Programme Director, the Honourable Toshiro OZAWA, Ambassador of Japan;
Dr Ben Ngubane, Chairperson of Technology Top 100 (TT100);
Professor Roy Marcus of the Da Vinci Institute of Technology and Chairperson of the TT100 adjudication process;
Professor Ihron Rensburg, Vice Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg;
Mr Seth Phalatse, Chairperson of Da Vinci Holdings;
Dr Jim Dukowitz and Mr Dan Hanson of the Technology Innovation Group USA;
Dr Phil Mjwara, Director-General of the Department of Science and Technology;
Adjudicators of the TT100 awards programme;
Qualifiers and category winners;
I’m delighted to be here this evening with you.
South Africa’s ‘new growth path’ plan aims to create 5 million jobs by 2020 and bring about an inclusive, labour-absorbing and efficient economy.
The plan proposes to achieve this through a mix of direct government job creation, national consensus building and macro-economic labour and industrial policies.
Part of the plan is to develop a competitive, labour-absorbing, fast-growing, and knowledge-intensive green economy that produces millions of decent jobs while reducing poverty and inequality.
The plan also proposes to support new productive activities, especially in light manufacturing, the mining and agricultural supply chains and in a range of knowledge-intensive and skill-intensive activities (for example, in biotechnology) and in green technology (notably solar power).
The Industrial Development Corporation is one key state body that is providing funds to give effect to the new growth path.
There is over R100 billion available over the next five years, a quarter of which is for investment in building a green economy through a dedicated Green Economy fund.
This is integrated government – linking infrastructure, industrialisation and development strategies to benefit our people.
A good example is the IDC project to co-fund a solar water-heater project for low-income housing.
Another example of integration is the funding on offer to small businesses.
Recently revised government procurement regulations mandate localisation in designated sectors. This is a significant new instrument to promote jobs and industrialisation.
An important component of the new growth path is the DST’s innovation policy with its specific emphasis on the promotion of new knowledge and green technologies.
South Africa’s innovation policy focuses on increased investment in research, human capital development, and the reinforcement of industry-science linkages.
The DST’s specific contribution can be seen in the recent establishment of the Technology Innovation Agency, the National Intellectual Property Management Office, and a number of new centres of competence.
The agency, the office, and the centres are intended to support the identification and protection of South African originated intellectual property, and to establish crucial partnerships that will increase opportunities for commercialise local R&D.
The new Taxation Laws Amendment Bill makes provision for a simplified and streamlined implementation of the Research and Development Tax Incentive scheme.
This should enable many more technology start ups to access early-stage research funding.
As you all know, innovation and technology commercialisation is not a simple matter.
To make the best of our resources it’s important that we foster strong and sustainable partnerships between government, universities and industry.
This is precisely why the TT100 Awards programme is so valuable. It helps identify – and I quote from the awards programme – “South African role models, who through innovation, tenacity and a passionate belief in people, have been able to take their organisations to a new level of competitiveness”.
It is these role models that inspire the next generation of innovators and technology developers.
The TT100 awards are an important catalyst in developing a culture of entrepreneurship.
The DST and the TT100 awards programme are working together to ensure that there is greater synergy between the awards programme and the NSI at large.
I want to say a few words about some of these initiatives.
In recognition of the fact that youth employment is an important factor in building stable societies and in promoting and sustaining economic growth, we have developed a Technology Top 100 internship programme.
We proposed the internship programme and the response from the TT 100 companies has been overwhelming.
Furthermore, in partnership with the Da Vinci Institute, we have developed a PhD programme that is focussed on inculcating an understanding of commercialisation for a group of our managers.
This business-driven action learning programme has exposed our senior managers to the business world.
The need for more dialogue between the DST and the TT100 Awards programme is clear from the response received to the Technology Top 100 questionnaire.
There is clearly a challenge in as much as so many of the respondents were completely unaware of some of the support that the Department can offer your organisations.
In this context, consultation between my Department and the Da Vinci Institute is also ongoing in regard to a number of other initiatives.
These initiatives will provide for formalised and regular engagements between government and industry as well as assisting with expanding innovation and the rate of technology commercialisation.
One of our greatest challenges is to expand the number of black-owned technology companies.
This can be seen not only in the response to the Technology Top 100 programme but also in other programmes such as the First National Bank Entrepreneur programme.
I am currently looking at ways in which we can be more effective in stimulating the growth of technology companies, with the support of the Technology Top 100 team in partnership with the University of Johannesburg and the Technology Innovation Group from the USA.
Tonight is the culmination of a year-long search for the best of South African technology organisations.
This year the TT100 has harvested another crop of outstanding South African companies.
It’s encouraging to note the number of new entrants and also very encouraging to note how many of the previous applicants have come back to have their organisations adjudicated.
Submitting to nomination and adjudication is in itself a great opportunity for any company. It’s impossible to qualify without going through a rigorous process of introspection and self-examination.
The entrants who won’t receive awards tonight should not be discouraged.
They represent hope for the future and their involvement with TT100 will surely accelerate their potential.
Let me conclude by congratulating the TT100 team for all their hard work in bringing the awards to a conclusion.
And I would like to thank you, the TT100 entrants, for your support and I would like to wish you continued success in your endeavours. We are proud of your achievements. Thank you for sharing your experiences. Have a wonderful evening.
Department of Science and Technology
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