Merryl Ford

Manager: Emerging Opportunities, CSIR

Merryl Ford is the Manager of Emerging Opportunities at the Next Generation Enterprises and Institutions Cluster of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in South Africa. Merryl has always been passionate about the power of technology to change the world and was responsible for the initiation of one of the first ISPs in South Africa in the nineties. Her particular passion is the application of innovative ICTs towards socio-economic development in South Africa. Over the past few years, she has led various multi-disciplinary ICT interventions, particularly in the education and skills-development environments. She has published widely on these issues and presented at many conferences and forums around the world. Merryl is one of a select group of women in South Africa who has a successful technology patent to her name – a video-on-demand service for low bandwidth conditions, created in 2001. Merryl’s current focus is in the use of emerging technologies such as distributed ledger technologies (e.g. blockchain), big data, AI and the Internet of Things, combined with promising new business models in stimulating and supporting technology innovation. After writing a White Paper for the CSIR on blockchain and it’s potential, she was asked by the South African Department of Science and Innovation to develop a national blockchain strategy for the country, focusing on research, development and innovation. Her proposal to take an ecosystem approach to create the South African National Blockchain Alliance (SANBA), was endorsed and SANBA was launched in April 2020. She is currently working on a Blockchain strategy for the African Union.