Govt on the hunt for rural innovators

2016-11-22 11:46 - Kyle Venktess, Fin24
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Johannesburg - The Department of Science and Technology is on the hunt for South Africa’s next innovators and say that they have already unearthed talent for developing technology solutions for the country’s woes. 

The Grassroots Innovation Programme by the department’s Technology Localisation Implementation Unit (TLIU) and the CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) are looking for the next scientist or engineers who will then be incubated in to programmes to develop their innovation into a business. 

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TLIU’s Manager Ashley Bhugwandin said that thus far the project has supported numerous initiatives.

“Because of the country’s large rural population, we are looking to these areas to commercial support initiatives,” he told Fin24.

Bhugwandin said that the initiative supported projects which included an innovator who constructed a bicycle that was powered by a motor that could switch over to manual mode when it has run out power.

Another project was the construction of a Computer Numeric Control (CNC) machine that can develop motherboards for computers. The project was built in a garage in Tshwane, which has reduced the cost of this type of machine from around R1m to between R80 000 and R120 000. 

Another invention in KwaZulu-Natal included a dual-purpose motor which was able to charge a vehicle battery in hours.

Bhugwandin said that the Grassroots Innovation Programme was inspired by a similar project in India which saw success in previous years.

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He added that the assisted individuals will also be provided with skills development programmes in order to understand their subject better.

He also said that entrepreneurship development skills will provide them with the knowledge to commercially market their inventions.

“South Africa and the rest of the continent has no shortage of amazing talent; and it was high time we saw more African game-changers not only adding value to our continent but to the world," he added.

“So often great innovation is created out of necessity – our objective is to turn this innovation into a tangible business – so that instead of merely solving a problem. There is an economic benefit; jobs are created and communities are transformed from the inside,” he said.

The first step to becoming a Grassroots Innovator is to register on their database on website:

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