Go back

South Africa’s CSIR unveils R100m tech-transfer company

 Image: DSI

New public-owned entity to “drive leading technologies and innovations to the market”

South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has launched a R100 million (US$5.3m) technology development and commercialisation company.

The company, which was announced on 25 October and is named CSIR C3 (pronounced CSIR C-cubed), is fully owned by the CSIR. It will hold the council’s intellectual property and incubate startup enterprises, “de-risking” the process by providing “adequate financial resources” for commercialisation, the council said in a statement.

“The decision to establish a standalone special purpose technology-commercialisation company was driven by the necessity to work with industry and to accelerate the commercialisation of the intellectual property that the organisation generates,” said CSIR chief executive officer Thulani Dlamini.

“Through this initiative, we will collaborate with various partners to create innovation-based companies, to support the re-industrialisation of our economy.”

More investment needed

The CSIR is a public research and technology development organisation based in Pretoria. Its role is to research, develop, localise and diffuse technologies to accelerate South Africa’s economy and improve the wellbeing of its citizens.

CSIR C3 will address some of the council’s commercialisation challenges, and also tackle the country’s industrialisation challenges, the council said in a statement.

The level of South Africa’s industrial R&D has plummeted in recent years and the country’s economy has taken strain from the Covid pandemic, government corruption and an ailing electricity network that fails to supply adequate power to industries.

In addition, the country is lagging behind on its technology-transfer targets, Dlamini told a parliamentary committee hearing on science and technology on 20 October.

Dlamini told MPs that the country’s technology transfer and innovation funding model “needs to be relooked at”. He said that the budget of the country’s Technology Innovation Agency, which is tasked with supporting technology-transfer projects, needs to be “10 times” its current rate.

“Those are the systemic issues we need to address,” Dlamini said, adding that the CSIR entity launched this week was a step in the right direction.