The Chief Director of Innovation and Technology at the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti), Ms Nonkululeko Shinga says that the reviews indicate that innovation has not been translated into socio-economic benefits and the government funding instruments are inaccessible to the innovators in rural and township communities. Shinga said this during the opening of the two-day Grassroots Innovation Workshop which took place in Limpopo.
It is as a direct response to this imbalance that we have resolved to roll-out this series of Grassroots Innovation Workshops to counter this and to address issues of knowledge production, which are limited to urban areas, in universities and in research institutions only, she said.
She asserted that innovation was not only about hi-technology implements, that it did not only occur in urban settings and that it did not only take place in state-of-the-art laboratories.
Innovation is all around and has been practiced since time immemorial. It has no colour, no gender, no age, no status. It takes place in our homes, in our garages and in the most far-flung of our rural areas. That is the reason we have brought this workshop here in your province, because we believe that knowledge production should be allowed to flourish, irrespective of where it originates from. It is important that innovation taking place in rural areas is taken seriously and that it is made sustainable. We will strive to develop systems that best respond to how we can empower grassroots innovators, said Shinga.
She added that the hosting of Grassroots Innovation Workshops was an attempt to open up and democratise innovation systems to stimulate inclusive growth and economic transformation.
The Deputy Director-General of the Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism (LEDET), Mr Matodzi Rathumbu pointed out the importance of supporting rural inventors to safeguard their inventions.
Our province is endowed with the most brilliant creative minds in the country, but our shortcomings are that we’re not doing enough to safeguard and document these inventions for sustainable economic purposes. It is imperative going forward that we support our innovators trademark and intellectually secure their innovations so they can enjoy their fruits of their brilliance, he said.
Grassroots Innovation Workshops will be rolled out to at least four rural provinces, with Limpopo already serving as a launch pad for the campaign. It is anticipated that these workshops will unearth technologies from underdeveloped communities, they will create networking platforms for technology development and commercialisation and focused technology development and innovative thinking at grassroots levels.
Source: Department of Trade and Industry