Pandor: SA universities lack innovation

2012-04-04 16:00

Cape Town - South African universities are partly to blame for a lack of innovation in different industries, Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor said on Wednesday.

"Our research and development surveys show that too little local business research and development is conducted in our universities," she said at a Higher Education SA research and innovation conference in Pretoria.

"Universities have not embraced business here as they have in other countries. Professors do not see themselves as investors in start-ups and supervisors of application development."

A comparison was made to the United States, where research universities were large contributors of ideas leading to industrial innovation.

Pandor said universities continued to focus on producing talent rather than technology.

"We have to recognise that we have failed to diversify or capitalise on local knowledge generation, and this is despite considerable expertise in sectoral systems of innovation such as mining, pulp and paper, viticulture, chemicals and telemetry."

Pandor said emerging scholars and scientists should be encouraged to develop their ideas as they were not frightened of taking risks or of failure.

"Innovation is about turning new ideas into profitable businesses."

From a business perspective, the government was encouraging innovation through a tax incentive for research and development.

Pandor said the scheme had not drawn in numbers, largely because of "bureaucratic requirements", which were changed this year to make tax claims simpler.

The government would draw up three plans to bring together universities, businesses and social innovation.

  • Kala - 2012-04-04 16:12

    Pandor said the scheme had not drawn in numbers, largely because of "bureaucratic requirements", which were changed this year to make tax claims simpler. I don't get Pandor. She gives a long statement slating Universities but then admits the problem lies with the Bureaucratic requirements. There is most definitely an over supply of Government red tape.

      Benn - 2012-04-04 16:27

      SA also lacks a GOVERNMENT !!!!

      Kala - 2012-04-04 16:39

      Alicia - Apparently the most scary statistic is that most of the Grade 10 pupils don't reach Grade 12. If they include those figures to the ultimate matric pass rate the figures would be shocking.

  • seymore.butt - 2012-04-04 16:17

    Such a load of crap! Ms Pandor - first look at the funding available for SA research (for your info. the total NRF budget in 2012 to fund competitive grants to all rated researcher was about R6M - equivalent to 1 single grant from EU or NSF)...then look at student to staff ratio and their teaching load (each prof is teaching three times the load carried by researchers at US institutes) and then look at laboratory facilities available...once you have done that then compare innovation potential! Its easy to make hand waving statements when you are a minister - take the example of the new research ship being acquired by SA- government has no funding to support research dedicated cruises even though ship was supposed to be 300 days at sea for research!

      Manu - 2012-04-04 17:06

      I agree. Africa doesn't invest in RD anywhere close to what the US and Europe do.

  • peter.retief - 2012-04-04 16:19

    So true!

  • Brett - 2012-04-04 16:21

    Blame blame blame its the ANC's game.

  • Tony Lapson - 2012-04-04 16:24

    What does she know? She cares far too much about business and 'investments' to be a science and technology minister.

  • Al - 2012-04-04 16:31

    I have a friend who has had to go abroad to complete her PhD in Genetics because she is too white, and the university basically told that to her in those words. SA's loss unfortunately. She's doing great work in Europe though, finished her PhD last week

      Al - 2012-04-04 16:33

      And all the funding was going towards affirmative students, who were just being pushed through and actually had no clue what they were doing

  • Cassandra Olivier - 2012-04-04 16:59

    Get rid of BEE and you will see a big difference....

      Manu - 2012-04-04 17:12

      This idea that "whites will come to the rescue" is getting really old. It's a numbers game. Over 80% the population is black. A sensible person would realise fairly quickly that the potential to spur the development of the country lies in activating (socially and economically) this 80% rather than relying on the 10%. It's just common sense. People who are against BEE are shortsighted.

      Tree - 2012-04-04 18:21

      There is nothing wrong with the idea of BEE, but it is being applied incorrectly. When it comes to education, nobody should be denied the right to education, no matter how poor or how priveledged their ancestors may have been. And yes, there is a 'culture' of innovation in Europeans and Americans that needs to be transferred to Africans so the 80% will be dependant on the 10% for quite some time. It would have taken a lot less time if it was 80% transferring knowledge to the 10%!

  • Cassandra Olivier - 2012-04-04 17:01

    Get rid of BEE and you will see what happens

  • Themba - 2012-04-04 17:03

    I partly agree with Naledi Pandor. Most SA Universities are too focussed on academic research that has very little to do with business or challenges of our country.

  • Pieter Erasmus - 2012-04-04 17:04

    oooh he e wena..... its not the ANC, its never the ANC

  • njabulo.maphumulo1 - 2012-04-04 17:09

    i am alarmed by the statement of Pandor,because She failed our universities while she was the minister,how can she have guts to say such a thing,atleast Dr Bonginkosi Blade Nzimande is doing a far much better work than her.when we as the students needed her intervanition in difficult times she was busy improving her fake American ascents,and now she comes and make a populist statement,yes we do lack it somehow but what did she do during her term of office as a minister in order to improve innovation rather than improving her ascent and busy buying face creams?

      david.lebethe - 2012-04-04 17:25

      It's a question of a pot calling another one black. In short, she is an opportunist. She is a member of the very cabinet that control the very institutions, which she is now criticizing. If she wants us to take her serious she should advocate for legislation that will require academics/researchers to issue papers on subjects of interest or beneficial to the country and its people.

      Corne - 2012-04-05 06:48

      Your inability to spell and put a comprehensible sentence together is just another by-product of a failed education system. Viva!!!!

  • errol.wagner - 2012-04-04 17:21

    It was not always like this - perhaps it is an indication of the people appointed in academic positions - I am just asking.

      Koos - 2012-04-05 03:37

      It is more a question of where does the academic get the time. One of my family members teaches 600 students 3 days a week. Set the exams, marking test and exams. battling with studenst and parent because their children are not capable to pass. In the end the dean adjust the marks so the problem is moved on to another year, another lecturer.

  • Andrew - 2012-04-04 18:05

    I wonder (cynically) if the brain drain has anything to do with this lack of innovation?? So why does the top innovative talent leave this country in droves?? Maybe because many of them are not employable here? Maybe other countries offer a more promising future and more innovative and inspiring leaders.

      Tree - 2012-04-04 18:24

      Take a look at Elon Musk and Mark Shuttleworth. They are well known South African innovators, but they didn't make their money in South Africa and they certainly aren't going to invest it in South African innovations. That should be the first sign...

      Koos - 2012-04-05 03:38

      You don't load your cargo(investment) on a sinking ship.

  • Jacques - 2012-04-04 18:08

    Well, think about this: who would want to try and create entrepreneurs when the government tries it's level best to discourage entrepreneurial enterprise? Tax, red tape, BEE...

  • Jean - 2012-04-04 18:27

    Strange... cos during apartheid (not that i'm agreeing with apartheid) SA had some of the best universities/education... something OBVIOUSLY went wrong... ANC!

      Koos - 2012-04-05 03:40

      Today your degree/diploma is not worth anything outside of South Africa. A simple thing like your drivers license is not directly convertable.

  • Bryan - 2012-04-04 18:33

    Is this the opportune moment to make this statement when we are trying to convince member countries that SA and Africa are the best hosts for the SKA. We have a far less stable government than Australia which undoubtedly is going to play against us and now the minister say's our universities are not up to scratch.

  • Eduard - 2012-04-05 06:55

    It is called incompetence at the top

  • MSGRule - 2012-04-05 11:13

    Ja jong....after she screwed up the Education department now blamign it for not having the bestes and the brightest in the universities. And making statements like this at this time. The cANCer will blame and blame until it is all dead and gone then will say...what happend we had such good plans but we drank all the milk and honey and have eaten the cow and swatetd that darn bee.

  • Gerry - 2012-04-05 11:46

    The ANC have promoted a culture of entitlement, acceptance of very low standards, and promoted the incompetent to positions of power based solely on political persuasion and outdated “revolutionary” ideology. They have emptied the piggy bank for personal gain and have forgotten what it is to serve their countrymen. The chickens have come home to roost. Why are ANC leaders suddenly so surprised that the country is slowly imploding? In the words of Forest Gump “stupid is as stupid does.” Pandor to her credit has realised the dire straights we are in but I fear it is almost too late for the “rainbow nation generation” and unless the ANC is unseated we are doomed to be ruled by the stupids. “People blame their environment. There is only one person to blame -- and only one -- themselves.” Robert Collier

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