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Scientists to find ways of training South Africans

by Nthambeleni Gabara
on 15 Sep 2008
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka has urged scientists from around the world to assist South Africa in finding ways to increase the number of skilled scientists in the country through human resource development programmes.

Speaking at the International Association of Science Parks (IASP) conference on Monday, Ms Mlambo-Ncguka said: "One of the biggest challenges as a country is human resource development. We hope that as innovators, you will find a way of addressing this challenge."

The world conference, the first of its kind to be held in South Africa, will provide an opportunity to share knowledge and information on how science parks can add value by accelerating the knowledge economy.

Until recently The Innovative Hub was Africa's first and only internationally accredited Science Park. There are now science parks in Morocco and Tunisia too.

Minister for Science and Technology Mosibudi Mangena said science parks fostered entrepreneurship and economic competitiveness. They also create environments that enhance knowledge sharing, transfer and commercialisation of technology.

"In this regard, science parks offer a special supportive type of business environment for today's expanding knowledge economy.

"Statistics show that the increased number of new science parks in the world correlates with the increased global emphasis on innovation and knowledge as drivers of the economy."

South Africa's innovation system has developed a substantial depot of local knowledge, but this had had a minimal influence on the real economy.

Mr Mangena also announced that in order to respond to the challenge of the innovation gap in an effective and coherent way, his department would be establishing the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA).

The agency will be aimed at stimulating and intensifying technological innovation to increase the country's economic growth. It will be designed to develop and support local technological inventions and innovations, create an enabling environment for their commercialisation.

The conference is running concurrently with the International Science, Innovation and Technology Exhibition (INSITE) and the Bio2Biz 2008 conference at the Sandton Convention Centre.

An initiative of the Department of Science and Technology, INSITE provides a platform for showcasing international innovative solutions to most pressing social and economic challenges.

While the Bio2Biz 2008 conference is aimed at exposing business and industry to international biotechnology trends and developments.

The Bio2Biz is also used to Benchmark South Africa's developments in biotechnology against the rest of the world. It affords both the industry and business an opportunity to work together.

"We are aware of the strategic importance of biotechnology to our national priorities, particularly in the area of human health, food security and environmental sustainability," said the minister.

Also speaking at the opening of the IASP, Gauteng Premier, Mbhazima Shilowa said one of the challenges facing the province was the development of the necessary skills to drive economic growth and social transformation.

"We need to place Gauteng at the cutting edge of knowledge production. We need to produce the skills and knowledge that can build new sectors of the economy and provide quality jobs in our province," said Mr Shilowa.

He said the conference was important in providing an opportunity to further explore areas of growth.

"We need to focus on to grow our economy, create jobs, reducing poverty as well as underdevelopment," he said. - BuaNews

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