Research and innovation to boost job creation

February 5th, 2015, Published in Articles: EngineerIT

"Knowledge is the currency of the global economy" - Minister Naledi Pandor

“Knowledge is the currency of the global economy” – Minister Naledi Pandor

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 held in Pretoria earlier this week.

The provided opportunities for local and international technology-based companies, entrepreneurs and financiers to scout for technology solutions and investment opportunities.

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.

She said that although government was increasingly investing in research and development, if we want 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 R&D 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 R&D and the market, contribute to economic competitiveness, and stimulate increased investment in R&D through the creation of an enabling environment for technology exploitation and entrepreneurial partnerships.

The inaugural event included policy dialogues, plenary discussions, technology exhibitions and demonstrations with up to 75 technologies from more than 30 publicly funded R&D organisations.

In discussion with the media the minister admitted that the process of filing patents was costly and slow but that she was working her colleague  in cabinet to look at changing legislation simplify the process.

On the other hand, Prof. Roy Marcus , CEO of  daVinci  Holdings said that entrepreneurs  should not blindly stare at patents; often by the time a patent is registered  the technology has moved on. He said that innovators should work on getting their innovations to manufacturing and  market quickly.

The event is driven by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) partnered with the Technology Innovation Agency, the National Intellectual Property Management Office (NIPMO) and the Southern African Research and Innovation Management Association (SARIMA).

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