Speech by Gauteng MEC for Economic Development, Environment,
Agriculture and Rural Development LEBOGANG MAILE on the occasion of the GAP Innovation Competitions Ceremony, 15 November 2018 at The Innovation Hub
Programme Director, Ms. Melanie Bala
Members of TIHMC Board
Mitchell Brian, Emory University’s Goizueta Business School in Atlanta, Georgia
Technology Innovation Agency
CEO’s of various organisations in the innovation ecosystem
Members of the media
In this year’s State of the Nation Address, President Cyril Ramaphosa pronounced 2018 as a watershed year – a defining moment in our history, a year of hope and renewal where measures will be introduced to set the country on a new path of growth, employment and greater inclusivity. “Our task as South Africans,” he declared, “is to seize this moment of hope and renewal and to work together to ensure that we make a meaningful difference to the lives of our people.”
Part of the critical work that we have been tasked with in order to take our economy on a different growth trajectory, is to encourage, stimulate and promote innovation and entrepreneurship amongst our people. Innovation is after all an important ingredient in improving the competitiveness of an economy. The Innovation Hub plays an important role in stimulating and promoting innovation within Gauteng City Region.
We want to thank and appreciate everyone at The Innovation Hub for the work that has been put in so as to stage this prestigious event for the past 7 years to recognise, reward and celebrate top innovators in the ICT, Biosciences, Green and Medical technologies sectors and the Gauteng Accelerator Township innovation competition. These competitions seek innovators, researchers and entrepreneurs that are working on novel ideas that will improve efficiencies, increase the competitiveness of the local economy and create new value within our economy.
When it comes to confronting contemporary challenges as well as building the desired future, it is imperative that we embrace and promote innovation. Gauteng Accelerator Programme (GAP) is the Innovation Hub’s annual flagship competition which seeks to recognise and reward inventors, researchers, SMME’s and entrepreneurs. GAP Innovation Competitions forms part of the Gauteng government’s interventions in order to make Gauteng an innovative and economically competitive province as well as a leader in developing sustainable technologies.
The competitions contribute to the growth of The Innovation Hub’s incubation programmes by serving as a pipeline for potential incubatees at The Innovation Hub’s Maxum Business Incubator, Climate nnovation Centre South Africa, BioPark@Gauteng, eKasiLab and mLab.
Distinguished Guests, growing the economy implies innovating continuously so that new goods and services can be introduced into the market, creating new economic value. It means government playing its role in creating an enabling ecosystem to foster innovation and entrepreneurship; it means embracing and promoting creativity and innovation in different stratas of society.
With these competitions we have managed to make significant strides in inculcating a culture of innovation in our city region and since 2011, the five categories of GAP have attracted more than 2200 entries and enabled us to invest over R13 million in seed funding and incubation support to over 76 startups. This is highly encouraging; although we believe that much more can and still needs to be done.
We need to increase our investment into R&D and increase the number of science and engineering graduates from our educational institutions. The only way to build our innovative capacity is through partnerships between the public sector, private sector, and academic institutions as well as international partners. Critical to embracing innovation within society is supporting and celebrating entrepreneurship.
the calibre of entries into the competitions demonstrates that there is capacity and capability within Gauteng. It is our desire that these innovations that we are acknowledging and celebrating tonight become commercialised and find their way into the mainstream Gauteng economy. With the unemployment rate so high, we need these innovations to stimulate growth and create jobs.
We would like to thank the Technology Innovation Agency and Emory University, particularly for their support to innovators and entrepreneurs in the Bio?economy sector. We also want to take this opportunity to thank mLab Southern Africa for their support in GAP Green and ICT competitions.
The winners in the ICT, Green, Biosciences, Medical, GATE Innovation Competition categories selected here tonight will receive cash prizes, milestone?tied seed funding and further support at The Innovation Hub.
We wish to congratulate all the winners of the Gauteng Accelerator Programme Innovation Competitions and GATE Innovation Competition and to wish you all of the very best in your endeavours going forward, which we are hopeful will contribute positively and meaningfully to the economy of our city region.