A new index reveals that South Africa is ranked fourth when it comes to academics attracting money from businesses to carry out work in innovation and research.
Compiled by Times Higher Education, the inaugural World Academic Summit Innovation Index revealed that Korea tops the list, with companies investing the equivalent of US$97,900 in each scholar to compile research on their behalf.
Singapore ranks second with an average of $84,500 per academic, and the Netherlands is third ($72,800). South Africa lies a credible fourth with $64,400, and is ahead of traditional super powers, the UK, and the US.
South Africa is the only ranked country from the African continent.
In April, a report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) put South Africa at 55th out of 144 countries in terms of its business and innovation environment.
The US lies in 14th place, with industry contributing nearly four times less to its academic researchers (£16,628 or $25,800 per person) than in Korea.
The index is based on data from the world’s top 400 universities as assessed by the World University Rankings.
The UK is well down the list of 30 countries, in 26th place, attracting only $13,300 per researcher from industry.
Phil Baty, editor of the The World University Rankings, said: “That South Korea and Singapore are the top two countries listed in this new table, with other Asian nations like Taiwan, China and India all making the top ten, will be a shocking wake-up call for the West.”
Baty said: “Working with business and industry to move their discoveries and ideas from the ivory towers into the real world – and to make a real social and economic impact – has become one of the most important functions of a modern university.
“For some, an ability to attract funding from big business could even be a case of sink or swim in this age of austerity.”
The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2012-2013 placed the University of Cape Town in 113th place, with the University of Witwatersrand placed between 226-250; Stellenbosch University between 251-275; and the University of KwaZulu-Natal between 351-400.