SciTech dept relaunches successful rural innovation incubator

Nkosana Madi with his motorised hybrid bicycle.
Nkosana Madi with his motorised hybrid bicycle.

Johannesburg - The Department of Science and Technology (DST) has reinstated its Grassroots Innovation programme which hopes to unearth the country’s next biggest inventors. 

The programme which is run in collaboration with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Technology Localisation Implementation Unit (TLIU) was relaunch after a successful run in 2017 and recent funding boost from government toward innovation. 

The programme which seeks to offer rural innovators a platform to scale their inventions and incubate them, through government assistance, into formal businesses, is also being relaunched amid President Cyril Ramaphosa’s commitment to the growth of small business. 

During his State of the Nation Address debate last month, Ramaphosa said that government was working to create a conducive environment for investment in efficient networks that enable the reduction of costs, enhance competition and remove barriers to entry by small businesses.

During the medium term budget in October the department saw a R24.8bn investment for producing new knowledge, developing human capital, as well as research and innovation.

A fund of R1bn was allocated in 2019/20, to provide wholesale funding to private and public sector incubators for entrepreneurs at a concept stage.

In his speech former Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba said this fund would see involvement from Treasury, the science and technology department and the department of small business.

In 2017, Fin24 profile three of the programmes innovators who had seen funding from government. 

Sandiswa Qayi from the Eastern Cape created the geyser energy reduction sleeve with other innovators incubated by the programme including Nkosana Madi from Springs in Gauteng, who developed a hybrid motorised bicycle, and Phumlani Ntloko from Pretoria, who created a Computer Numeric Machine used to test motherboard prototypes and 3D printing at a fraction of the cost.

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