Release of SA Draft White Paper on Science, Technology and Innovation – 10 Sept. 2018

Science, technology and innovation enabling sustainable and inclusive development in a changing world

Also see the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa 2024 (Please share news on adoption of strategies within your countries with AOSP)

Full paper available at–on-STI-7_09.pdf 

Twenty years after the adoption of the first White Paper on Science and Technology (DST) in 1996, the SA Department of Science and Technology began developing a new draft White Paper on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI), which was approved by Cabinet last week. The new document will ensure a growing role for STI in building a more prosperous and inclusive society.  It focuses on using STI to accelerate inclusive economic growth, make the economy more competitive and improve people’s everyday lives.

The white paper says the following about Open Science and Open Innovation (pages 44-45):

“The OECD estimates that 30% of innovation in Europe is open in the sense of being shared. For example, the Philips Research Campus in Eindhoven invites industry participation with a view to facilitating collaboration between publicly funded and privately funded research. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation malaria project is also using data from a number of resources, because open innovation means that the disease can be addressed more quickly. It must be remembered, however, that open innovation does not mean “free”. Patents and intellectual property rights still apply, but only at the end of the innovation process.

The DST is actively examining the transition to open science and open innovation. This will call for appropriate regulatory frameworks and data skills development, as discussed below.

Incentives for open science will be fostered through education programmes and career development programmes for researchers. A focus on citizen science will also be introduced. Barriers to open science will be evaluated and where necessary removed, ensuring that legislation and practice support, rather than thwart, the principles of open and collaborative science. Government will therefore review these, taking into account certain aspects of intellectual property rights from publicly funded research and accepting that open science, open innovation and intellectual property, and the associated rights, are not mutually exclusive. Government will also review the policies and institutions governing access to research data and research publications.

As a general principle, publicly funded research and research data may, after a careful analysis, be made available (with some exceptions including data that can compromise sovereign security and which is of a confidential nature). Government will encourage researchers to deposit data arising from research in publicly accessible repositories, and to support open journal publishing and data sharing, providing access to data and other research outputs arising from publicly funded research. In this manner, research will be made more transparent, rigorous and efficient in stimulating innovation and promoting public engagement.

South Africa does not have formal protection for databases. Government will identify a licence system for depositing data and for the use of open data. What is in the public domain, what is not, or when it becomes available are pressing issues that need to be dealt with. Ensuring the needs and wants of the data provider are respected, and determining who can use the data, and under what conditions (research use, teaching and commercial use) are also important considerations. The Creative Commons licence is a good example for starting to draft specific licence types for different types of open data.

Contemporary open science and open innovation requires data to be findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable (FAIR) in the long-term, and these objectives are rapidly becoming expectations of funding agencies and publishers. The current Intellectual Property Rights from Publicly Funded Research and Development Act will be reconsidered to ensure that it supports the FAIR guiding principles for scientific data management and storage.

National data storage is a further matter that needs to be addressed. The DST will develop a long-term sustainable business model for a South African research data cloud. Institutional data repositories will be encouraged. More support is also needed for the harmonisation of repositories, which can take place through the Data Intensive Research Initiative of South Africa (DIRISA).

The DST, in consultation with Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services and DHET, will produce a national open science (and data) framework consisting of principles and guidelines for the adoption of open science in South Africa. The framework will be used as a vehicle for awareness raising and training on good practice.

The DST will work with the higher education sector and the relevant government departments to ensure data related skills development for making efficient use of new scientific datasets, tools and methods.

Digital technologies are making the conduct of science and innovation more collaborative, international and open to citizens. In the next decade, as connectivity becomes ubiquitous, the shift to more distributed, networked and open organisational models will become commonplace. Those unable to make the change will be left behind.23• 24 Therefore, government will prioritise funding for the provision of digital resources to the communities and institutions that need them the most.

As part of its commitment to African STI cooperation, South Africa will also work to advance the open science agenda elsewhere on the continent and within regional frameworks. The strategic role of the African Open Science Platform, hosted by the Academy of Science of South Africa, which promotes African-wide development and coordination of data policies, data training and data infrastructure, will be leveraged with the support of the DST and the National Research Foundation (NRF). In addition, South Africa is one of the founding members of the global Open Government Partnership, and took over the chair in 2015. As one of the signatories of this partnership, South Africa is committed to developing an open data policy framework and action plan.”