The Research Institute of Innovation and Sustainability South Africa (RIIS) in partnership with the Botswana Institute for Technology Research and Innovation (BITR) recently launched the Regional Open Innovation Platform Project in Johannesburg, South Africa. This 18 month project is supported by the SAIS 2 Innovation Fund under the thematic area of Window 1: Developing Institutional Capacity for Regional Innovation Cooperation (Stronger Ecosystems) and will be implemented in Botswana and South Africa. The project involves the creation and usage of a digital open innovation platform that actively sources solutions (products, services or processes) from innovative individuals, start-ups, ideas and companies to solve current and pressing problems in health, education, agriculture and tourism. Through four open innovation opportunity programmes, each addressing an identified need in the respective sector, the public will be invited to submit a potential solution to address these identified needs and applicants will be provided with an access point to enter a competitive market, and potentially gain access to interested investors.
At the opening of the launch which was attended by various stakeholders, RIIS Executive Clen Cook, stated that “This whole programme is meant to foster collaboration, to enable innovation across borders." Alana Kruger, Project Manager at RIIS followed with an introductory presentation of the project and partners, offering an overview of how it will be implemented. Individuals, teams or corporations selected will undergo a 3 month incubation programme at BITRI, and receive valuable innovation training by RIIS, in order to create their own sustainable business. The digital platform created for this project will act as a tool for RIIS and BITRI to build databases of relevant contacts and interested parties, and provide marketing communication to the public to raise innovation awareness. This platform will result in the acceleration of the innovation process between, and within public and private sectors; and increases the footprint and impact of identified solutions that solve for pressing issues, thus enabling SADC countries to achieve their sustainable development goals. It is also aimed at developing the entrepreneurial and innovation capacity in regions, empowers societies to solve social and technological issues; and provides the public with an easy access to market. Alana took the audience through the importance of open innovation, stating that "It gives people with great and innovative ideas the tools and the platform into market.”
Collaborators and partners in the project include the Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology of Botswana, SME TradeLinks, Southern Africa Startup Awards, Impact Amplifier, South African Innovation Summit, PolkaDot Digital, BongoHive, Brynston Creations and Unicorn Africa. Read more about the project here
Ambrose Makgonatsothle, from Brynston Creations, Alana Kruger, RIIS Project Manager and Clen Cook, RIIS Senior Expert at the Regional Open Innovation Platform project launch.