Short on ideas
ON A MACRO LEVEL, innovation is both a key driver in a country’s economic growth and a distinguishing characteristic of competitive economies. It should therefore be essential that countries looking to grow their economies – like South Africa – should have sound innovation programmes in place. Yet research shows that SA is becoming less innovative with each passing year. The annual global entrepreneurship monitor (GEM) recently released by the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business shows that SA is becoming less innovative than other emerging economies, while research by media analysis company, Media Tenor, indicates that innovation is becoming less important for CEs of JSE-listed companies. To halt SA’s declining innovation standards, a private-sector initiative led by CIDA city campus has led to the launch of InnovationTOWN, which resulted from a fiveyear awards programme called “ the innovation and sustainability awards”, regarded as SA’s leading innovation awards programme.
“The innovation awards programme has evolved into InnovationTOWN, a campaign that will champion innovation in this country as part of a 2010 initiative to recreate SA as an innovative country,” says co-founder Mandy de Waal.
Elements of the campaign include the iHERO award that discovers, rewards and finances innovators. It’s an education initiative that seeks to match innovators with investors; an innovation fair that showcases award-winning innovators; a photo and narrative exhibition on innovation; and a national advertising and publicity initiative aimed at putting innovation back on the local agenda. Sponsors of the InnovationTOWN programme include, among others, Shujaa Holdings – a philanthropic organisation – the Branson School of Entrepreneurship; the South African Post Office (SAPO); African Bank; the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre in Newtown, and the sustainable economic environmental development (SEED) frameworks.