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Invitation to collaborate: Policy Innovation Lab at the School for Data Science and Computational Thinking
Author: Corporate Communication & Marketing / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie & Bemarking
Published: 12/03/2024

Through a partnership with the Presidency, the German government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the South African Policy Innovation Lab was recently established at Stellenbosch University's (SU) School for Data Science and Computational Thinking.

The Policy Innovation Lab explores ways in which the deployment of data science and artificial intelligence tools and approaches can improve policymaking in South Africa to ultimately accelerate South Africa's achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), explains Prof Willem Fourie, project lead of the initiative.

“Our entry point to the SDGs is SDG 17*, particularly its focus on the importance of policy coherence and policy coordination. This is why its current projects focus on improving coordination and efficiency in South Africa's policymaking and reducing duplication and policy conflict through the application of data science and AI tools and approaches."

Many of the Policy Innovation Lab's projects are conducted in cooperation with the Policy and Research Services branch in the Presidency, its government partner. Other projects are run through its membership of the ARUA-Guild Cluster of Research Excellence on the Politics of Sustainable Development.

The Policy Innovation Lab also hosts two projects with a strong social impact focus. Firstly, the Lab is the custodian of the South African network of the Gates Foundation's Goalkeepers initiative – a project aimed at amplifying stories in SDG impact from across South Africa.

Secondly, the Policy Innovation Lab supports the drafting of South Africa's second SDG report, also called a Voluntary National Review. This report will be presented at the United Nations in July 2024.

*SDG 17 reads as follows: “Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development."