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Goal 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure

Goal 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructureBuild resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

The COVID-19 pandemic triggered the greatest economic crisis in decades, with the manufacturing and transport industries among the sectors most impacted by the global restriction of movement of people and goods.

While the crisis offered opportunities to initiate ground-breaking technologies, investment in scientific research and innovation in the least developed countries remained below the global average. Additionally, the number of researchers per million inhabitants in sub-Saharan Africa is only 91, a stark contrast to the 1 163 of Europe and Northern America.

Building research capacity, expertise and infrastructure is central to the Inter-University Institute for Data Intensive Astronomy. UCT is a partner in this initiative which addresses the scientific and technical challenges of big data in astronomy, ensuring that the infrastructure and skills pipeline for data-intensive research are developed at South African universities as the country prepares to host the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

In recent years, the UCT Catalysis Institute, the leading research group in catalysis in South Africa, has focused on carbon dioxide (CO2) conversion technology to lead the development of the country’s hydrogen economy. In its collaboration with Sasol, the institute has made advancements in using this chemistry to convert CO2 and hydrogen into a range of eco-friendly products, including aviation fuel.

At only around 12%, the share of manufacturing in sub-Saharan African GDP is very low. Researchers in Policy Research in International Services and Manufacturing (PRISM) have conducted extensive work on how to promote more rapid and inclusive industrial development on the continent, for example, through expanded regional integration and trade. 

UCT continues to invest in research, development and innovation, allocating capital to a private equity fund that offers financial support to its 24 active spin-off companies. The UCT Evergreen Fund aims to mature opportunities in the pre-commercial or commercial phase of a project’s life and had by the end of 2018 facilitated investments to the value of ZAR34 million.

The Biopharming Research Unit’s impressive record of innovation is illustrated by its members, who are inventors on possibly the largest portfolio of patents at UCT and the largest molecular biotechnology portfolio in South Africa.