Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology Dr Blade Nzimande speaks at Science Forum SA. Picture: Rapula Moatshe

Pretoria - The Science Forum South Africa has over the years been used as a platform to interrogate the role of science in the development of countries, said minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology Dr Blade Nzimande.

He was addressing more than 3000 delegates at the CSIR, where the fifth forum was hosted in collaboration with the Innovation Bridge - a technology matchmaking and showcasing event.  

Nzimande said: "We have come here to hopefully ignite conversations and engage about science and important issues of science."

He also made a plea that "open science must be open to all and not be about sharing data we have collected."

He said part of pursuing science was to do away with all sorts of discrimination, adding that the role of young people and women in science should receive attention during the summit.

Under the theme "Igniting conversations about science for innovation with impact", the event drew close to 300 speakers and panelists from more than 40 countries.

They will deliberate on the role of science and innovation in societies until Friday. 

Nzimande said science and innovation should play a role in society to improve the quality of life. 

"Innovation is not only for big industries, it is also for small and medium enterprises," he said.

His remark was made following a panel discussion on how can local innovation drive economic development and attract foreign direct investment and how to get the balancing act right.

Speakers emphasised the importance of forging partnerships with government and securing foreign direct investments into their innovation projects.

Dr Thulani Dlamini, CEO of the CSIR, said for South Africa to achieve a sustainable economic growth it would require to have  strategic  investments into science and innovation.

He said the work done by his entity contributed to the national development and economic growth of the country.

Zanele Mbatha, also executive chairperson of the Bambili Group, said entrepreneurs were still faced with challenges when they wanted to commercialise ideas and bring their businesses into the marketplace. 

She said: "The biggest challenge that entrepreneurs face as they try to commercialise ideas and bring their businesses into the market place is ensuring that the partnership between the entity and government support is congruent and is a dynamic process." 

She said government ought to make sure that public policies were market-oriented, making sure that government support to entrepreneurs have intended effects.

Talking about the importance of partnership, Mbatha said: "International investors are looking to see not only good technology ideas but they are also looking to see what local governments and local investors are doing to work with local entrepreneurs."

Pretoria News