The Academy of Science of South Africa highlighted that science and humanities can be balanced, that there is a need for a regional network and that science advice, and what the Academy of Science of South Africa terms consensus studies, is necessary so that government can be provided with research-based advice, on issues such as Artificial Intelligence, climate change, nutrition and so forth. Consensus studies conducted by the Academy stood out in its presentation, as did the Committee’s interest in these.
He also listed direct and indirect ways in which the Academy contributed to Triple Challenges (Poverty, Inequality and Unemployment) and the National Development Plan.
The Academy’s four lead programmes were: Governance and Administration; the Scholarly Publishing Programme; the Liaison Programme; and the Science Advisory Programme. The Liaison programme, includes five strategic objectives: to increase and diversify membership of ASSAF, especially that of women and black persons; to recognise and reward excellence in science and promote scholarly activity; to collaborate and strengthen African academies and strategic partnership to increase the participation of young scientists; and to increase the participation of women and the application of the gender lens.
The Academy’s compliance to the Public Finance Management Act was a key area of concern, however, the nature of the organisation is explanatory thereof. Open science remains a priority to the Academy through its various programmes, which are divided into: Governance and Administration, the Scholarly Publishing Programme, the Liaison programme and the Science Advisory Programme.
The Technology Innovation Agency emphasised the importance of accelerating technology development for service delivery innovation.
Highlights for the last four years include: 205 knowledge products developed; 44 projects taken up by the market, 8550 SMMEs supported; a multiplier score of 3.38, R89 million in royalties received from supported projects; R63. Million receipts from disposal/sale of mature technology development projects; R1.6 billion in grants disbursed to support technology development and infrastructure; R12.8 million in interest on loans for technology development projects; and R180.3 million in loans advanced. An important indicator for the TIA, is that, for every Rand given, TIA gives R3.3 in value.
The organisation seeks to maintain its high-performance culture and continue its nil roll-overs and will employ the Hub-n-Spoke Model and Glass Pipeline concept. Job creation, support for Small Medium and Micro Enterprises and sustainability risks remain high on the Agency’s agenda.
Members commended the Academy of Science of SA for its excellent work, especially considering budgetary constraints, as was Technology Innovation Agency, since it operates in a high-risk environment. The biggest concerns of the Committee were the low levels of interest in maths and science amongst school pupils across the country. Members enquired about the number of fulltime staff at the Academy, how much money the Academy requires to operate optimally and whether it would be feasible to employ more fulltime staff. What are the costs involved in conducting research and how the Academy would rate the level of South African academics internationally? Members asked how the Academy and the National Research Foundation collaborate with the Science Engagement Programme? What was the outcome of the consensus study on Postgraduate Research Training in Engineering?
Members asked how Technology Innovation Agency’s funding model differs to The Technology and Human Resources for Industry Programme; Is there a specific funding model for all projects or do they differ according to projects? Why was there a substantial drop of R43 million in income the previous year? Members sought clarity on the amount stipulated alongside the allocation letter and asked whether the Agency follows up on Small Medium and Micro Enterprises once projects have been established, to determine viability of these; and how does Agency ensure that they continue to grow and remain relevant to the market, how are they popularised?
The Committee implored the Academy of Science to appeal for funding and for the Technology Innovation Agency to focus on follow-ups on Small Medium and Micro Enterprises.
Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAF)Annual Performance Plan 2018/2019
Professor Jonathan Jansen, President of the Academy of Science of South Africa, highlighted the Academy’s mandate, goals and listed strategic outcome-oriented goals (indicating how ASSAF aligns with government goals) and accompanying activities:
- Recognition and reward of excellence
- Promotion of innovation and scholarly activity
- Promotion of effective evidence-based scientific advice
- Promotion of public interest in and awareness of science and science education
- Promotion of national, regional and international linkages
Prof Jansen also listed direct and indirect ways in which ASSAF contributed to Triple Challenges (Poverty, Inequality and Unemployment) and the National Development Plan (NDP). Direct contributions to Triple Challenges include the Academy’s Standing Committee on Science for the Reduction of Poverty & Inequality was reconstituted, transformation within the Academy in terms of race and gender and, lastly, interns were employed and equipped with marketable skills. Indirect contributions include the hosting of the Annual Meeting of African Science Academies (2016), hosting of the Young Scientist Conference on Human Rights (2016) and raising science awareness through Quest.
ASSAF’s four lead programmes were discussed.
Governance and administration, is concerned with the Academy’s range of activities with a small budget, focusing on communication and aligning with the latest technologies, especially social media. The main issue identified in this programme, is proper governance of the organisation.
The Scholarly Publishing Programme, where the Academy has established an open science platform to make the best published research available via the African Open Science Platform. The three strategic objectives of the Programme are to increase visibility, accessibility and searchability of South African accredited scholarly journals, to improve the quality of South African journals, to promote the visibility and impact of South African and African research through the South African Journal of Science and to promote awareness of science among the youth through Quest.
The Liaison programme, includes five strategic objectives:
(1) to increase and diversify membership of ASSAF, especially that of women and black persons,
(2) to recognise and reward excellence in science and promote scholarly activity,
(3) to collaborate and strengthen African academies and strategic partnerships,
(4) to increase the participation of young scientists,
(5) to increase the participation of women and the application of the gender lens.
The Science Advisory Programme, focuses on scholarly engagement on key national and global challenges and evidence-based science in support of policy development, in areas such as health studies, education studies, Science for Reduction of Poverty and Inequality, Humanities, Biosafety and Biosecurity, Climate Change and energy studies.
Mr M Chiloane, Financial Manager, ASSAF, presented the projected budget summary for 2018/2019 to 2020/2021. He pointed out that the total projected revenue for 2018/2019 was at R38 39 922 and R34 939 775 for 2020/2021. Concluding, he added that the budget has increased due to the Department of Science and Technology (DST) allocating more money to ASSAF along with the funding of external sources.
The Chairperson thanked ASSAF for their work, commending them and expressing the Minister’s concern about the budget, thankful for external funding.
Mr N Koornhof (ANC), referring to the fourth slide, asked what the challenges to increased knowledge generation were. What is the meaning of open science mentioned on the fourteenth slide and why is there a lack of South African pupils enrolling for maths and science.
Dr A Lotriet (DA) enquired about the number of fulltime staff at ASSAF, how much money the Academy requires to operate optimally and whether it would be feasible to employ more fulltime staff. What are the costs involved in conducting research and how would ASSAF rate the level of South African academics internationally?
Ms C King (DA) inquired about progress made regarding compliance to the PFMA. How will ASSAF and the National Research Foundation (NRF) collaborate with the Science Engagement Programme? What was the outcome of the consensus study on Postgraduate Research Training in Engineering? Concerning Mr Koornhof’s question, would it be better to revert to standard and higher-grade maths and science?
Prof Jansen responded that government does not recognise the urgency of what happens in schools, adding that up to 500 000 children drop out, mostly in grade ten. He emphasised the gap between children who go to good early childhood centres and those who do not, highlighting the implications of weak foundations and the structure of opportunity. The state of schools in terms of infrastructure and the capacity of teachers is also problematic. The problem with knowledge generation is predator journals, however, the country has an outstanding class of researchers.
Ms Susan Veldsman, Director: Scholarly Publishing Unit, ASSAF, explained that open science refers to open access to research, outputs and data, so that people can use and reuse that data. ASSAF has considered incentivisation of researchers to contribute their data and has advocated for openness in the national and African research systems.
Mr Chiloane confirmed that ASSAF has a staff commitment of thirty-four but remains inadequately staffed due to budgetary constraints. Furthermore, there are three staff members in the finance department and only two in supply chain. With regard to the PFMA, the Science & Technology Laws Amendment Bill is listed as an entity to be considered and the requirement of ASSAF to comply with the PFMA has been removed. Despite this, ASSAF wants to align with the PFMA.
Prof Jansen said he could not yet provide feedback on the status of the consensus study on Postgraduate Research Training in Engineering but will do so as soon as the document is finalised. Furthermore, it is feasible for ASSAF to have a permanent president and a deputy president, especially for international networking, as this would relieve the CEO. The costs of consensus studies academics are covered by tertiary institutions. He will take up the question of science engagement with new Minister but thought more efficiency is possible if collaborating with NRF.
Ms T Mfulo (ANC) asked if ASSAF was given permission to not comply with the PFMA.
Mr Chiloane replied that, based on the nature of the Academy, where top persons volunteer and contribute their work without remuneration, ASSAF's work cannot be quantified and no performance indicators exist. However, ASSAF will make every effort to align with the PFMA’s requirements.
Prof Jansen responded that members of the Academy are amongst the best scholars in the world and receive various awards; therefore the knowledge production is of high standards.
The Chairperson added that the Amendment Bill would clarify this matter.
Dr Lotriet asked how many vacancies existed and the impact of that on compliance?
Prof Jansen answered that the biggest vacancy at present is that of CEO. The problem is not so much lack of compliance but lack of staff, however, ASSAF does comply.
The Chairperson thanked ASSAF and encouraged the organisation to advocate for more funds.
Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) Annual Performance Plans 2018/2019
Mr B Manilal, CEO, TIA, discussed the entity’s original business case, and emphasised that all the activities of the TIA should support the National Development Plan. The TIA has four impact areas that it operates in: connector, facilitator, active funder and enabler. The TIA’s role is to provide access to technical expertise, provide funding, capacitate the NSI, facilitate and assist innovators to secure funding, enable access to high-end equipment, provide innovation skills development and to serve as an advisor.
The past two years had been dedicated to stabilising the organisation, but a growth strategy is now the focus, so that national momentum can be gained according to the Hub and Spoke Model. The goal is for TIA to become a service provider for government departments, and key to this is innovation in service delivery. As such, the focus areas to accelerate technology development are: innovation for industry renewal, innovation for industry competitiveness and innovation for enhanced service delivery.
TIA operates between applied research and the offtake thereof, therefore, demand and supply needs to be synchronised. The entire value chain needs to be characterised by total visibility, encapsulated by the Glass Pipeline Model. TIA now has a more enhanced strategic approach than before. The Agency has also identified the gap of lack of support for Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) and has acknowledged the need for rapid response funding instruments to fast track application to approval.
Funding and programmes include:
- The Seed Funds,
- Technology Development Fund,
- Commercialisation Support Fund,
- Technology Stations Programmes,
- Technology Platforms Programme,
- Innovation Skills Development,
- Youth Technology Innovation Programmes, and
- Technology Innovation Cluster Programmes. Innovation for inclusive development remains a priority, as
The TIA has been working with various metros, looking at grassroots innovation and socio-economic interventions.
TIA aligns with national government policies and priorities, especially the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF), the first plan of the NDP.
TIA’s highlights for the last four years, are the following:
- 205 knowledge products developed,
- 44 projects taken up by the market, 8550 SMMEs supported,
- a multiplier score of 3.38, R89 million in royalties received from supported projects,
- R63. Million receipts from disposal/sale of mature technology development projects,
- R1.6 billion in grants disbursed to support technology development and infrastructure,
- R12.8 million in interest on loans for technology development projects and
- R180.3 million in loans advanced.
An important indicator for the TIA, is that, for every Rand given, TIA gives R3.3 in value.
The three strategic outcome-oriented goals are to support commercialisation of technological innovations, to increase infrastructure access for technology development and to stimulate an agile and responsive NSI.
With regard to progress in implementation of the Ministerial and DST inputs for 2017/2018, TIA has integrated backwards and forwards; engaging various tertiary institutions and supporting downstream innovation, whilst engaging institutional funders and private sector funders. International partnerships have also been established, those in Africa being prioritised, as the Africa Programme illustrates.
Performance targets are based on the following strategic objectives: to provide technology development funding and support in strategic, high-impacted areas, to provide through leadership and an enabling environment for Technology Innovation in collaboration with other role-players and to develop an effective and efficient internal environment. Performance indicators of all three have shown positive results and improvements for 2018/2019 compared to 2017/2018. Other income as percentage of total income for 2018/2019 is expected to be at 21.7% (R536.6 million), and total expenditure is expected to be R536.6 million, of which thirty-five percent is admin expenditure.
TIA wold like to maintain its high-performance culture and continue its nil roll-overs and will employ the Hub-n-Spoke Model and Glass Pipeline concept. Rapid-response funding remains a priority, Youth Programmes, service delivery innovation and the introduction of a Black Economic Empowerment and Equity Policy remain the organisations key priorities.
Dr Lotriet expressed a noticeable difference between the work of the TIA today and before. With regard to the highlights discussed, and the Rand value compared to TIA’s economic impact, has job creation been included in the programmes?
Mr Koornhof asked how TIA’s funding model differs to The Technology and Human Resources for Industry Programme (THRIP). Can TIA do THRIP’s job? Is there a specific funding model for all projects or do they differ according to projects? Why was there a substantial drop of R43 million in income the previous year?
Ms N Ndongeni (ANC) sought clarity on the amount stipulated alongside the allocation letter and asked whether TIA follows up on SMMEs once projects have been established, to determine viability of these.
Ms Mfulo echoed the question related to after care of SMMEs. How does TIA ensure that they continue to grow and remain relevant to the market, how are they popularised?
The Chairperson recalled such a case, where a man funded by TIA was not followed up with. She inquired as to where royalties go to, yet commended the TIA on their progress, adding that a national television campaign would be well-received.
Mr Manilal responded that an efficiency ratio is followed in terms of royalties, between overheads and funding and these go back into projects. The work - study process looks at entire processes of the organisation, including interdependencies within. Acting positions remain due to orientation and senior positions that are acting are intentionally left as such.
With regard to SMMEs, TIA deals with a specific mandate within a sphere of influence and is focused on innovation, therefore, SMMEs focused on innovation. TIA takes projects up to pre-commercialisation, doing development, then it goes into industry, which is the responsibility of the Department of Trade and Industry and the domain of the Department of Small Business Development. TIA has partnered with incubators, such as the Small Enterprise Development Agency, to consider how ongoing support can be provided. TIA does not have a good follow up system. The allocation letter is in millions, as received from DST.
There is a project-specific funding structure and, with regard to job creation, the economic impact assessment considers direct and secondary jobs. It should have been included in the presentation, but this can be made available. For every R1 million spent, 3.8 million jobs are created.
There are similarities between THRIP and TIA's instruments; TIA has similar capacity building projects and relationships with higher education institutions. TIA can do THRIP, however, he acknowledges hesitation about TIA’s capability. Lastly, the R43 million drop was due to the sale of a project called Kapa Biosystems.
Ms King asked about risks associated with sustainability. Does TIA face any challenges when it comes to attracting investment?
Mr Manilal responded that TIA has two important measures, the first of which is around the efficiency ratio, to ensure that costs are not bloated, as at 2016/2017. Furthermore, TIA receives royalty income and other income streams, however, TIA is not ignorant of sustainability risks. Operational costs are maintained and controlled rigorously. This is not, however, the best approach, as innovation drives the national economy. The NSI has been assessed and most government departments do not spend their allocated budgets, but the Hub and Spoke Model should assist with this. With regards to attracting investors, TIA has little commercial appeal to market players, therefore, at this stage, not many private sector volunteers approach the Agency.
The meeting was adjourned.
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