Prof Stanley Mukhola and Imraan Patel, DDG: Socio-Economic Innovation Partnerships sharing a lighter moment during the launch of the programme.
The launch aimed at marketing the programme and reaching out to possible grassroots innovators to register their innovations on the GIP platform, as well as mobilising the private sector and relevant government departments towards the joint implementation and support of the programme.
The event was a culmination of a process spearheaded by the Minister of Science and Technology, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, starting with a call for the first cohort of local innovators in January 2019. About 300 applicants from all nine provinces in South Africa submitted proposals. Most of the proposals received were in the Information and Communication Technologies sector, demonstrating the extent to which grassroots innovators intend to develop smart innovations that ensure inclusivity of marginalised communities in preparation for Industry 4.0.
At the opening, Professor Stanley Mukhola, DVC: Teaching, Learning and Technology said the GIP programme will be jointly implemented by the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) and DST to help boost inclusive socio-economic development in South Africa through research and innovation.
“I am proud of this strategic national initiative and the fact that our University is hosting this launch. We are looking forward to our students benefitting greatly. While we are teaching people to be better employees, we should also invest in teaching them the mind-set, coupled with the skills, to be innovators and entrepreneurs. Developing the ability to recognize opportunities and giving young people the tools to capitalize on those opportunities empowers them to take ownership of their future in ways which directly link education to real-world success,” he said.
Prof Mukhola also thanked the DST for funding three of TUT’s Technology Stations i.e. Technology Station in Electronics, Technology Station in Chemicals and Institute for Advanced Tooling.
Imraan Patel, DDG: Socio-Economic Innovation Partnerships who represented the Minister, touched on the country’s unemployment crisis. “South Africa’s unemployment rate is one of the highest in the world. It is consistently measured above 20%. This is a national crisis that feeds two of the country’s other big socio-economic challenges: poverty and inequality. I believe this initiative will bring new and exciting opportunities to local innovators that will support their employability initiatives,” he said.