South Africa’s efforts to grow the economy and create jobs through research and innovation topped the agenda at the first Innovation Bridge technology showcase and matchmaking event, which started in Pretoria this morning.
The first-of-its-kind two-day technology matchmaking event in South Africa, provides an opportunity for local and international technology-based companies, entrepreneurs and financiers to scout for technology solutions and investment opportunities.
The event is driven by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) with its partners, namely, the Technology Innovation Agency, the National Intellectual Property Management Office (NIPMO) and the Southern African Research and Innovation Management Association (SARIMA).
During the discussion, the Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, said that increasing the number of researchers and enhancing research and innovation skills and outputs could contribute positively to improving South Africa’s economy and job creation efforts.
“Knowledge is the currency of the global economy. If South Africa wants to continue to compete in the 21st century, we must support research and innovation that will generate growth and jobs, now and in the future.”
The Minister said that government was increasingly investing in research and development, which showed that South Africa was improving; but if it wanted to be globally competitive and in alignment with the best nations, it had to invest much more.
According to the 2011 South African Innovation Survey, South African enterprises had a relatively high and novel innovation rate. The report recommended that policymakers should take note of these positive trends and ensure that the policy and infrastructure environment actively supported innovation activities in the productive sectors of the economy.
For its part, the DST has supported service delivery through technology applications and incentives for businesses to spend funds on innovation projects. The Department has also provided support for the development and commercialisation of RandD outputs, as well as legislation.
However, there seem to be bottlenecks in providing infrastructural support to start-up companies, especially for the commercialisation of innovative products and in removing complexities in setting up businesses in the country.
In this context, the Innovation Bridge will serve as a key platform to close the gap between RandD and the market, contribute to economic competitiveness, and stimulate increased investment in RandD through the creation of an enabling environment for technology exploitation and entrepreneurial partnerships.
The inaugural event includes policy dialogues, plenary discussions, technology exhibitions and demonstrations with up to 75 technologies from more than 30 publicly funded RandD organisations.
One of the exhibited innovations at the event is the mobile health hearing screening solution. This product transforms a smart phone into a calibrated device for early identification of hearing loss, which according to the World Health Organisation affects 360 million people globally, and more than three million in South Africa alone.
Later tonight, at the event, Minister Pandor will address the Technology Top 100 (TT100) Awards ceremony. An initiative of Da Vinci Holdings, the TT100 programme is supported by the DST with the aim of raising awareness about the benefits of using technology to improve the competitiveness of enterprises.
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SOURCE: South African Official News