Biotechnology Innovation Scorecard
South Africa

Biotechnology Innovation Score Summary

South Africa scored 30.1/100, which places it 35th of the 54 countries studied. South Africa scored below Lithuania and the Slovak Republic. South Africa scored ahead of Poland and Hungary.

The overall innovation score is the simple average of the Category Scores shown below, normalized to a score out of 100. For more details on the scoring, see the Methodology page.

The chart below highlights South Africa in the overall rankings. Scroll down to the Category Scores for performance details in the individual categories.

Overall Score

Overall Score

30.1 / 100

Country Rank

35 / 54

Category Scores

These individual category scores are averaged to produce the overall score shown


IP Protection

South Africa scored 7.21/10, in IP Protection which places it 22nd of the 54 countries studied. South Africa scored below Norway and the United Arab Emirates. South Africa scored ahead of Hong Kong and Estonia.

Strong intellectual property (IP) protection is central to biotechnology. In fact, it is said that the scope of IP protection defines the scope of biotechnology innovation.

IP protection is so important in biotechnology because of the years of research, and substantial financial investments are required to produce novel biotechnology products. Without protection from competition or from reverse-engineering, innovators and their financiers would have no certainty of recouping their investments.

In the absence strong intellectual property protection, it is difficult to attract the necessary funding or to convince talented scientists and business founders to take on the risks of innovative research and development.

But IP protection also goes beyond encouraging domestic development. It can also be an important factor in encouraging foreign companies to develop products for domestic needs. For example, a company may elect not to pursue a drug lead if it can only be sold in countries where development costs are unlikely to ever be recovered.

Intensity

South Africa scored 2.26/10, in Intensity which places it 11th of the 54 countries studied. South Africa scored below Russia and Sweden. South Africa scored ahead of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

The scorecard uses a combination of absolute and relative metrics. While some metrics, such as productivity, are measured in absolute terms, the Intensity category uses relative metrics to account for each country's population and economy size.

Because of the use of relative metrics, the Intensity category allows you to compare large countries to each other, and it also identifies small countries with strong biotechnology activities.

The Intensity metrics also focus on inputs. Accordingly, countries that rank highly in this category may represent ideal locations for research facilities, or to look for partners.

Enterprise Support

South Africa scored 3.95/10, in Enterprise Support which places it 38th of the 54 countries studied. South Africa scored below Saudi Arabia and Austria. South Africa scored ahead of Luxembourg and Spain.

Beyond gross measures of inputs and outputs it is also important to consider factors which impact commercial operations in a country.

The metrics in the Enterprise Support category evaluate a country’s business friendly features, and the availability of capital in various forms.

Consider that even if other metrics such R&D intensity or IP protection are strong, without Enterprise Support, it may be prohibitively difficult to start or grow a company. Alternatively, countries with low activity in biotechnology may enact policies creating a more-supportive business environment, whereas countries with strong biotechnology sectors may leverage their strength to levy taxes. In other cases, small economies wishing to avoid a 'bubble' have intentionally instituted policies directed at limiting growth.

Education and Workforce

South Africa scored 0.93/10, in Education and Workforce which places it 50th of the 54 countries studied. South Africa scored below Philippines and China. South Africa scored ahead of the United Arab Emirates and India.

A common question in response to the Scorecard is 'How can a country improve its ranking?' This section provides specific opportunities.

Biotechnology is a technical field by its nature. Even non-research activities require an appreciation (or more) of the science behind a company's products and services. In some industries an MBA or law degree may suffice for management-level positions it is not uncommon for lawyers and managers in biotechnology to have Master's or Doctorate degrees in science, making education an important measure of a country’s capacity for biotechnology innovation.

So, to answer the question of how to improve a country's ranking on the scorecard, the first place to look is often the quantity and quality of science graduates the country produces. Often in order to improve these outputs requires amending supportive polices and foundations.

Foundations

South Africa scored 2.76/10, in Foundations which places it 42nd of the 54 countries studied. South Africa scored below Kuwait and Poland. South Africa scored ahead of Chile and Turkey.

This metric considers factors such as national spending on R&D from government and commercial sources, as more spending will more likely lead to spillover effects that enable home-grown innovation.

The quality of a country's infrastructure can be also an important consideration in doing business in a given country.

For example, biotechnology R&D requires robust and stable electrical inputs. Frequent brownouts or blackouts, or poor transportation infrastructure which limits the utility of backup generators can have severe impacts on research abilities.

The efficiency of ports is also important as import of research materials, or export of perishable finished products, can be very time-sensitive.

While weak enterprise support can potentially be overcome by large foreign enterprises with sufficient capital, infrastructure weaknesses may be beyond the ability of foreign investors to resolve.

Policy and Stability

South Africa scored 3.97/10, in Policy and Stability which places it 41st of the 54 countries studied. South Africa scored below Italy and Greece. South Africa scored ahead of Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Moving beyond hard measures of research output or IP protection which provide a robust overview of how favorable an innovation environment a country may present, it is also important to consider factors in policy and overall stability. After all, weak enforcement of laws, or political stability, can trump the other measures.

Copyright © 2018 thinkBiotech LLC. Source data from Scientific American Worldview