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Prof Sara Grobbelaar

Inaugural lecture:

18 April 2024 @ 17:3019:00

Creating our shared future: Innovation for inclusive development

In her inaugural lecture, Prof Sara Grobbelaar focuses on the transformative models of innovation that are aimed at fostering inclusive development (I4ID). These models recognise the multifaceted nature of inclusion, viewing socioeconomically marginalised groups (for purposes of Prof Grobbelaar’s work, generally the poor) as beneficiaries and active contributors to innovation by being co-creators, business partners and knowledge producers. The lecture delves into how ‘inclusion’ in innovation encompasses the entire lifecycle of knowledge production, including problem identification, the innovation process itself, the adoption of innovations, and the economic benefits derived therefrom.

Prof Grobbelaar explains how the systems perspective enhances our understanding of I4ID models, arguing that such an approach offers an enriched analytical ‘toolbox’ and a robust guide for crafting effective policy instruments. She explains how, along with her collaborators, she uses multidisciplinary and analytical methods to explore the dynamics of I4ID, proposing a variety of frameworks for its analysis. These include process tracing, maturity analysis and survey tools, all designed to shed light on the mechanisms driving I4ID and to identify strategies to overcome barriers.

The practical application of these models is wide-ranging, spanning a number of sectors. We explore their potential for improving access to essential services such as healthcare, education and food. Furthermore, we envision their impact in sectors such as additive manufacturing, rail, automotive components and health technologies. This comprehensive approach not only broadens our understanding of I4ID, but also paves the way for a more inclusive and equitable future, influencing various aspects of our society.


Short biography

Sara Grobbelaar is a professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering at Stellenbosch University (SU) and a research associate at the University’s Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology (CREST). She is registered as a professional engineer with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA).

Her academic journey includes an MPhil in Technology Policy from the University of Cambridge, and degrees in Electronic Engineering (BEng) and Computer Engineering (MEng) from the University of Pretoria, where she also obtained her PhD in Engineering Management. In addition, Prof Grobbelaar holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Monitoring and Evaluation Methods from SU.

She teaches Technology Management, preparing students to navigate and lead in the complex interplay between technology and business. Her research focuses on innovation systems and innovation for inclusive development with a view to creating strategies to foster inclusive growth across Africa. Prof Grobbelaar is deeply interested in systems analysis, systems thinking, strategy, and the management and innovation of technology.



18 April 2024

Organizer (event)

Amira Brown


Reitz Hall, Engineering Faculty
156 Banghoek Road, Stellenbosch Central
Stellenbosch, Western Cape 7605 South Africa
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