DST/NRF/Newton Fund Trilateral Research Chair in Transformative Innovation and Sustainable Development

19 January 2022 15:00 (GMT)
19 January 2022 16:30 (GMT)

The DST/NRF/Newton Fund Trilateral Research Chair in Transformative Innovation, the 4th Industrial Revolution and Sustainable Development is a partnership between three organisations: the host, the University of Johannesburg; the African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS) , which is a research think-tank in Nairobi; and the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), an internationally recognised leading centre research on science, technology and innovation policy, based at the University of Sussex in the UK. Our research programme has the ambition to develop and test a new theoretical framework to understand transformation, in the context of 4IR and from an African perspective. The three partners share a common interest in unpacking the social and technological relationships that explain the rate, direction and patterns of (radical) innovation adoption, diffusion and use. This is a process involving not only technologies but also changes in consumer practices and needs, the skills and capabilities of all actors involved, infrastructures, governance, regulation, industry structure and cultural meaning of the system.

In addition to exploring innovation in 4IR in African countries, by using a transformation lens, our programme also looks at the governance and policy issues of how to exploit the transformative potential of these technologies to address the SDGs. Here the programme collaborates with the existing Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium (TIPC) currently coordinated by the Science and Policy Research Unit (SPRU) and the University of Sussex, UK. The main aim is to ensure that 4IR potential is harnessed for Sub-Saharan Africa and in particular South Africa and Kenya.

Ref: #47

Knowledge infrastructures for transformation
Capacity building


Erika Kraemer-Mbula
Prof Erika Kraemer-Mbula leads the DST/NRF/Newton Fund Trilateral Chair in Transformative Innovation, the 4th Industrial Revolution and Sustainable Development. She is currently a Professor of Economics at the College of Business and Economics at the University of Johannesburg. Erika holds an MSc in Science and Technology Policy from the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), University of Sussex, and a doctorate in Development Studies from the University of Oxford. She specialises in Science, Technology and Innovation Policy analysis and innovation systems in connection to equitable and sustainable development. She has held a number of research positions in the UK, at the Centre for Research in Innovation Management (CENTRIM) and the Science and Policy Research Unit (SPRU). In South Africa, she has been a researcher at the Institute for Economic Research on Innovation (IERI) at Tshwane University of Technology, and is associated to the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Scientometrics and Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (SciSTIP). In addition, she is in the Presidential team of Globelics, member of the scientific board of Africalics and member of the Steering Committee of the Open African Innovation Research (Open AIR) Partnership, among other networks. She is also a member of the editorial board of several international journals.
Rob Byrne
Senior Lecturer
Science Policy Research Unit
Rob Byrne is a Senior Lecturer at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), University of Sussex. He has an undergraduate background in renewable energy engineering and appropriate technology, and he worked in this field for one year in Botswana and three years in Tanzania. Since gaining his postgraduate degrees in science and technology policy studies, his research and teaching have focussed on sustainable energy access and science, technology and innovation policy in sub-Saharan Africa, especially in Kenya and Tanzania. He draws on a range of academic approaches including, amongst others, transitions theory, innovation systems, political economy and science and technology studies and has roles in the STEPS Centre (Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability), the Sussex Energy Group, Climate Strategies and the Low Carbon Energy for Development Network. He also contributes to the Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium (TIPC) Working Group and is the Sussex lead in a TIPC-related five-year programme of research on transformative innovation, the fourth industrial revolution and sustainable development, working with partners in Kenya and South Africa. TIPC provides a space in which Rob can draw together the various elements in his background and current work to help find ways for societies to become sustainable in practice, as well as feed back into more traditional academic knowledge production.
Ann Njoki Kingiri
Ann Kingiri is a senior Research Fellow at the African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS). She is a Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) policy and development researcher with a focus on inclusive and sustainable development in Africa. She heads the Science, Technology, Innovation (STI), Knowledge and Society (STIKS) programme as a director. She has experience in capacity building, research and policy analysis focusing on innovation studies and development, agriculture, renewable technologies, biotechnology, digital innovation, gender and climate change. Ann’s research and policy analysis approach involves innovation systems thinking and transformative thinking. She holds a PhD degree from UK in Development Policy and Practice discipline focusing on new biosciences policy. She is the Secretary General of The African Network for the Economics of Learning, Innovation, and Competence Building Systems (AfricaLics). This is a network of scholars working on how innovation and competence-building may be harnessed for development in Africa. Ann is also serving as a non-executive director of Kenya Climate Innovation Centre (KCIC).