The workshop took place on the 18 July 2019 in Kimberley at the Sol Plaatje University (SPU) with stakeholders who represent the Northern Cape Innovation Forum. The workshop was jointly organised by EPD, SPU and the Northern Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism (NC DEDaT), and was attended by officials from the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), Council for Science and Industrial Research (CSIR), Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), other colleagues at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), as well as the Kimberly Black Management Forum.
Dr. Sikhulumile Sinyolo, Dr. Peter Jacobs and Dr. Irma Booyens from EPD presented on the Tools for Local Innovation Advancement (T4LIA), developed by EPD through our work for DSI. The toolset includes a set of four complementary instruments that can be used to assess and promote innovation at a local level. These tools assist local actors to take stock of their local innovation landscape and orientation, and innovation capabilities to engage in deeper conversations on how to promote local innovation, and identify and implement innovative initiatives that have potential for far reaching and lasting developmental impact. While the conventional big innovation surveys often focus on big innovators, the T4LIA aims to also unravel hidden innovations by small players, which are critical in generating innovation driven inclusive development.
EPD, with stakeholders present, reflected on how T4LIA can be used to support the vision of the Northern Cape Innovation Forum (NCIF) to transform the province into an innovation region. The stakeholders appreciated the flexibility and adaptability of the tools, which allows the tools to be locally grounded and generate information that suits the local actors’ needs. It is envisaged that EDP will work closely with the NCIF to carry out a rapid appraisal of the innovation landscape, which will help the forum plan longer-term interventions in support of innovation-driven regional economic and social development. As part of the rapid innovation assessment exercise, it was recommended that EPD works with researchers from the SPU; sharing the tools, frameworks and practices with these locally-based knowledge producers as part of institutionalising the T4LIA in the province. An in-depth assessment of the innovation ecosystem of the province should follow.