In 2017, the Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators (CeSTII) introduced a new research theme to complement its core work: new indicator development for measuring innovation. This new research theme required experimentation with and participation in, less traditional, often more inclusive, research methodologies, as well as the forging of a new network of researchers within the HSRC, and amongst researchers in other science councils, universities and research organisations. The collaboration between CeSTII at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and the Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation (SLF) was a step in this direction. The work centred on CeSTII’s research theme of new indicators for measuring innovation. CeSTII currently have three projects under this theme, namely:
- Community engagement, innovation and inclusive development
- Exploratory survey to measure innovation in the informal sector
- Designing a research agenda on Innovation for Inclusive Development (IID) to inform strategy and measurement.
There was scope for CeSTII and SLF to collaborate in experimenting with new methodologies in investigating innovation processes in impoverished urban and peri-urban areas. SLF has considerable expertise in conducting research on economic activities and human development in impoverished urban areas in Southern Africa, with over five years of experience in researching livelihood opportunities and socio-economic development in townships such as Philippi East in Cape Town, a key research site for this work.
Capacity building, collaboration and training workshops on research methods
Between August and September 2018 SLF facilitated two workshops with the HSRC. The first was an introduction to various research methodologies, including SLF’s Small Area Census approach used for conducting research on economic activities in informal settings. We also introduced the HSRC team to a number of other important visual, more participatory methods, such as Digital Storytelling (DST), Collective / Collaborative Film Making and Photovoice. In the second workshop SLF facilitated a digital story telling process with informal actors / microenterprise owners in the Philippi East Township. The workshop had a dual purpose and was designed to inform CeSTII’s research and also served as practical training opportunities for HSRC researchers. The DST process produced seven new high calibre digital stories, which speak to the theme of community engagement, innovation and the need for inclusive development in a township setting. HSRC researchers were also able to collect a wealth of additional qualitative and visual data during the same period.