Enterprise development in science and technology crucial in enhancing innovation

The first high-tech science and technology exhibition to be held in Africa opened at the Sandton International Convention Centre in Johannesburg today. The South Africa-China exhibition featured innovative products and services in science and technology produced by the two countries.

The countries have been cooperating in science and technology since 1999. The exhibition is aimed at creating a platform for South African and Chinese science councils, academic institutions and industry players to exchange information on new technological trends and foster collaborative linkages.

The three-day event also includes discussions on research and development topics such as: Economic beneficiation of herbal/plant bio-resources and their growth potential for the pharmaceutical and medical industries; Challenges and opportunities of renewable energy in the developing world and Advanced Manufacturing.

South Africa is looking to strengthen the country’s position as a preferred partner for the Chinese industry players to undertake collaboration in local research and development, attract foreign direct investment in science programmes, and promote special projects such as the Square Kilometre Array and create opportunities for human capital development.

A broad spectrum of scientific and innovative programmes and products from South African and Chinese companies, are on display covering the life sciences, robotics, advanced manufacturing and new energy. The products and services on display reflects the impact research is having on producing innovation that benefits society.

Speaking at the opening event, the Director-General of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Dr Phil Mjwara, welcomed the Chinese delegation to South Africa, saying the occasion would allow for networking and establishing partnerships in research and investment.

Science today is far removed from the stereotype perception of the mystery and danger and is increasingly about the establishment of new business models and processes. And those who understand and embrace this approach often succeed before others in bringing new ideas, products and services to society, said Dr Mjwara.

The Director-General said the co-hosting of the event would deepen and intensify the partnership between the two countries. The DG added that South Africa had a lot to learn from China, particularly in field of enterprise development, as the country has done well into translating research into high value products.

The Chinese Vice Minister for Science and Technology HOU Jianguo said the exhibition had a huge potential to further economic growth and improve livelihoods in both countries and in Africa. He said that enterprise development was important to innovation.

He told delegates at the opening, that China was always willing to work with South Africa’s young scientists and research institutions, calling this a powerful strategy through which both countries could implement their development objectives.

He said deepening the cooperation in human capital development was critical to growing the next generation of scientists.

Mr Jianguo said China was looking forward to having more young people from South Africa visiting science institutions in China. In this regard, China would train hundreds of young scientists from South Africa over the next five years.

He called on the scientists and exhibitors at the event to take advantage of the next three days, to seek new opportunities and develop ideas through which they could cooperate with each other.

Source: Department: Science and Technology (DST)