Entrepreneurs as growth-drivers

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Key findings about SA's entrepreneurial landscape will be revealed at the 2015 SA Innovation Summit in Cape Town, from 26-29 August.

The Summit will see the official debut of the Emerging Companies Insights Publication, a collaborative effort between PwC, Microsoft BizSpark, the Silicon Cape Initiative, City of Tshwane and Wesgro.

A recent survey of over 700 emerging tech-enabled SA companies forms the basis of the publication. Companies surveyed range from early-stage start-ups to businesses bringing in approximately R100 million a year. Investors' and stakeholders' views were also considered.

The publication focuses on a number of themes, most prominently the role entrepreneurs can play in driving sustainable economic growth in SA.

It also confronts negative statistics and sentiments about the SA economy, for example the perception that SA's entrepreneurial landscape lags behind those of other developing countries, informed by statistics such as the rate of established businesses, rate of business failures, and the amount of support for SMEs in the broader business environment.

The study also reflects on transformation issues, such as the minimal involvement of women in SA tech companies.

The Innovation Summit aims to bring together entrepreneurs, innovators, designers and tech enthusiasts with incubation managers, angel investors, venture capitalists, product developers, and CEOs.

The summit will offer lessons, workshops and panel discussions about "hot topics" such as intellectual property, private sector partnerships, innovation incentives, and social innovation.

A CEO panel will feature Peter Alkema, CIO for FNB Business, Alexandra Fraser, co-vice-chairperson and head of stakeholder relations at the Silicon Cape Initiative, and Barlow Manilal, CEO at the Technology Innovation Agency, who will discuss businesses' role in the innovation ecosystem, and strategies for collaborating and scaling innovation.

From the public sector, Mayor of Cape Town Patricia de Lille will discuss creating an enabling environment for innovators and Nontombi Marule, the Department of Trade and Industry's director of Innovation and Technology, will speak about national strategy for technological commercialisation.

"Entrepreneurship is all about transforming ideas into economic opportunities and requires holistic support from all ecosystem stakeholders to thrive," says Maija de Rijk-Uys, who is responsible for the PwC Accelerator in SA. "Innovation is both a disruptive force and a key driver of growth and scalability. Businesses can benefit by supporting entrepreneurs who have unique ways of doing business."

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