R&D spending was not reduced because of COVID-19 – Study

The COVID-19 pandemic had no discernible impact on overall research and development (R&D) activity in South Africa, the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) has found, writes Rebecca Campbell for Engineering News.

The HSRC has released its latest National Survey of Research and Experimental Development, conducted by its Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators (CeSTII) on behalf of the Department of Science and Innovation, covering 2020-21. Using current prices, the survey found that South Africa’s gross domestic expenditure on R&D (GERD) amounted to 0.61% during 2020-21, in comparison to the 0.62% recorded during 2019-20. In measuring the country’s GERD, the CeSTII uses guidelines issued by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, allowing international comparisons to be made.

One of the key findings of the report was that, after a large fall during 2019-20, the number of people employed in the R&D sector in South Africa increased again in 2020-21. This increase was driven by the business sector, which increased its R&D staff complement by 1,429 (apparently for R&D launched in response to the pandemic), while the government’s R&D personnel numbers stayed steady. The higher education sector actually cut its R&D staff by 666.
Full report on the Engineering News site