Council for Scientific and Industrial Research

Not to be confused with Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), India; or the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the forerunner to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia.
Council for Scientific and Industrial Research
Abbreviation CSIR
Formation 1945[1]
Type Research and development organisation
Region served
South Africa
President and CEO
Sibusiso Sibisi[2]

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is South Africa's central and premier scientific research and development organisation. It was established by an act of parliament in 1945 and is situated on its own campus in the city of Pretoria.[3] It is the largest research and development (R&D) organisation in Africa and accounts for about 10% of the entire African R&D budget. It has a staff of approximately 3,000 technical and scientific researchers, often working in multi-disciplinary teams.

CSIR contract research and development


The CSIR contract R&D portfolio aims to enable clear understanding of national imperatives and the needs of industry to optimise the impact of the CSIR's R&D outputs. It leverages public, private and international partnerships in support of cutting-edge science, engineering and technology (SET).The organisation has clients in both the private sector (micro, small, medium and large enterprises; formal and informal), as well as in the public sector (national, provincial and local government). The organisation also deals with public enterprises and institutions, national safety and security establishments, and development structures. Regionally and abroad, the CSIR fosters partnerships and a network of clients and partner organisations as part of a global sphere of influence on matters of technology. The CSIR liaises closely with tertiary education institutions. With a strong emphasis on relevant and developmental work, it also has strong roots in various communities, and collaborates with a wide range of donors and funding agencies.The CSIR aims to contribute to the national programme of development, perform relevant knowledge generating research and transferring technology and skilled human capital, and strengthen the science and technology base. The Frascati Manual defines R&D as creative work undertaken systematically to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of humanity, culture and society, and the use of this knowledge to devise new applications. At the CSIR, the research, development and innovation (RDI) chain encompasses, what we term, types A, B and C research:

The CSIR operates with two kinds of R&D income, each with its own purpose. The Parliamentary Grant is used for strengthening the CSIR’s S&T base - knowledge, people and infrastructure. Secondly, Contract R&D income is derived from performing contract research for clients in the public and private sectors, locally and abroad, on specific programmes, initiatives and projects. All R&D work contributes to the National System of Innovation (NSI).

Research areas

The CSIR's main areas of research are:[4]

• Built Environment

• Biosciences

• Defence, Peace, Safety and Security

• Information and Communications

• Laser Technology

• Materials Science and Manufacturing

• Natural Resources and the Environment

• Mining Innovation

• Modelling and Digital Science

• Mobile Intelligence Autonomous Systems

• Nanotechnology

• Synthetic Biology

• Remote Sensing


In 1999 a strategic alliance was formed between the University of Pretoria and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.[5] This alliance, which is known as the Southern Education and Research Alliance (SERA), collaborates locally and internationally with universities, NGO’s, companies and multinational bodies in various research areas.[6]



In July 2016 the amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism published an article that alleges that South Africa's Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor and Director-General Phil Mjwara were attempting to put undue pressure the CSIR, at the behest of ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize, to favour the Chinese multinational Huawei Technologies in the purchase of a new R116-million (equivalent to around US$8 million) super computer for the institute. This followed the publication of the Council's long time CEO, Sibusiso Sibisi's, open letter of resignation stating that irregularities and political pressure on the awarding of contracts to suppliers was of great concern.[7]


  1. Profile of the CSIR 6 October 2011.
  2. CSIR - Executive. 6 October 2011.
  3. Profile of the CSIR. Retrieved 6 October 2011.
  4. CSIR contract research & development partnerships. Retrieved 6 October 2011.
  5. Highlights and Achievements. Retrieved 10 September 2009.
  6. SERA Relationships and Links. Retrieved 1 October 2009.
  7. amaBhungane (1 July 2016). "amaBhungane: CSIR's supercomputer tender and the theatre of the absurd that followed it". Daily Maverick. Retrieved 3 July 2016.
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