This year, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is taking a brave step with their seventh Biennial Conference. At the conference, held on 11 and 12 November, they'll be discussing everything from the latest tech innovations and the fourth industrial revolution to how AI can be used to make advances in health care. Plus, there's a separate talk on the cannabis industry and what infrastructure is in place to help support this growing sector. As with many events this year, the 2020 CSIR conference will be held online with virtual talks, panel discussions and demonstrations. The conference kicks off today and, if you hurry, you'll still have time to register. Otherwise, here's everything you need to know about this year's CSIR conference...
The 2020 CSIR conference explained
What is the CSIR?
Established in 1945 by an act of parliament, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is considered South Africa's premier scientific research and development organisation. Their goal is to work with technology and research in order to improve the country's socioeconomic prosperity. The organisation is responsible for conducting cutting-edge research in the science and technology fields in the hopes of developing transformative technologies and accelerating their introduction into our society. Their work contributes to the development of SA's tech and innovation sectors and helps to build a capable and financially-stable state.
What will the CSIR Conference be like this year?
The theme this year is 'Touching lives through innovation'. You can expect informed talks from local and international experts on everything from mining and manufacturing, to improving SA's defence systems and advancing agriculture. It is believed that science and technology has an important role to play in all of these industries if we're going to adapt to new challenges and keep up with developments in the future.
Because the event is held online, everything will operate digitally. The programme includes a range of online talks, interviews, virtual tours and webinars and you're encouraged to listen in and participate where possible. The virtual conference is free to attend, but registration is compulsory. Once you've registered, you can join any session.
What's on the agenda?
The conference programme has been designed around nine topics, namely chemicals, health, advanced agriculture and food, manufacturing, mining, defence and security, smart mobility, smart places and next-generation enterprises and institutions. Renowned speakers include Professor Dr Gert-Jan Gruter Chief Technology Officer at the Dutch chemical technology innovation company, Avantium. Another international speaker at the event is Professor Patrick Soon-Shiong MD from NantWorks. He's a South African-American transplant surgeon and bioscientist. Locally, you'll hear from chief economist at FNB, Mamello Matikinca as well as the resident representative for the United Nations Development Programme in SA, Dr Ayodele Odusola.
In terms of topics under discussion, there's a wide variety at this year's CSIR conference. Professor Soon-Shiong is expected to discuss the future of health care, taking into consideration the COVID-19 pandemic and the ways that information technology and AI is transforming the industry. It's set to be a fascinating talk.
Other topics focus on industry trends such as the industrialisation of cannabis and how we can look to grow and support this industry. With two talks on the topic, speakers will explore the production and development of medicinal cannabis as well as the use of hemp and hemp products in SA. It's expected that panel members will offer solutions as to how the cannabis and hemp industries can help support socioeconomic development in SA.
And you couldn't have a conference about scientific and technological research without looking at the fourth industrial revolution and how this movement can help grow small businesses and foster SA’s economic recovery. This includes developing innovation strategies to address challenges from business growth to our local food security issues. There's no doubt that in order to flourish in the new post-COVID-19 world, we need to embrace technological innovations and work together to harness the power of tech and software development. Download the CSIR conference programme here.