Varsities lead way in state research
Universities might appear to be on the back foot after a tumultuous year, but their scientific research work is booming.
Spending on research and development in South African universities more than doubled from R3.6-billion in 2007 to R7.3-billion in 2012, led by a 450% increase in government funding for research, according to a study led by University of Pretoria academic David Walwyn.
"Universities now account for 34% of the total research and development performance in the country, up from 19% in 2007," Walwyn says in a paper in the SA Journal of Science.
"[They] have established closer links with the private sector, set up more technology transfer offices . and adopted the commercialisation of knowledge within institutions as a significant component of their mandate."
Walwyn said increased government funding indicated the "growing role" of universities in the "national system of innovation".
His work also found a decrease in the average cost of research, which "suggests the research labour market is being better supplied".
But he warned the 34% decline in business spending on research was "becoming a major impediment to the potential for future economic growth".