The DST is expected to invest in producing new knowledge, developing human capital, as well as research and innovation.
A fund of R1bn will be allocated in 2019/20, to provide wholesale funding to private and public sector incubators for entrepreneurs at a concept stage.
Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba said this fund would see involvement from Treasury, the DST and the Department of Small Business.
“Together with Ministers [Lindiwe] Zulu and [Naledi] Pandor, we are setting up a fund for small business enterprise development that focuses specifically on start-ups. The Government Technical Advisory Centre is assisting us to operationalise the fund,” Gigaba said during his mini budget speech.
The DST currently sees numerous incubator programmes to commercialise innovative ideas, such as the Grassroots Innovation Programme by the department’s Technology Localisation Implementation Unit (TLIU).
The programme seeks to unearth rural innovators and incubate their inventions into formal businesses.
South Africa currently has numerous research facilities that could benefit from the funding, including The Innovation Hub (TIH) in Pretoria, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and other research and development centres at SA’s major universities.
On Wednesday, Treasury announced that, in the first half of 2017/18, only R23.6m in international funding – against a target of R420m for the year – was directly invested in research, science, technology and innovation human capital development programmes and research infrastructure.
The slow performance has been said to be because of delays in receiving information from international partner organisations.
The department, however, expects to receive the outstanding information in the second half of the year, and as a result, expects to meet the target.