Business Innovation Survey

A CeSTII flagship project

The South African Business Innovation Survey (BIS) is a flagship survey performed by CeSTII for the DSI.

Since 2005, CeSTII has conducted four rounds of the BIS, covering the periods 2002-2004, 2005-2007, 2010-2012, and 2014-2016 (to include farming, forestry and fisheries (2016-2018).

In February 2022, CeSTII announced the start of fieldwork for the 2019 - 2021 round.

BIS surveys performed by CeSTII follow the methodology set out in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Oslo Manual.

However the measurement of innovation through these surveys has tried, where possible, to taken into count the distinctive context of South Africa—being in Africa, the global south, and characterised as a middle income country, with both highly and weakly developed economic structures, and pressing socio-economic challenges.

Interviews and press coverage about SA innovation surveys (2017-)

Dr Glenda Kruss in conversation with Michael Avery (@Classic1027SA) about the results of the Business Innovation Survey, 2014 - 2016 | 2020

Dr Glenda Kruss in conversation with Ayabonga Cawe (@PowerFM987) Business Innovation Survey | 2017

HSRC out to measure innovation levels in thousands of SA entitiesEngineering News | 2017

Fostering innovation will put South Africa on a higher growth trajectoryEngineering News | 2017

Service industries in the crosshairs as SA launches innovation surveyResearch Professional | 2017


Twitter: @BizInnovationSA

Survey reports

Effective policy and decision making requires high quality evidence. The Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), as a partner within the national statistics system, is mandated to oversee the collection of statistics on science, technology and innovation.

Innovation performance in South African commercial agriculture, forestry and fisheries businesses, 2016-2018: Results of a baseline survey with key national and sectoral trends

Innovation performance in South African businesses, 2014-2016: Activities, Outcomes, Enablers, Constraints

Innovation in the South African Manufacturing Sector, 2010-2012

Innovation in Selected South African Services Sectors, 2010-2012

Highlights of the Business Innovation Survey, 2005-2007

Full report of the Business Innovation Survey, 2005-2007

Main results of the South African Innovation Survey 2002-2004

Early efforts

South Africa's innovation surveys stretch back to the early 1990s.

The first innovation survey covering the manufacturing sector and examining the period 1992-1994 was performed by the University of Cape Town in collaboration with the Foundation for Research Development (the predecessor to the National Research Foundation of South Africa).

The second survey (1998-2000) covered manufacturing and services, and was performed by the University of Pretoria and Eindhoven University.

Innovation survey review 2016/17

A number of challenges were faced in the performance of the 2010-2012 BIS. An immediate problem was the low response rate, but this highlighted key conceptual and methodological issues, such as whether the survey is measuring what it should, or whether the methodology is appropriate for the South African context.

Building from these results, and working closely with the DST, in 2016 CeSTII embarked on a comprehensive review of the BIS. Its goals? To reflect on the innovation theory and methodology underpinning the BIS in the context of the review of the third edition of the Oslo Manual, which is currently underway; and to propose amendments to the survey instrument and sample frame in line with current developments across the South African economy. 

The review process was necessarily in-depth and incorporated three components: first, an internal critical self-assessment; second, an external review by a specialist consultant, incorporating an international comparative perspective; and third, the oversight of a BIS Review Steering Committee consisting of BIS stakeholders such as the National Advisory Council on Innovation (NACI), Statistics South Africa, the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), and the DST.

To learn more about the review, contact Dr Glenda Kruss, gkruss[at]