Pieter van Heyningen

Pieter van Heyningen

Pieter obtained his Bachelors degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Stellenbosch University. Thereafter, he completed an honours degree in Philosophy, and began studying an MPhil at the Sustainability Institute also part of Stellenbosch University. He left for Taiwan to study Chinese, and Tai Chi and teach English, where he spent almost three years. After travelling through South East Asia, Pieter furthered his academic career in Sweden, completing his Master degree/ MBA with focus on Ecological Economics. During his time in Sweden, he also worked for GreenPeace, and started his own company through the local university ‘idea-lab’ incubation programme. From this experience Pieter had a keen interest in innovation and commercialization.

He returned to the Sustainability Institute and started his PhD in ‘Innovation Systems and Sustainability Transitions’ at the School of Public Leadership. During this time, Pieter taught several undergraduate courses in business development, globalization and sustainable development. He had the privilege of spending a year of his time in Austria, where he was doing research and taught a master module on ‘sustainable product and service development’.His transdisciplinary research project, focused on transforming technopark, which amounted to a visioning and stakeholder exercise to reconceptualise the park’s commercial focus and image. This project grew, and soon incorporated the whole town of Stellenbosch, to become the Stellenbosch Innovation District – funded by the Dept. of Science and Technology. This project, aimed at focusing the town’s considerable resources to support innovation activities from research to commercialization is on-going under new leadership.

Pieter joined the Bertha team and UCT faculty to explore the world of social and inclusive innovation that the developing world so requires. At the same time, Pieter is also project manager of South African chapter, of the global UNEP ‘eco-innovation’ project. This project aims to transform the business model of companies towards sustainability, and is a pilot project for policy development. In addition, Pieter has presented several papers on innovation and sustainability at over eight international conferences. He was also co-chair of the 19th International Sustainable Development Research Society Conference, as well as chair of the 1st and 2nd Stellenbosch Innovation Conference. He has also published several book chapters, including, ‘innovation for sustainable business’ as part of the ‘Greening the South African Economy Handbook’ about to be published.

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