As every business owner or investor knows, innovation is essential for growth on every level, micro and macro. For business owners, innovation can drive the creation of new and improved products and processes that increase their profits.
On a larger scale, innovations that affect a whole sector, such as new or more cost-effective ways to create energy, play a key role in economic growth and development.
When it comes to innovation, an often overlooked area of the world is Africa. However, many African countries are getting serious about creating policies that will support business innovation and spur economic growth.
In a recent interview, financial adviser Christopher Roy Garland noted how Botswana continues to be a shining light in the development of the African continent as a whole. However, South Africa leads the continent in innovation, ranking as the most innovative country in Africa in a 2020 study.
In March 2022, the Human Sciences Research Council’s (HSRC) Centre for Science, Technology, and Innovation Indicators (CeSTII) began the latest round of South Africa’s official Business Innovation Survey for the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI).
They have conducted this survey at different intervals beginning in 1992, with this being the fifth survey since 2005.
The Business Innovation survey is an important tool that helps South African lawmakers draft effective policies that support innovation and productivity while furthering the overall goal of continued development in Africa.
What Does the Business Innovation Survey Measure?
This Business Innovation Survey is meant to measure recent innovations in South African businesses across several sectors, including manufacturing, architecture, electricity, transport, gas, agriculture, communications, water supply, and more.
The HSRC has teamed up with GeoScope to reach out to 5,500 businesses in South Africa between March and September 2022 to complete the survey. Their survey can be completed online or via phone interview.
This round of the Business Innovation Survey focuses on the time period of 2019 to 2021, which was a unique time for every country in the world.
With this survey, leaders hope to gain insight into how the COVID-19 pandemic affected innovation in South Africa. In these precarious times, it’s more important than ever to have clear and accurate data on the current state of innovation.
How Will the Results Be Used?
The results of the South African Business Innovation Survey are used by policy analysts and policymakers to make informed decisions and create effective policies that help businesses and promote economic growth.
These results are also used to assess current policies and government incentives and their effectiveness. For example, the 2014-2016 Business Innovation Survey found that:
- More than two-thirds of South African businesses were innovation-active
- The engineering, tech, manufacturing, and trade sectors experienced the most innovation
- Innovation-active businesses were more likely to access national and global markets
- Most innovation-active businesses did not report collaboration as a main component of developing new innovations
However, it is not fair to assume these findings still hold true today. It is important to have up-to-date information to create policies that reflect the current and economic needs of South Africa. The importance of this information is why this survey is conducted every few years.
The Business Innovation Survey results help inform policymakers on the state of innovation in specific sectors and what kind of support each sector needs from the government.
For example, guided by the Business Innovation Survey, the South African government provides the agriculture sector with support to develop new agricultural technology and improve access for small-scale and fledgling farmers.
As you can see, this survey has a direct impact on the policies that are created in South Africa, which is why the HSRC strongly encourages participation.
When Will the Results Be Available?
As of now, the HSRC expects to analyze the survey results at the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023. Once the results are finalized, they will be published in 2023 on the HSRC’s official website.