Innovation key component to economic recovery

Innovation and the digital economy must be at the forefront of driving economic recovery in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, says Trade, Industry and Competition Deputy Minister, Nomalungelo Gina.

“Innovation and digitisation will be necessary conditions for building this economy and will help build various small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) of the new economy.

“It is not an exaggeration that the symbiosis of innovation and digital economy is now a pervasive juggernaut that is globally tearing down any inhibitive firewalls.

“It offers no space for naysayers, whose intent is to swim against its tide. We all have to adapt and strive to be the best in it, if we are to survive and prosper. Old economic methods are dying a natural death and the digital economy, whose bedrock is innovation, is taking over,” said Gina at the Inventors Garage session on Thursday.

The session was part of the South African Innovation Summit, which is an annual flagship event aimed at nurturing, developing and showcasing African innovation, as well as facilitating innovation thought-leadership.

The summit, which concludes today, is held in partnership with the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic) and the South African Innovation Summit (SAIS).

KIPPing innovation alive at the grassroots level

Yesterday’s session also saw the launch of the Grassroots Innovators Programme, known as the Khoebo Innovation Promotion Programme (KIPP). KIPP will have two sub-schemes.

The first sub-scheme is the Small Medium Enterprise Growth Scheme, which is looking at enterprises already in existence and are looking to upscale and penetrate new markets.

The second sub-scheme is the Grassroots Innovation Funding Scheme (GIFS), where the focus will be on grassroots innovators that are at the start-up phase or trading on a small scale.

The dtic has partnered with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) on KIPP. The implementation of the programme throughout the country will happen in line with the rural and township economic revitalisation focus of the government. The main aim is to give support to grassroots innovators.

“This summit must answer the question: where is South Africa amongst the countries that have embraced the 4th Industrial Revolution as its norm and the advent of innovation? Where are we, within the continent, as a country? What is it that needs to be changed and what support mechanisms are required so that we can gallop to the frontline and be part of this new economic phenomenon?’’ Gina said.

Gina said it was encouraging that on the digital side, South Africa has the 4th Industrial Revolution Commission, whose work centres on giving the country a competitive edge in the digital era.

Gina said the outcomes of the 2020 Innovation Summit must find resonance and add-value to the Presidential 4th Industrial Revolution Commission. –

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