The 6th Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Conference themed ‘Ideas that Work for Industrial Development’, will take place at the CSIR International Conference Centre, Pretoria East on October 5 and 6 this year.
This biennial event will address issues facing the South African manufacturing sector and how opportunities for dialogue and collaboration can be successfully interwoven for the benefit of South African industry.
The CSIR is globally recognised as a world-class African research and development organisation. It undertakes multidisciplinary research and technological innovation that contributes to the improved quality of life of South Africans. The CSIR supports the government’s programmes through directed research that is aligned with the country’s priorities, the organisation’s mandate and its science, engineering and technology competences.
“From ministers, industry partners, captains of industry, chief executives, scientists, businessmen and women, entrepreneurs and engineers, our 6th Conference for Industrial Development will offer delegates the opportunity to hear new perspectives and philosophies as to how industries can be enhanced by embracing new processes and innovation,” says CSIR industrial development group Executive Dr Rachel Chikwamba.
She mentions that the reliance of South African business on historically traditional industries, such as mining and minerals is not sustainable, nor will it make our economy competitive.
While these traditional industries will remain important for the foreseeable future, Chikwamba notes that their fortunes could be improved tremendously by harnessing the new technology waves impacting both extraction and value addition. It is the new emerging industries where bold new opportunities for economic competitiveness lie.
“We need to identify and embrace new sectors of industry, new technology and support the creative and innovative minds of entrepreneurs. Globally, the trend is to look forward and grow in new areas – areas not previously focused on or even have been aware of. This conference will present and debate some of the challenges that industry faces and the ingenuity that could see it prosper,” she points out.
She further mentions that all these discussions of course take place against a backdrop of our social-economic reality of poverty, inequality and unemployment, which industry must help address.
“We at the CSIR have been reflecting seriously on our mandate, which is to foster scientific and technical development and to support industrial development to improve the quality of our people. Conversations around the decline in manufacturing competitiveness in the country have led us to the decision to intensify our focus on the ‘I’ in CSIR – industrial.”
Chikwamba highlights that the council accomplished a great deal through endeavours in science, engineering and technology over the years and have established a very solid foundation of expertise and infrastructure. Currently, the CSIR is at a juncture where it is considering how to build upon its existing solid foundation for the benefit of South African industry in its totality.
“Recently, we galvanised focus and effort from within the organisation in order to put together a strategy for industrial development.
The result is our recently launched Project Synapse – it is about connecting innovation with industrial and economic competitiveness and about traversing the gap between research and development in actual industrial applications”.
Therefore, the CSIR believes that the conference, its breakaway sessions and exhibits will not only highlight its commitment to this renewed focus on industrial development, but facilitate sufficient national and international debate and interest to move this initiative forward successfully.
The opening session on October 5, will see delegates addressed by CSIR CEO Dr Thulani Dlamini, Trade and Industry Minister Dr Rob Davies, CSIR trade and industrial policy strategy executive director Saul Levin, Industrial Development Corporation economic research and information head Jorge Maia, National Student Financial Aid Scheme and National Empowerment Collaboration chairperson and Future Nation Schools founder Sizwe Nxasana.
The first set of parallel sessions will cover topics such as: localisation for industrial development, small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) development in the bioeconomic sector; valued-adding alternatives for industrial competitiveness; infrastructure innovation as an enabler for industrial development; growth and transformation of the South African defence and aerospace industry; the elusive competitive advantage of local pharmaceutical manufacturing; industrial development in the transport sector; opportunities and risks of shale gas development; as well as product lifecycle management in the context of industrial development.
The second set of parallel sessions will be addressing the theme of ‘The Changing Face of Manufacturing: Industry 4.0’ and cover topics such as digitisation to foster industrial development; emerging manufacturing technologies; cybersecurity; a competitive aerospace sector; disruptive mobile technologies for media entrepreneurs; funding of instruments for industrial development; industrial development and climate change: Opportunities and responsibilities under the Paris Agreement; industrial development for medical devices and diagnostics; and industrial development and its link to water.
Each session will offer delegates the opportunity to engage with expert, high-level delegates.
Day two will also afford delegates the opportunity to tour the CSIR National Laser Centre and the Biomanufacturing Industry
Development Centre in addition to observing associated demonstrations.
The full conference programme can be accessed via: https://conference2017.csir.co.za/conference-glance
CSIR state-of-the-art facilities
The CSIR offers opportunities for entrepreneurs to bring their innovative ideas to fruition through the utilisation of the CSIR’s various state-of-the art facilities.
The organisation assists in the establishment of appropriate quality assurances and protocols needing to be utilised for successful industrial development.
Some of the industries where the CSIR has successfully collaborated include: agroprocessing through biomanufacturing, nanotechnology for the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry and biorefinery technology for the forestry sector.
Work with SMMEs in the waste sector, has not been to only improve the green footprint, but to add value to the waste process chain.
Biomanufacturing Industry Development Centre (BIDC)
The BIDC is a first of its kind in South Africa and it aims to support SMMEs involved in bio-manufacturing to meet their customer needs within short time-frames.
Nanomaterials Industrial Development Facility
The facility aims to assist the plastics and cosmetics industries, amongst others, to develop new nanotechnologies and processes.
Addressing the technological development of the plastics industry will enable the industry to keep up with international trends.
The Photonics Prototyping Facility
The Photonics Prototyping Facility provides world-class facilities, technical support, equipment and scarce skills to help industrialise photonics-based technologies. It acts as the catalyst to build a globally competitive photonics industry in South Africa.
Biorefinery Industry Development Facility
This facility has cutting-edge analytical and pilot-scale equipment for biorefinery technology development and troubleshooting industrial biomass processing challenges. The facility focuses on development and testing of biorefinery technologies in the South African context and is based in Durban.
Over 30 CSIR technologies and innovations will be showcased at the CSIR 6th Conference – Ideas that work for Industrial Development. From a wide-area persistant surveillance system; a pod for testing systems in flight; gas turbines for self-launch gliders and missiles through to an ultrasonic broken rail detection system; photonics prototyping and low-cost cement replacement.
The CSIR’s national Oceans and Coastal Information Management System for developing and supporting the blue economy will also be demonstrated.
Addressing the Questions
Many critical questions need to be addressed to enable industry to be able to participate in the current global wave of industrial innovation. The CSIR believes questions such as: “‘What can be done to be more innovative?” “Where are the global trends and megatrends and how do we become involved?” “How do we improve our skills base in industry?” “Where will we find the skills we need to be competitive?” “Where are the frontier scientists?” “How do we fund these initiatives?” “How do we ensure that our entrepreneurs are not reduced to the simplest low-value contributions?” “How do we improve our local capability to make our production more competitive?”
Chikwamba commented “Serious engagement through dialogue is required to answer these questions. International companies have expertise on and exposure to evolving global events. How do we partner with them and how do we become part of the international value chain in specific sectors, so that our economy can be stimulated and grow to the level we need it to reach?
These are some of the issues that will be debated at our 6th Conference”.
“The conference is not all about the CSIR, it is about how industry can share with us the challenges that they face in embracing global new-wave technologies and ensuring their local manufacturing systems are efficient, competitive and create employment.
Over 1 500 delegates will be engaging with various speakers, panellists and exhibitors that will be participating at the conference.
The CSIR as host needs to listen and absorb the valuable content that dialogue at this conference will provide in order to identify the ways and means to move forward. There is great optimism for and within South Africa, let’s share the ideas to make our industrial development happen” Chikwamba concludes.