policy.net/).

Press Release