R17m for FS innovation hub

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The Free State provincial government will spend R17.9 million on a Regional Innovation Centre (RIC) in an effort to boost technology innovation in the province.

The programme was first announced in June 2009, when the provincial government revealed a partnership with the Central University of Technology and Satyam, but will only be completed by April 2010.

The aim is to create a regional hub for software development and information technology skills. The centre will be based in the town of Matjhabeng. Premier Ace Magashule announced that 46 students had already been sent to India for a year to the Satyam Information Technology Centre to acquire skills, before the opening of the centre.

“Through this centre, research, communication, knowledge management, co-operative governance and information technology will receive added attention. We need to produce innovative goods and services and the right platforms and systems to renew the economy through new technologies,” says Magashule.

Driving growth

The province says the centre forms part of its long-term initiative to create a “new wave of information technology platforms for business and implement attractive business empowerment environments”.

The centre will focus on small enterprise development and technological innovation in an effort to help diversify the economy, enhance productivity, stimulate investment and ensure that entrepreneurship flourishes, says the province.

“There is a very tight correlation between the level of entrepreneurship and the rate of economic growth. Entrepreneurs drive innovation; they are the people who get rid of inefficiencies by attacking the big incumbents and forcing them into shape. High-impact entrepreneurs who have the ambition and drive, build pioneering, fast-changing businesses,” says Magashule.

The provincial government says it will invite provincial and local governments, business or industry and other partners to begin to help plan and implement local and regional systems of innovation.

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