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Neville R Comins 20I4 IASP African Division Conference 9 -11 April 2014.

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Presentation on theme: "Neville R Comins 20I4 IASP African Division Conference 9 -11 April 2014."— Presentation transcript:

1 Neville R Comins 20I4 IASP African Division Conference April 2014

2 The Origin of STPs, Technoparks and Innovation Centres Concept is now some 60 years old with examples in many developed and developing countries Africa has been slow in uptake (6 full members of IASP) Over the past decades, many projects have been started but have not been sustainable as STPs A few examples show real promise What have we learned as a Continent and do we have adequate systems of innovation or appropriate models to meet the needs? Many are established by Governments, but do they have policies to establish the optimum eco-system and drivers for success? Africa’s S&T Consolidated Plan of Action (2006) has defined Programme 5.6 to ‘Promote the creation of technology parks’ Why has there been no real response over 7 years?

3 Following the Developed World The dominant STP paradigm followed has been based on the developed world philosophy of ‘STI’ Systems of Innovation based on strong traditions of R&D Good experience of transfer of technology to business and industry gave rise to ‘linear thinking’ Clear understanding of the difference between ‘invention’ and ‘innovation’ Understanding of how innovation centres and STPs could link the R&D and market emergence of new technologies The CPA shows this approach where ‘technoparks’ are defined as ‘ensuring R&D generates products and services’ Our R&D, however, is limited on a global scale and often far from or not connected to market needs or opportunities Are STPs, Hubs and Innovation Centres built in our countries, based on such models. sustainable or set up for difficult futures or even failure?

4 What goals are often set for our STPs? Too often we start with a ‘real estate ‘ perspective ‘ Build it and they will come!!’ Foreign investors must be attracted Financially viable and sustainable projects will develop within a few years There will be lots of spin-outs from research Jobs will be created ‘Let’s start a new high-tech cluster’ (usually for in a new technology) Little financial priority compared to that granted to R&D or S&T The staff appointed as initial management are often from government Controls and management are based on government regulations, e.g. PFMA in South Africa Unfortunately none of these aspects create the necessary environment Sometimes we can be on the way to creating ‘monuments’.

5 STPs, Innovation Hubs and Centres in Africa Membership of IASP African and North African Divisions South Africa 3 Full members 3 Associate members Namibia1 Full member Botswana 1 Full member Kenya1 Affiliate member Nigeria2 Affiliate members Tunisia 1 Full member 2 Affiliate members BongoHive (Zambia) and iHub (Kenya) study (2013) Over 100 Hubs, Centres, etc. in 27 African countries with similar objectives to have a socio-economic impact (mostly <5 years old) Why is there so little overlap and linkage? Only 2 IASP members were included in the study 5

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7 Types of ‘innovation hubs’ State-of-the-art new facilities Attract research-based start-ups in high-tech sectors of the economy Large amounts of capital investment Usually government-driven Traditional Science parks Range of origins – business community, university, etc Lesser focus on physical facilities - location Focus on value added services (building on strengths) Assisting entrepreneurs with identified needs Regional business networks Activity-based innovation centres Integrating social and commercial objectives Creating synergies amongst stakeholders – informal communications Focus on providing ‘inspiring spaces’ Openness to risk Giving youth an opportunity and support to learn Third generation co- creation models S&T Park in Mozambique Botswana IH VUT S&T Park SA Namibia business Innovation centre Mlab, SA BongoHive, Zambia BWB, SA The Fringe, SA TIH, SA Courtesy of Comins and Kraemer-Mbula (2014)

8 Mode I: Traditional Science Parks Profile Emphasis on building state-of-the-art infrastructure Efforts on design and implementation Promotion of the establishment of high-tech /knowledge-based companies Government-driven Advantages Reputational effects Alignment or dependent on regional and national policy strategies Nurturing competitiveness of communities of leading high-tech companies – potential spill-over effects & attraction of FDI Financial sustainability, if government provides ongoing support Challenges Lengthy take off – complex and long construction (typically 5-7 years) Capital intensive Difficulty in finding the optimum type and number of tenants Rigidity in the objectives and measures Courtesy of Comins and Kraemer-Mbula (2014)

9 Mode II: Activity-based hubs Profile Less emphasis on infrastructure but accessibility (location) and More value added services Innovation programmes and activities designed to promote entrepreneurship. Low on staff Broader range of origins: focus on strategic partnerships (e.g. universities & trainings institutions, international organisations, large local and international companies, etc) Advantages Explicit business needs Emphasis on business cooperation – networking, exchanging experiences, market creation and lowering costs. Challenges Obtaining strong support from government, often linked to the actitivies Financial more sustainability Courtesy of Comins and Kraemer-Mbula (2014)

10 Mode III: Co-creation hubs Profile Broader set of goals (e.g. regeneration of urban areas, solutions to emerging social and environmental challenges) – e.g. Innovation Hub or STP conceived as an urban experiment Integration of complementary agendas of societal stakeholders. Innovation for societal and commercial purposes Advantages Reliance on synergies amongst a variety of stakeholders – territory matters/ innovation ‘districts’ Environment that allows for failure / openness to risk Building on what already exists – focus on the “soft” aspects Wider culture that is accepting of change/flexibility Challenges Managing alignment of the interests of a wide range of stakeholders Government buy-in but financial sustainability still seen as challenging Courtesy of Comins and Kraemer-Mbula (2014)

11 Factors affecting the establishment and growth of STPs Policies which focus on R&D and do not adequately understand the demands of innovation processes Inadequate linkages of S&T and Education policies with industrial policies Measurement systems for STPs based on high-level government priorities, e.g. numbers of jobs created Regulatory system for ‘government agencies’ limits freedom to act as a business operation R&D base generally fragmented and focused on HRD, and lacking entrepreneurial emphasis. Inadequate buy-in or alignment with local business community Not enough ‘fire power’ to attract FDI 11

12 What are the real needs? Successful innovations in Africa are more likely to spin-out from business environments or be based on the spirit of natural entrepreneurship (especially from the youth) They seek environments which stimulate collaboration, co-creation, networking, neutral facilitation, access to funding, access to markets, market visibility locally and internationally Convenient and good services, e.g. ICT, meeting space, etc. Often lacking all the necessary business experience, they need: Mentorship Pre-incubation and incubation Advice on governance, company law and people management IP counselling Thinking beyond 1 st world market ambitions to the solutions for local problems Policies to invest in the right people with passion for innovation and support value-adding services the real estate can follow

13 Some lessons Be careful of adopting modalities based on an underlying conceptualisation & understanding of how innovation takes place Understand the demographics of the region (e.g. 50% of the population under 25 years) Tailor the projects to each country, province or city Experimentation & piloting are critical – start small – physical infrastructure is important but not essential from the start Avoid paralysis by lack of capital – strategic support and buy-in can be as important – a lot can be done with little money Innovation is about ‘interactive learning’ (Lundvall) Share more and learn more!!

14 The IASP STP Community needs to understand the growth and success of the other hubs! We need to up our game! Thank you


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