SA Minister Nzimande launches CSIR C3 to drive leading technologies and innovations to the market

The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, has launched a new commercialisation enterprise through the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). The new entity, called CSIR C(pronounced C-cubed), will accelerate the pace and increase the scale of the commercialisation of its technologies and intellectual property.

Owned entirely by the CSIR, the new company will provide financial resources and support along the technology de-risking process through to commercialisation. The standalone enterprise will hold all the CSIR’s intellectual property and act as an incubator for start-up enterprises underpinned by strong technical and non-financial support. It will enable the commercialisation of CSIR intellectual property through the development of a network of investors and entrepreneurs who will work closely with innovators to get their products to market.

Speaking at the launch event in Sandton, Johannesburg, Minister Nzimande said the new company demonstrates how far South African innovation has come, while looking to the future. “The launch also serves as an opportunity to engage in dialogue to see the road we traversed as a country in science, engineering and innovation, the commercialisation of our technologies, and our plans going forward,” added the Minister.

Technology commercialisation has the potential to contribute to economic transformation by introducing diverse new products and services to the market.

“This can ultimately result in the creation of new products, as well as the establishment of new businesses and industries that can serve as a base for full-scale localisation and industrialisation,” said the Minister.

CSIR C3 aims to enhance the institute’s efforts to catalyse the re-industrialisation of South Africa by establishing new technology-based enterprises and providing value to various stakeholders. The ultimate aim of the enterprise is to grow the South African economy in line with the country’s Decadal Plan on Science, Technology and Innovation.

CSIR CEO Dr Thulani Dlamini said: “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.”

CSIR Chairperson Vuyani Jarana said the CSIR has developed many technologies and products that are ready to be de-risked, scaled up, and taken to the market.

“The establishment of CSIR C3 is an important turning point for the CSIR. For close to 80 years, the CSIR has sustained a track record of contributing to industrial development through the development of technologies that improve the performance and competitiveness of existing industrial products, processes and services. Some of these technologies require funding to take the final step towards commercialisation, while others are ready to be taken up by the market.”

To this end, the CSIR has raised R100 million as an initial investment into CSIR C3 to de-risk its technologies and improve market readiness. At the launch, the CSIR introduced various stakeholders and investors to about 18 of its top technologies that are ready for commercial uptake. They range in fields from health, logistics and Earth observation in support of industry, to defence and security. Some of these pioneering technologies include: formulations for biodegradable plastic; “green” cement technologies; a kit for the early detection of kidney injuries; a smartphone-based diagnostic tool to detect diseases; a gunshot-detection camera; and a tool that forecasts the motion of moored ships in a port.

The model and approach of CSIR C3 have been informed by global best practices and draw on valuable lessons learnt. The CSIR has contributed significantly to South Africa’s research and development, performing directed research in support of industry and a capable state, and resolving societal challenges across many disciplines and many sectors.

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