File picture: Pexels
File picture: Pexels

How SAIS will strengthen systems through technological and social innovation

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Sep 28, 2020

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As one of the SA Innovation Summit’s partners in 2020, the Southern Africa Innovation Programme (known as SAIS 2) will be hosting their Annual Southern Africa Innovation Forum (ASAIF) as one of the summit’s tracks.

ASAIF 2020’s theme is RE:innovation – Rethink the system. Recently, we saw how innovation ecosystems experienced failures in the face of external shocks. These failures caused untold damage to thousands of businesses and their stakeholders, emphasising the importance of improving these ecosystems’ resilience and efficiency. We have to ensure the ecosystems serve all stakeholders, and that they keep doing so during the next external shock.

To achieve this, we need to engage in two broad, interrelated activities:

Remove Obstacles

Truly impactful technological innovation links to social and institutional change. The innovation ecosystem is key to this process by connecting stakeholders to various opportunities and support, but various environmental barriers block this function. Examples include old-fashioned incentives encouraging silo-thinking, regulatory barriers, and economic exclusion.

Foster Inclusive Innovation

We need solutions tailored to address challenges on the ground. Innovation can be driven from the bottom up to address societal challenges as well as innovation ecosystem flaws – designed by those who have personal experience with the issues they are trying to address. However, this means we need to provide the tools necessary to engage these local champions into the innovation process: intermediaries, resources, knowledge-transfer forums, and co-creation platforms.

RE:innovation is therefore about finding ways to strengthen our systems through solutions based on both technological and social innovation – and by making the most of these for socioeconomic inclusion. It is SAIS 2’s hope that innovators and innovation ecosystem role players attending SA Innovation Summit 2020 will indulge in their own moment of RE:innovation, and think about how they can contribute to make their innovation ecosystems more resilient.

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