Building on the momentum and the conversations established during SFSA2015 and SFSA2016, the Department of Science and Technology is proud to support the Science Forum South Africa 2017 (SFSA2017). The event will take place from 7-8 December 2017 at the CSIR International Convention Centre, Pretoria, the same venue as the two previous events.

SFSA2017 will again provide the opportunity for all interested parties to Ignite Conversations about Science. The 2017 event will continue to focus on Science, Technology, and Innovation on the African Continent and will expand Pan-African scientific participation. SFSA2017 will emphasise Innovation for Inclusive Development.

Strategic Objectives of SFSA

The strategic objectives of SFSA are:

  1. to stimulate a vibrant debate on the role of science, technology and innovation in society;
  2. to promote international science, technology and innovation partnerships; and
  3. to create a network platform for key science, technology and innovation actors, including senior government leaders, academics, scientists, industry, civil society, and students.

To achieve these objectives SFSA2017 will focus on:

  1. a provocative and stimulating programme including several parallel sessions and talks, with the primary aim to ignite conversations about science;
  2. a rich diversity of participants, comprising scientists, students, public and private sector representatives as well as civil society members;
  3. strong international participation, especially from Africa.
Science talk format

Please remember SFSA, as an open science forum, is not a conventional scientific event (conference, convention, symposium). A SFSA science talk is not an academic lecture, or an opportunity to present an academic paper.

The purpose of all science talks should be to ignite conversations about science with a multi-stakeholder audience. The audience will be diverse and will not necessarily have expert technical knowledge of your topic.

All science talks will run concurrently with other sessions and/or science talks, and participants are free to move between sessions and talks.

Each science talk will last 30 minutes. Although the intention is for one speaker to host the talk, up to three speakers may participate.

Different formats are welcome. You are encouraged to develop your own innovative and creative format. The 30-minute limit, and the emphasis on interaction with the audience should guide your final proposal.

Also consider the use of the SFSA App and social media (e.g. Twitter) to enhance audience interaction prior to and during the science talk.

Please note that the SFSA2017 Programme Committee reserves the right to modify talk formats before final acceptance on the programme.


Please read the following guidelines for science talk proposals.

The purpose of all science talks: To Ignite Conversations about Science.

Deadline for submission of science talk proposals: 28 April 2017.

All submitted proposals will be reviewed and assessed by the SFSA2017 Programme Committee. Please note that the Programme Committee reserves the right to request modifications to proposals prior to final acceptance on the programme.

The following criteria will guide the SFSA2017 Programme Committee during the selection process:


  • A science talk is not an academic lecture, nor a presentation of an academic paper, but an opportunity to ignite conversations about science.
  • Relevance to the strategic objectives and focus and themes.
  • Quality and originality of proposal to ensure relevance to current debate.
  • Igniting vibrant discussions.
  • An interdisciplinary approach.
  • National, continental, and international topicality.
  • Potential to attract media interest.


  • An interactive talk (remember the purpose is to ignite conversations about science).
  • Limit the length of the talk to ensure enough time for conversations to ignite.
  • Use the SFSA App and social media (e.g. Twitter) to enhance audience interaction.
  • Innovative formats will be welcomed.
Organisational aspects

Science talk proposers are responsible for the organisation of their talks, including the speaker(s).

Science talk proposers are encouraged to do talk-specific marketing. SFSA cannot guarantee an audience for a talk. The open forum nature of SFSA events attracts many participants, but they are encouraged to attend the talks of their choice.

An exciting topic, attractively presented (and marketed), with plenty of time for discussions has been proven to attract large audiences.

A full range of conference facilities will be available.

PLEASE NOTE: SFSA does not have supporting funds available to facilitate forum or session attendance. The involvement of speakers (and participants) must therefore be completely self-financed; including travel, accommodation and any organisational expenses. However, no registration fees, will be charged.

Selection process

The call for science talk proposals for SFSA2017 opens on 17 March 2017.
The call for science talk proposals for SFSA2017 closes on 28 April 2017.
Proposals will be evaluated by the SFSA2017 Programme Committee.
The Programme Committee may request revisions to some proposals.
The proposal allocation will be announced on 2 June 2017.

Proposal submission
Focus and themes for SFSA2017

SFSA2017 will emphasise Pan-African Science, Technology and Innovation, as well as Innovation for Inclusive Development. The following themes will provide the framework for session allocation:

Shaping humanity – the focus in this theme will be on how social sciences shape our human experiences and behaviours to improve the quality of life for all human beings, and the world we live in, including a better understanding of what is required to uplift people in a sustainable manner.

Preparing people for the knowledge economy – the focus in this theme will be on the attitudes, education, experience, and abilities required individually and collectively to succeed in the knowledge economy, with a specific focus on achieving gender and racial balance in an optimal functioning system of innovation.

Open science and open innovation for Africa’s development– the focus in this theme will be on what the impact will be on Africa’s development if there was a concerted drive to intensify collaboration among all stakeholders in the scientific and innovation enterprise, including through the enhanced dissemination and sharing of research results to maximise impact.

Science transforming society – the focus in this theme will be on how science, technology and innovation is changing society, how is it contributing to the improvement of the quality of life of all citizens and how we ensure ethical considerations are addressed and science-driven development is equitable and sustainable.

A better world – the focus in this theme will be on the sustainable solutions science, technology and innovation can provide to global challenges like poverty, inequality, inclusive development and a secure society, with an emphasis on the value of enhanced international collaboration in addressing these shared global challenges.

Innovation shaping the industry of tomorrow – the focus in this theme will be on how the exponential pace of progress in science, technology and innovation is disrupting every industry in every country and how the so-called “fourth industrial revolution” will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another.