Southern Africa Innovation Support Programme preps for second phase
The Southern African Innovation Support Programme (SAIS) is on its second phase which kicked off this month and the official launch was done at the Finnish Embassy in Windhoek, this week.
The 2nd phase of the programme is set to build on previous achievements, with new partners and a renewed focus with the aim of placing special focus on youth enterprising and innovative entrepreneurship.
The first phase stimulated regional policy-making in 2011 for addressing problems with regional problems and enhancing regional innovation cooperation in the SADC region such as providing training, creating networks and funding new projects for piloting new models for innovation support.
According to SAIS the 2nd phase of the programme is divided into developing institutional capacity for regional innovation and cooperation.
SAIS Phase 2 will include Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia. The total budget for the Programme from the government of Finland is Euro 8.7 million, with local counter funding expected.
Over 300 beneficiaries will be supported in various innovation activities. With these new efforts that priorities an operational network of key institutions established between the participating countries of Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique.
“The precise focus on the regional innovation requires a new enforced commitment from the partner countries and strong result-based thinking. It means that both the programme implementation and design have to be carried out with a long vision in mind, beyond the SAIS programme, into the future,” said Finnish Ambassador to Namibia, Anne Saloranta at the signing of the the MoU agreements.
According to Saloranta the Programme’s emphasis is on concrete innovation activities to be delivered on a programmatic basis, with activities adapted to the specifics of different target audiences allowing for a learning process, scalability and replicability with multiple organisations within the public and private sectors able to take ownership and repeat the achievements beyond the programme.
This will involve training for better support for private sector innovation and enterprise development. “There will be more key organisations and their staff available to deliver quality business development services, and an accelerated public sector policy-making pace,” SAIS said in a statement.
Building further on these efforts, more focus will be put on improving the capacity of enterprises to innovate and enter new markets, with an aim to bring 50 new products or services to the market through funding for selected projects, accelerating 60 innovation initiatives and coaching and mentoring 400 individuals and innovation in enterprises.
As innovation becomes increasingly recognised as a key factor for sustainable development for Southern Africa, SAIS is of the opinion that together with local players building public policies and resilient innovation systems in the region is being delayed by modest funding, weak skills, and lack of coordination and linkages.
Meanwhile, a Challenge Fund will be set up to facilitate funding for new projects, with regional partnerships and regional impact as essential criteria for any project supported.
Overall Programme management will be conducted from the Programme Management Office, located in Windhoek, Namibia. Focal Points will be contracted in each of the SAIS partner countries, to coordinate activities at the national level, and to provide networking and training activities.