AMANDA-LEIGH O’CONNELL

Financing Niche Innovation for Transport Energy Transitions: The case of road transport in South Africa

Amanda-Leigh is a PhD Candidate at the University of Johannesburg, hosted under the DST/NRF/Newton Fund Trilateral Research Chair in Transformative Innovation, the 4th Industrial Revolution and Sustainable Development. Her PhD thesis aims to contribute to knowledge about financing innovation for sustainable transitions and to explore how that knowledge can be utilised in pathway analysis and transformative policymaking. Her work is based on the multi-level perspective of socio-technical transitions and the National Innovation Systems approach, and how the latter can be used to facilitate analyses of the multi-regime and multi-niche interactions characteristic of transitions.

Amanda-Leigh completed a Bachelor of Business Science at the University of Cape Town in 1999, majoring in Economics and Accounting, with Honours in Finance. After graduation, she worked in several investment banking institutions, specialising in risk management. Her experience includes working on both the banking and trading books and evaluating financing transactions across a range of industries in African markets, including energy, soft and hard commodities, property, and aviation. Later, she branched out into other sectors, including management, creative design and manufacturing, and research and consulting, before returning to academia to explore her interest in how the financial sector can be leveraged for the public good.

In 2019, Amanda-Leigh was awarded a Master of Commerce by the University of the Western Cape, graduating cum laude for her study on Corporate Social Responsibility as Risk Management. She enrolled in her PhD with the Trilateral Chair in the following year and has had several opportunities to support projects as a research assistant since. These include assignments for the South African National Energy Development Institute and UJ-Peets, the Western Cape Economic Development Project, and a policy experiment with the South African National Biodiversity Institute and TIPC Consortium.

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