Not paying on time hurts businesses
DURBAN-BASED innovation businesses have suffered a blow as they failed to meet market expectations despite the city’s rich history of worldclass innovations.
Progress in Science, Technology and Arts (Pista) founder and chief executive Nkululeko Mthembu said that these businesses were at a “juncture where they are either in the concept phase or caught rendering non-core services with the initial offering being dented and not succeeding in the market as intended”. He attributed their failure and regress to customers not paying on time for services rendered and lack of access to resources.
Mthembu said that capacitating people in townships and peri-urban areas might unlock new opportunities in these localities as there currently was a blistering digital divide where there was no equitable access to programmes and service items.
“Information democratisation like skills development, the ability for people to understand their meaning and place in the innovation ecosystem is paramount. This achieved through rapid fibre, 4G technologies, containerised maker labs will unlock new value chains.
“Deploying ‘innovation touch points’ in these environments presents great value for the future.”
Pista, which initially operated under the Durban Innovation Hub (TDIH) name, was started out of a need to connect with Durban entrepreneurs and technology enthusiasts with similar burgeoning technology-innovation communities in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
For sustainability, the then-tdih had to close its doors and use an agile model of different venues to run its programmes.
Mthembu said in the meantime they operated as a consultancy. He said this exposed them to greater collaboration from different industries in unlocking Afro-centric innovations that solve real problems.
Mthembu said they foresaw greater partnerships with industry to create safe environments for research and development, unlocking incentives for more R&D spending with Pista as a pipeline.
South Africa’s 2013 expenditure on research and development sat at 0.73 percent of its gross domestic product.
The institution said it also foresaw a multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary approach in which unrelated disciplines would collaborate to drive innovation.
“Imagine a room with a musician and data scientist solving a medical technology problem in Kwazulu-natal’s peri-urban clinics, or an informal trader, banker and nurse asked to solve service delivery matters. This is magical, more so, innovative,” he said.
Innovation agencies such as Innovate Durban NPC (a dual initiative by local government, academia and business) has been making strides to promote innovation in the region through programmes which include the Youth Innovation Challenge, Yakha Sakhe, Qhakaza Girls, High Schools Challenge and the Innovator’s Support Programme. given.ma[email protected]
DURBAN’S Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre will host seven major conferences this year, drawing 23 000 delegates to Kwazulu-natal.
ICC chief executive Lindiwe Rakharebe said the meetings, incentives, conferences and events industry was an important component of tourism and vital to the country’s economic development as it affected a wide variety of sectors.
“For every individual attending a conference or exhibition at the Durban ICC, as an exhibitor, delegate or visitor, there are positive economic spin-offs for local businesses,” said Rakharebe.
She said the ICC was a trail-blazer in attracting local and international events and had a mandate to be a catalyst for economic development and job creation in the city and for the province.
Rakharebe said that despite an increasingly competitive marketplace, they had contributed R4.7 billion to gross domestic product and 9 474 jobs were created as a result of their activities in the 2017/18 financial year.
The complex incorporates the Durban International Convention Centre, the Durban ICC Arena and the Durban Exhibition Centre, offering more than 11 200m2 of flexible event space, which makes it the largest flat-floor, column-free multi-purpose event space in Africa.
The number of events held at the Durban ICC in the 2017/18 financial year were 456, with 1 387 595 delegate and visitor days generated by the centre in that financial year. “This is an increase of 2.5 percent from the previous year in which 1 353 410 delegate and visitor days were generated by the ICC. The hosting of more exhibitions, trade shows, trade fares and increased average size of events are the main reasons for this increase.”
The chief executive said that they had an approved business plan that focused on key strategic objectives of the business, which included business development and cost containment intended to ensure sustainability and profitability.
The ICC said that hosting major events or conferences required extensive planning, from the sales stage when a booking enquiry was made to the event co-ordination stage until the event went live.
“Durban’s ICC has a highly experienced and diverse team having hosted both the largest (2016 International Aids Conference) and second-largest (2011 Cop17) conferences ever held on the continent.”