Department seeks to double spend on science, technology and innovation

The Department of Science and Technology is determined to double South Africa’s expenditure on research and development as a percentage of the country's gross domestic product - from 0.76% to 1.5% over the next decade.

This was revealed at a Department of Science and Technology briefing on Monday ahead of the department's release of its white paper on science, technology and innovation.

The white paper seeks to inform government's approach to innovation, science and technology research as well as South Africa's response to the fourth industrial revolution.

One of the major concerns that companies and institutions with major research and innovation components have when investing in South Africa is whether their intellectual property will be protected.

This financial commitment, if met, would mean that government spending on research and development would increase from about R32bn (as estimated from late 2017) to more than R64bn by 2028, depending on GDP figures posted over the next 10 years.

Speaking to reporters in Pretoria, Minister of Science and Technology Mmamaloko Kubayi-Ngubane said this would be done through improving incentives for business sponsored research and development and attracting foreign investment.

“It will be implemented through regular updated decadal plans, which will be based on performance evaluation and foresight, as well as collaborative planning with relevant business sectors and government departments,” said Kubayi-Ngubane.

Deputy Director-General in the department Imraan Patel said government already had a host of incentives which would help to boost private sector participation in the field.

“The context of incentives is increasing the amount that SA spends on research and innovation. There is the research and development tax incentive which is beginning to demonstrate value in attracting private sector investment,” said Patel.

Director-General Phil Mjwara said current legislation empowers those that are going to work in these sectors to be the holders of intellectual property and that ongoing reviews would address investor concerns.

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