UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


Erika Kraemer-Mbula

Erika Kraemer-Mbula is a Visiting Professor at the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP).


Professor of Economics at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa. Her work focuses on alternative development paths for African economies. She specialises in the analysis of innovation systems in connection to equitable development and inclusive development, and has done pioneering work on innovation in the African informal sector. Trained as an Economist, she holds a Masters in Science and Technology Policy by the Science and Policy Research Unit (University of Sussex), and a doctorate in Development Studies from the University of Oxford. 

Besides her academic work, Erika has undertaken a range of advisory assignments with international institutions (such as IDRC, TWAS, UNIDO, UNESCO, UNICEF, among others). Her experience in this area includes the evaluation of strategic innovation-related programmes of international donor organisations, designing and reviewing regional and national STI policies, as well as supporting the implementation of innovation strategies in African countries. In South Africa, she is currently an appointed member of the Advisory Committee of the Centre for Science, Technology, and Innovation Indicators (CeSTII),  various Reference Groups at the National Advisory Council on Innovation (NACI), and a member of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Post-Covid socio-economic recovery (for the Department of Science and Innovation). She is also a member of several research networks on innovation and development – such as Vice-president of Globelics, advisory board member of Africalics and Steering Committee member of OpenAIR.

Erika is currently the Chairholder of the DST/NRF/Newton Fund Trilateral Chair in Transformative Innovation, the Fourth Industrial Revolution and Sustainable Development, based at the College of Business and Economics (University of Johannesburg) and in partnership with ACTS and SPRU. Her research unit at the University of Johannesburg is formed by a dynamic team of national and international researchers that engages in cutting-edge research; builds the capacity of younger scholars to help develop the next generation of African thinkers leading transformative change; and engages with policy makers, key stakeholders and research partners, to influence policy change.