Department of Science and Innovation visits UKZN
The Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), previously known as the Department of Science and Technology (DST), visited UKZN to share its policies and proposals on Science, Technology and Innovation.
UKZN’s Deputy-Vice Chancellor for Research: Professor Deresh Ramjugernath, welcomed the delegation and thanked them for their visit, he further went on to discuss the University’s strategy of research and innovation and its aim to collaborate with the Department. ‘We want to work closely with DSI in achieving not only our vision and mission but also the country’s,’ said Ramjugernath.
In his address, DSI Director General Dr Phil Mjwara mentioned three reasons for his visit - to share the thinking around some of the work currently being done by his Department; to understand what it means to be the newly formed Department of Science and Innovation, and to re-establish its relationship and policies with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET).
Mjwara addressed some of the global trends the DSI was looking at adopting, including creating support systems to harness commercialising intellectual property from public institutions, and using innovation policy to deal with the transition to social justice, inclusive and responsible economic growth, and environmental sustainability.
Focusing on the innovation and technology used by various companies and government departments to compete globally, Mjwara urged organisations to start thinking about how they could survive in the new global competitive environment through solving problems and enhancing service delivery in order for the Department to support them.
He identified the following dimensions of knowledge exploitation that remain relevant through research and development: facilitating the development of new industries; supporting existing sectors (eg mining, agriculture and manufacturing); and supporting localisation, education, rural development and health outcomes.
Mjwara listed what the Department had achieved in partnership with communities, research institutions and universities with examples ranging from natural products such as honey bush and noodles with moringa; drone and precision farming of wheat; and hydrogen refueled scooters and forklifts.
He discussed the objectives of the 2019 Science, Technology and Innovation White Paper adopted in March this year. ‘We want to make an impact on the economy and think differently around issues of education and social development, increasing this to impact and scale. We would like government and society as a whole to have an approach to innovation and instil a culture of valuating Science, Technology and Innovation. We want to create an enabling and inclusive government environment, and increase and transform human capabilities as well as research systems. We want to expand and transform institutional landscapes,’ added Mjwara.
Words: Hlengiwe Precious Khwela
Photograph: Itumeleng Masa