I work in support of leaders in industry, the academia and the development field to enable better diagnosis, decision making and collaboration. Sometimes I work as an expert, other times as a facilitator. I work in South Africa, but also work in many other countries. My main focus is on improving innovation systems and making industries more competitive through increased innovation and collaboration.
My work includes a wide range of stimulating activities, ranging from conducting and leading fieldwork that will improve the competitiveness of a local economy, to facilitating strategic workshops, facilitating brainstorming sessions with different stakeholders, coaching of development practitioners, and conducting training. I am often asked to facilitate workshops where participants want to explore a topic or reflect on their strategy. From time-to-time I am also asked to organise and moderate larger events with more than 50 participants. The trick is to moderate events in a participatory way that is not like a usual conference or seminar-like setting.
In Southern Africa I work with industry associations, Universities and development organizations to stimulate industrialization, innovation and application of science. This theme combines many different methods, such as value chain promotion, cluster management, private sector development, supply chain development with concepts such as complexity, social network analysis and systems thinking. Very often opportunities identified or recurring challenges are turned into research projects involving private and public sector actors, research organizations and international experts.
I typically work with teams or individuals responsible for developing a particular segment or subsystem in an economy, such as the aluminum or electronics design sub sectors. My job is three fold, I assist the organizations that I work with the better understand these systems, and I assist these organizations and the systems that they form part of to explore new opportunities and to exploit existing competencies. My third role is to make policy recommendations at various levels to try and shape the system around these sectors to be more supportive of innovation, growth and competition.
Some of the industrial projects that I worked on in the last two years include:
- Supporting the the aluminum sector with a particular focus on the automotive sector
- Ongoing support to the valve manufacturing sector
- Ongoing support to the electronics sector, with a particular focus on electronics design
- The foundry sector, with a particular focus on up front engineering, prototyping
- The additive manufacturing sector, with a particular focus on machine building, mould making and problem solving in industry
Many of the above mentioned are related, either in customers or in the networks I am working with. The network image above shows one of the clusters I am working with. The blue blocks represent metal foundries, the red blocks are valve manafacturers that buy cast components from foundries, and the magenta blocks are end markets. I use these maps (created with Social Network Analysis tools) to identify entry points, spillovers and leverage points that can be used to identify systemic interventions.
Furthermore, I am supporting several large buyers to develop local supply chains including:
- A manufacturer of heavy earth moving equipment in the mining and construction sector
- A manufacturer of train components
- A manufacturer of advanced heavy engineering projects
- A manufacturer of transport subsystems
Then, to bring all of this together, I am also working with several universities to respond better to the industrialization needs around them. Here I take a strong innovation systems perspective.
Below is a complexity map of the South African economy, using the Atlas for Economic Complexity. I have inserted blocks into the image showing the industries where I am working on. The denser part of the image shows basic technology, while the extremes shows more advanced products where South Africa have an competitive advantage. The block on the left shows my focus in electronics and electricial engineering, the middle block shows metal castings, tooling and machine building (metal industries), while the right shows food technology. It is interesting that there is increasingly an overlap between my work in the electronics sector and my work in the metals sector, especially in machine building.