Bridging the innovation development gap
11 April 2017
It is clear that innovation gaps have been and still are a reality for long, but there is no quick response to them. Participants in this session during the AfriAlliance Launch Conference had experiences and good contributions on how Africa and the world can address such innovation gaps. How do we create enabling environment for water innovation and increase support for RDI? What partnerships could be unlocked and how do we build a sustainable business logic in the water sector?
The session consisted of a panel discussion with the following contributors: Dr M Amis (African Centre for Green Economy, ACGE), Dr B Sehlapelo (Technology Innovation Agency, TIA), Dr V Naidoo (Water Research Commission, WRC), Mr J Sirunda (Namibia Water Corporation, NAMWATER) and Ms C Wynberg (Fetola, private sector). The following conclusions were drawn:
- Financial gap: identify and make available funding opportunities to assist SMMEs. Perhaps looking at establishing a “water fund” with the end results of market pull and also help the small municipalities to access funding. The fund should also provide support for capacity building within municipalities.
- There is a missing R&D institutional link (public or public-private), therefore there is a need to establish an institution that will demonstrate series of the new technologies and showing the value over time. This institution could also scan the environment for existing technologies that could be demonstrated (upfront scanning and sorting). The institution could also identify demonstration sites because it is not only about funding.
- Need to build capacity at municipal level.
- Establish winning partnerships: public-private and involving higher level management.
- Need to quantify the need before going too much into the research and investing a lot.
- Importance of partnership to reduce the funding risk and have multiple views from different stakeholders.
- There is a need to establish stakeholder platforms to exchange information, innovation and learn from each other.
- Need to look at developing systems maps which has worked in other countries.
- Try out organisational crowd sourcing and matching this with innovations.