Over 100 South African innovations, some of them set to revolutionise their fields, will be showcased at the Innovation Bridge Technology Showcase and Matchmaking Event this week.
The event, presented by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) in partnership with the Technology Innovation Agency and the National Intellectual Property Management Office, offers a rare opportunity for local innovation projects to be presented to potential investors and commercialisation partners.
The Deputy Director-General: Technology Innovation at the DST, Mmboneni Muofhe, says the event is an exciting showcase of the high level of innovation South Africans are capable of. The innovations on display will include new 3D printing solutions, fuel cell technology, future aviation technology and food security solutions. "There will be many innovations that will make people sit up and take notice, illustrating the fact that as South Africans, we need to celebrate our capacity for innovation more," he says.
Following the success of the first Innovation Bridge in 2015, this year's Innovation Bridge will once again seek to match innovators with investors and business partners. It will also serve as the launch pad for a new Innovation Portal, which will aim to facilitate connections between innovators and commercialisation partners.
According to Muofhe, South Africa has an interesting and diverse science, technology and innovation landscape, but we need to do more to facilitate ongoing innovation across a variety of fields. "Innovation is crucial for driving economic growth, and it must be remembered that with innovation you never 'arrive', you have to constantly strive to overtake and lead," he says.
However, there are numerous challenges facing innovators in South Africa. "One issue is that we need much more funding, with more investment from the private sector. We also face a human capacity challenge – we need a critical mass of skills," says Muofhe. In addition, he believes that government departments need to better coordinate their efforts to create an environment conducive to innovation, and that the number of science institutions in the country needs to grow.
"South Africans also need to be more appreciative of locally developed technologies. One way to do this is to enhance communications, so that stakeholders are made aware of the innovations developed in South Africa", he says.
Innovation Bridge and the new Innovation Portal will help to address some of these challenges by enhancing communications within the science, technology and innovation ecosystem, and assisting innovators to secure funding.
Innovation Bridge 2017 will take place at Gallagher Convention Centre on 15 September 2017. For more information, please go to http://www.innovationbridge.org.za