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CSIR pushes to localise technologies
26 June 2019, News

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has pledged to work closely with the private sector and innovation partners in developing and localising technologies to support the advancement of industries in South Africa.

The organisation has recently finalised its new strategy, which aims to leverage its strong science, engineering and technology capabilities to respond to industrial development opportunities and create a more balanced portfolio of scientific and industrial development work, as required by its mandate. The strategy is built around the vision of accelerating socioeconomic prosperity in South Africa, through leading innovation. To achieve this, the organisation will leverage emerging technologies, especially those rooted in the fourth industrial revolution, as well as its current capabilities and those of its partners.

The chairperson of the CSIR Board, Professor Thokozani Majozi, and CSIR chief executive officer, Dr Thulani Dlamini, shared the organisation’s plans and focus areas at a media briefing in Pretoria on Friday, 24 May 2019. Majozi said that there is an urgent need for the CSIR to respond to the needs of the private sector, and that collaboration would strengthen industrial development, thus creating much-needed jobs in the country.

“The technologies that we develop must be aligned with the needs of industry and should assist in improving the lives of our people. The ultimate goal plan is to harness our resources and skills to support government and industry, thereby collectively contributing to the alleviation of unemployment, inequality and poverty in South Africa,” said Majozi.

“In 2017, the CSIR embarked on a process to amplify the ‘I’ in CSIR. The vision behind this initiative was to broaden the scope of growth opportunities for the organisation by deepening its relationships with industry in a manner that fosters industrial development. In doing so, we will always ensure that we balance our scientific and technological innovation in accordance with our mandate,” added Majozi.

Dlamini said the strategy provides a clear ­direction on how the CSIR innovates and localises technologies in collaboration with others, while providing knowledge solutions for the inclusive and sustainable advancement of industry, as well as the broader society.

The CSIR strategy is centred on nine clusters to address national priorities, including public good science, potential for socioeconomic impact and the fourth industrial revolution.

The clusters are NextGen Health; Advanced Agriculture and Food; Future Production: Chemicals; Future Production: Manufacturing; Future Production: Mining; Defence and Security; Smart Places; NextGen Enterprises and Institutions; and Smart Logistics.

Dlamini added that there is an array of technologies that are ready for commercialisation and need industry partners, citing a smart sensor developed to monitor indoor airborne infection risk, such as the risk of tuberculosis spreading.

The technology is being piloted in public hospitals and peri-urban homes. Together with its online back end, it offers a new platform for indoor environmental quality management and research. “This technology is suitable for high-risk settings – congregate social facilities, such as hospitals, clinic waiting rooms and correctional centres. For us to take these technologies forward, we need partners; we need business and government support,” he said.

The CSIR is developing defence and security capabilities for South Africa’s borders, while fostering cybersecure platforms to conduct business. The ‘Meerkat’ wide area surveillance system was designed to detect and track rhino poachers at poaching hotspots in the Kruger National Park.

The CSIR continues to invest in new infrastructure and pilot scale equipment, enterprise support and skills development.

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