Technology stations bridge the gap between research and industry
One of the many Memoranda of Understanding signed by the National Commission on Research, Science and Technology bore its first fruits this week when a large delegation of the Technology Innovation Agency from South Africa met with officials in the Ministry of Industrialisaton, Trade and SME Development, to design a strategy for the wider use of so-called technology stations.
“Technology stations are established as partnerships between businesses, higher education institutions and the government to stimulate and accelerate the growth of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and start-ups through interaction with experts at universities and vocational training centres” stated the science commission when announcing the collaboration between itself, the ministry and the Technology Innovation Agency.
Technology stations provide access to world-class infrastructure and expertise that would otherwise not be available to innovators and entrepreneurs, enabling them to engage in technology innovation.
This is envisaged through the signed Memorandum of Understanding of September 2015 which paved the way for the commission and the Technology Innovation Agency to support technology development and ensure that research from higher education institutions are translated into products and services that demonstrate commercial potential. “One of the first initiatives of this strategic partnership is to leverage the available expertise in South Africa to set up technology stations that will drive the growth of Namibian MSMEs and promote economic development” said the commission.
The ultimate beneficiaries of technology stations are the clients who are supported to develop unique products, processes and services. Moreover, technology stations enable universities to be more responsive to the needs of business and society by providing relevant technology services to both MSMEs and industry.
Vincent Nowaseb, the commission’s General Manager for Innovation and Technology Development, said “one of the critical outcomes of the meeting held with industry and academics is the need for Namibian institutions to strengthen synergies to act in a coordinated manner in supporting industrial research, technology development and innovation in key economic sectors such as agro-processing, manufacturing technologies and engineering.”
During their visit, the South African delegation met with various role players in the tech space, especially industries in food & agro-processing, clothing & textiles, engineering and adaptronics.
The Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and SME Development forms an integral part in ensuring the sustainability and overall success of various technology stations around the country. “It is crucial to bring together key stakeholders at macro, meta and micro level to formalise a technical working relationship with the Technology Innovation Agency to achieve the goals set out in the Industrial Policy and the Growth at Home strategy “, noted Tulimeyo Kaapanda, Programme Manager for Industrial Upgrading and Modernisation at the ministry.