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Transforming Emerging Ideas Into Economic Opportunities In The Agricultural Sector
 

[19 March 2020]

Johannesburg, 20 February 2020 – The Innovation Hub’s Dr Chamunorwa Togo was honoured to present at the recent Africa Agri Tech Conference and Exhibition, which took place from 18 to 20 February 2020 at the Sun Arena at Time Square, Menlyn Maine in Pretoria.

The conference proceedings on 19 February focussed on how to harness technology in the agricultural sector, Dr Togo – General Manager for the Bio-economy division – was well placed to discuss the catalytic role of government plays in enabling innovation within agricultural technology area. His presentation on the Catalytic Role of Government in Technology Innovation Value Chain highlighted the enabling role government plays in lowering the barriers to markets for new technologies through The Innovation Hub’s business incubation programmes and reducing the cost of innovation amongst the established companies through the open innovation programme (Openix) at TIH. He also indicated that capabilities of hybridising existing solutions within the indigenous knowledge holders and technologically savvy players can unlock phenomenal solutions to the day to day challenges.

“There is an opportunity to develop local solutions by capitalising on the experience of our traditional farmers, but they need help to elevate their small agricultural solutions to the global standards necessary to be commercially viable,” said Dr Togo. “However, this takes substantial expertise as well as funding. This is where The Innovation Hub’s business incubation becomes crucial. The ideas are out there, but they need help from more established entities and government to fine-tune the financial and technological aspects.”

The Innovation Hub is a government agency which partners with other players in government, as well as in the private sector, to provide mentorship and business development support. Through three divisions addressing the Green Economy, Bio-economy and Smart Industries, The Innovation Hub is well-equipped to provide incubation support to various elements of the agricultural industry.

Added to this, in recognition of the expensive and time-intensive nature of research and development (R&D), the agency has created the Open Innovation Exchange Programme (OpenIX). “Through this platform we are streamlining the innovation process by linking solution seekers with solutions providers. Commercialisation is expensive and many companies are hesitant to make the investment. Solution providers selected through the OpenIX Programme receive assistance in rising to the challenge listed by the solution seeker. In this way, The Innovation Hub is a calatyst for knowledge interactions that transform emerging ideas into economic opportunities,” said Dr Togo.

“Technology is disrupting the agricultural value chain in many ways. Just look at how access to information has changed the way supply chains work – data on stockpiles and demand means that logistics have become streamlined. There are many opportunities for innovation in the agriculture industry, and government can be of great assistance in this.”

Dr Togo’s point was exemplified by the four companies showcased at the exhibition who are proudly incubated at The Innovation Hub Business Incubation Programmes. These companies illustrate the opportunities for home-grown solutions in the agricultural industry. XY Analytics showcased their artificial intelligence based “connected cow” solution. This solution tracks physical movement and provides status on the cow’s health and reproductive system. Also, in attendance was Gronut, which mechanically presses peanuts to produce oil and oil cake which they use to make instant cereal, cooking oil and biodiesel. They are currently supplying 63 schools in the North West province. Lefakong Farming, producers of tea, capsules, salt and gin using Moringa dried leaves were also on the show floor, along with KURAI who showcased their fully autonomous crop spraying drones which address lack of infrastructural access to crops.

About Africa Agri-tech

This three-day multi-tiered expo and conference investigated the impact of the latest advances in science and technology, empowering agricultural producers to achieve greater efficiency, productivity and profitability going into the future.

Offering unparalleled discovery, exploration and networking, Africa Agri Tech focused on assisting producers to navigate the evolving agricultural ecosystem. A fully integrated expo floor showcased future trends, technologies and techniques available.

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About GGDA
The Gauteng Growth and Development Agency (GGDA), is an agency of the Gauteng Department of Economic Development (GDED).GGDA is the implementing arm of the GDED and assists the department in leading, facilitating and managing sustainable job creation and inclusive economic growth and development in the Gauteng City Region.

About The Innovation Hub
The Innovation Hub, a subsidiary of the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency (GGDA) is the innovation agency of the Gauteng province and is responsible for managing Africa’s first internationally accredited Science and Technology Park of the same name, and is a full member of the International Association of Science Parks (IASP). Strategically located in Tshwane, South Africa's executive capital in the ‘smart’ province of Gauteng, The Innovation Hub implements initiatives identified in the Gauteng Innovation Strategy and Green Economy strategy to advance the economic development and growth of the Province through innovation. The Innovation Hub has created unique spaces, in Tshwane and the rest of the Gauteng province, for high-tech entrepreneurs, world-class businesses, academics, researchers and venture capitalists to meet, network and prosper. For more information visit www.theinnovationhub.com