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Student Research Projects

Pieter van Heyningen

Pieter van Heyningen Research Project

Pieter’s academic interest focuses on the forefront of developing and transforming economic systems toward sustainability. Innovation systems represent modern frameworks for institutional collaboration to advance and stimulate innovation to direct the economy. South Africa has been developing a national system of innovation (SANSI) for more than a decade already, with a general focus on economic growth. However, resource reserves in the country such as water, gas, coal and minerals are fast depleting and contribute to global warming. Planning for South Africa’s future requires innovation for sustainability and not only for economic growth. It is expected that countries adopting and developing clean technologies and processes at an earlier stage will become more competitive internationally. South Africa has the ability and potential to ‘leapfrog’ developed nations through a strategic national or regional focus on implementing, developing and exporting sustainable innovations and technologies.

Pieter’s specific PhD project focuses on the dynamics of innovation systems at the regional level (Western Cape, South Africa). He asks pertinent questions about the functioning of these systems and their different network interactions existing on the micro level to the macro level. Often innovation on the micro level occurs informally and therefore creating the spaces for strategic interactions are very important. Pieter, is aiding network partners in the process of developing a “Sustainability Business Network Forum” in Technopark (designed as a Science Park), Stellenbosch. This is also designed as an intervention process to stimulate innovation for sustainability and to help build real (3-helix) networks with university, industry and government involvement. This project will be beneficial to replicate innovation networks and to inform policy influencing innovation systems. It is also aimed at stimulating innovation for sustainability for the local economy of Stellenbosch and the eventually the Western Cape.

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