03 Feb Minister of communications and digital technologies’ visit to the innovation hub met with success
Tshwane, 03 February 2020. In recognition of the need for partnership in addressing South Africa’s challenges regarding economic development, job creation and innovation, The Innovation Hub recently had the honour of hosting the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, Ms Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams. The visit, which took place on 24 January in the presence of key role players from The Innovation Hub (TIH), was arranged to showcase TIH’s capabilities in business incubation and technological development focused on skills development, in order to determine areas of common interest and collaboration between the Department and The Innovation Hub.
Advocate Pieter Holl, The Innovation Hub CEO and Mr Tsietsi Maleho, General Manager for Partnerships, provided the Minister with insights into the various enterprise and skills development initiatives which help local entrepreneurs address social, technological and environmental challenges through sustainable business development. One such offering is the The Innovation Hub’s eKasiLabs initiative, which offers business development support, advice, infrastructure and networking and funding opportunities to start-ups in various townships. “It is vital for us to not just focus on the start-ups on our precinct here in Tshwane, but to leverage our resources to the wider community to ensure that they don’t get left behind in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). There are many business opportunities out there, and we want to empower people with an entrepreneurial mindset to develop in a way that is sustainable and far-reaching,” said Mr Tsietsi Maleho.
Aside from this focus on the township economy, The Innovation Hub also has programmes helping companies in the key sectors of smart industries (including ICT and advanced manufacturing), Bio-economy and the Green economy. The myriad ways in which The Innovation Hub contributes to South Africa’s economic development while taking into account the country’s urgent need for skills and technological development was not lost on Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams. Her address to the The Innovation Hub team was inspiring and encouraging.
“To really address our country’s challenges, we don’t just need entrepreneurs, we need innovators. Everything you have said to me this morning – your emphasis on solution-driven work and helping entrepreneurs with an evidence-based approach to the challenges we are faced with – this is just what we need,” said the Minister. “As government, and through our work with SITA, we need to stop producing resellers of other people’s technology and products. We need to give more South Africans the opportunities to develop the capabilities and products we need here, and I see this is exactly what you as The Innovation Hub are doing.”
Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams spoke about the state of innovation that is currently lacking in the country, stating that new solutions should be embraced. “We need to look at the wider innovative solutions being presented to us, and not reject what we do not know. We do not know everything, and looking at locally-developed solutions to local challenges is the way forward. We are entirely too dependent on foreign technology.” Recognising that good ideas need time and space to grow, the Minister highlighted the importance of strong incubation and business development programmes.
“We have the solutions you need, Minister,” said MEC for Economic Development, Agriculture and Environment, Ms Morakane Mosupyoe. “When you learn more about the depth of our plans, you will realise we need to get married,” she jokes. “Proposal accepted”, laughed the Minister.
The visit concluded with a tour of various tenants of The Innovation Hub, which provided the Minister with a first-hand view of the solutions being developed and the services offered to start-ups. Entrepreneurs had the opportunity to pitch to the Minister, who had sound advice to offer.
The Innovation Hub- “#We guide today so that you can build tomorrow”.