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Innovation must become a culture in SA, says network co-founder

Asha Speckman

SOUTH Africa may require a chief technology officer to drive innovation from “top to bottom”, according to Donovan Neale-May, a co-founder of Sable Accelerator, which links local technology businesses to funders and experts globally.

Neale-May said yesterday that when the ANC convened for its national conference in Mangaung from Sunday on, it should include deliberations on how to create a culture of innovation in the country.

He said some of the issues that the government had to scrutinise included the environment that the state has created for entrepreneurship and factors such as the start-up time to set up a business, and incentives for entrepreneurs.

“Innovation is not sporadic. It’s a cultural ethic. It has to be cultivated,” he said.

Neale-May cited the example of the government of Singapore, which had embraced entrepreneurship as a national imperative and transformed its society to enable a culture of open-mindedness.

Neale-May, a Rhodes University graduate who is visiting from the US, said the Sable Accelerator network had partnered with the SA Innovation Network and PwC.

Next year the organisations would create a South African Innovation Index which would, among other things, review the local challenges to innovation and the creation of an enabling, open culture.

South Africa ranked 54th in the Global Innovation index.

Sable Accelerator was launched in August, but yesterday the group announced new agreements with prominent technology ventures, funding sources and innovation groups.

Agreements have been concluded with Silicon Cape, Business Unity SA, the SA Innovation Network, Technology Innovation Agency, Convergence Partners, InnovUS of Stellenbosch University, UCT, Battery Ventures and the SA Venture Capital Association, to name a few.

The network provides advisory, funding and sourcing services to companies that have a compelling business model and are of the right size for exposure to global markets.

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