Technology Innovation Agency to open in July

The Department of Science and Technology (DST) hopes to open its Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) by July, ITWeb reports.
DST spokesman Nhlanhla Nyide says the department has received nominations for the TIA board of directors and CEO, and is looking for a building to house the agency.

The TIA will be established under the Technology Innovation Agency Bill, which was signed by President Kgalema Motlanthe in November. The legislation forms part of the DST’s 10-year innovation plan to promote innovation through the funding, support and commercialisation.

The TIA is a public funding agency created to ensure local research and development translates into commercial products and services, also in the defence industry.

The new agency’s main objectives are to stimulate the development of technology-based products, services and enterprises; develop a technology base for the South African economy; facilitate the development of human capital for innovation; and provide the primary bridge between the formal knowledge base and the real economy.

Realistic expectations?

Allowing only six months to establish a state agency is setting unrealistic time frames, says Raven Naidoo, chairman of ICT company Radian. He says things take time and there is only one way the DST can achieve its goal.
“The quickest way for the DST to achieve its expectations of opening in July is if it takes over an agency such as the Innovation Hub, its staff and creates something like a shell company,” he notes.

The DST previously stated it would capitalise on existing government structures such as the Innovation Fund and biotechnology centres in the creation of the new agency. When the DST was asked whether it would look at taking over the Innovation Hub, it declined to comment.

Naidoo notes that setting up a state agency is no easy task, saying: “Look at what happened with Meraka [Meraka Institute for Science and Technology]. That took a long time to set up and eventually the department had to incorporate it into the Council for Science and Research for it to finally get established.”

He adds there are key issues that need to be taken into consideration before a state agency can be established, and it is highly unlikely these will be addressed by July.