Innovation System in Biotechnology: South African Approach of Development

Swapan Kumar Patra*

Mammo Muchie**


South Africa is among the African countries that have taken initiatives to develop biotechnology industry to meet the persistent challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality. Biotechnology Innovation System of South Africa is analysed in this study using the three building blocks of sectoral system of innovation (SSI). The study also benchmarks South African performance with that of other BRICS countries such as Brazil, Russia, India and China. Although the South African biotechnology market is quite small compared to other BRICS countries, its potential to grow is high. The scholarly publication patterns from the Medline database show that the knowledge base in this sector is small compared to other countries. However the South African scholarly papers are highly cited. The high citations of South African life science papers show their relevance at the global level. The patent portfolio is also very small and limited to a few technological categories. The publication and patent portfolios show that university research output is not readily being translated into commercial products. Although there are many example of university spin-off firms in biotechnology, findings from this study demonstrate that there is a need for a stronger university-industry relationship to encourage innovation for entrepreneurial start-ups.

Keywords: Biotechnology, South Africa, Sectoral System of Innovation, Developing Countries, Global South

Forthcoming article in Asian Biotechnology and Development Review, Vol. 19 No. 1, pp 1-28

Ethiopian e-Journal for Research and Innovation Foresight (Ee-JRIF), Vol 7, No 1 (2015)

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Innovation, learning and building capacity

The overall objective of scientific research is to generate new knowledge, new technology and enable innovative thinking. These in turn create future economic growth and wealth through entrepreneurship and availability of new technologies and new outputs.


Ethiopian e-Journal for Research and Innovation Foresight (Ee-JRIF) Vol 6, No 2 (2014)

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Innovation for Service Delivery Excellence

Innovation is related to what Joseph Schumpeter defined as creative destruction. The sources for innovative activity are varied making innovative outcomes to come from diverse sources. Innovation can be seen to be interconnected to a variety of fields such as technology, engineering, management and services.



Interface: a journal for and about social movements is a peer-reviewed journal of practitioner research produced by movement participants and engaged academics. Interface is globally organised in a series of different regional collectives, and is produced as a multilingual journal. Peer-reviewed articles have been subject to double-blind review by one researcher and one movement practitioner.

The views expressed in any contributions to Interface: a journal for and about social movements are those of the authors and contributors, and do not necessarily represent those of Interface, the editors, the editorial collective, or the organizations to which the authors are affiliated. Interface is committed to the free exchange of ideas in the best tradition of intellectual and activist inquiry.

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