The Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, has launched a new initiative “NextGen100” to assist young innovators to transform their innovative ideas into business ventures in the country.
The Minister made the announcement today at the launch of National Science Week 2016 at the University of the Western Cape. She was accompanied by Premier Helen Zille and UWC Rector, Prof Tyrone Pretorius.
NextGen100, established by the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), was designed to enable the progression of ideas from proof-of-concept stage through to commercialisation. Through the initiative, 100 talented young people at different educational levels will win an opportunity to be mentored and supported to establish technology based companies focusing on developing innovations.
Addressing over 3 000 learners from across the Western Cape, Minister Pandor said innovation was central to the government endeavours to develop the country’s economy. The Minister hoped that the next generation would solve the country’s problems through innovation and entrepreneurship, if supported properly.
“I am pleased today to launch this great initiative called “NextGen100” which will help the young to start businesses in technology. We need to harness the innovative spirit of young people in addressing our development challenges. In South Africa, small and medium-size companies contribute 40% of our GDP and account for 60% of all employment. So this is where we should be focusing,” said the Minister.
Minister Pandor also urged learners and members of the public to visit National Science Week sites countrywide from 6 to 13 August.
Western Cape Premier Helen Zille in her address said that South Africa was involved in mega scientific projects like the construction of the Square Kilometre Array because it had the “know how”, and ‘research capacity’. The Premier told learners that they were growing up in an exciting time and they must make use of it, as they were the next generation of knowledge workers.
UWC Rector Prof Tyrone Pretorius said the university was fortunate to host the launch of National Science Week 2016. “As an institution we have always stressed the importance of science and its contribution to our country and economy, and to global collaborations and progress,” he said.
The rector added that science and technology were vital drivers of human progress, vital to confronting issues like global climate change, poverty and scarce resources. In the face of these complexities, UWC had opted to position itself as an “engaged university”, a nexus of research, teaching and learning.
“South Africa has come a long way, but we need both thinkers and doers to go further. We need people who are willing to find new knowledge, to test what we have always thought to be true, and to find a way to deal with the many challenges facing our increasingly globalised world,” said the rector
The NSW is an annual week-long event aimed at celebrating the role that science, mathematics, engineering and technology play in everyday life and encouraging more young people to follow careers in these fields. It attracts thousands of learners to workshops, science shows and exhibitions at universities, schools and science centres countrywide.
Issued by the Department of Science and Technology and the University of Western Cape.