Great expectations: The state of biotechnology research and development in South Africa

  • M Gastrow
Keywords: Biotechnology, research, development.


As biotechnology industries are knowledge-intensive, Research and Experimental Development (R and D) are key drivers of growth. Governments and businesses have an interest in creating an environment that stimulates R and D and the commercialisation thereof. Discourse relating to the best means to support biotechnology R and D is extensive. However, there has to date a paucity of quantitative data
describing biotechnology R and D in South Africa. This paper therefore offers a brief quantitative profile of South Africa’s biotechnology R and D. These findings provide key indicators of scale, scope, ownership, sectorial division, geographical distribution and collaborative structure. Bibliometric and patent data are used, as well as data sourced from the National Survey of Research and Experimental Development Inputs. It is found that South Africa’s biotechnology R and D investment is small by international standards, but a leader in the African context. There are moreover certain collaborative networks, geographical clusters, and industry applications that demonstrate a high concentration of R
and D, which may indicate a path towards achieving critical mass in these areas. Finally, the 2005/6 data used here may be used as baseline data to monitor and evaluate the national 2008 National
Biotechnology strategy.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1684-5315