Home News Forum to stimulate NC economy

Forum to stimulate NC economy


This platform was formed to not only stimulate the Northern Cape economy and build networking opportunities but also to provide jobs in the long run as well.

File image.

A NORTHERN Cape Innovation Forum (NCIF), a multi-stakeholder and cross-sector body aimed at creating synergies between government, academia, business and civil society in order to build inclusive approaches for sustainable industrialisation through innovation, has been established.

The inaugural meeting of the forum will be held at Sol Plaatje University on Friday.

This platform was formed to not only stimulate the Northern Cape economy and build networking opportunities but also to provide jobs in the long run as well.

Speaking ahead of the soft launch of the forum, executive director: special projects at the Sol Plaatje University, Professor Patrick FitzGerald, said the forum is an initiative to bring a number of parties together from government, business and civil society for both the concept of and the practical implementation of innovation in the Northern Cape.

“By innovation we mean the kind of innovation that should be orientated around economic development. So it’s all about trying to bring people together who may not be currently in dialogue, may not be in practical relationships, may not be currently in shared project programmes which could have the potential to create economic development, to create jobs, to create all kinds of projects that would be of an innovative nature. Innovation meaning that we do not necessarily invent something but being able to apply something new and being able to contextualise that thing to work specifically for the Northern Cape,” FitzGerald said.

He said that this could be in traditional industries, the knowledge economy, service industries, tourism or in renewable energy. “And one of the things we will be doing is strategising as to where we see the greatest possibility for this sort of input.”

Put simply, FitzGerald said, was that they wanted to create innovative networks for parties in the Northern Cape who have not been in a functioning network before.

He went on to say that the forum had a vision and scope that is provincial, but initially their efforts and meetings may be more inclined to this area but not necessarily so. “If we for example look at what innovation or networks that could assist renewable energy – these would not necessarily be restricted to the Frances Baard area.”

FitzGerald said this initiative came about because the CSIR which operates under the Department of Science and Innovation (formerly Department of Science and Technology) has enabled a number of innovative forums in other provinces. For example, FitzGerald said, there was one in the Free State which is already up and running. “Other provinces have them already so we are not innovative in that sense but we can learn from their experiences.”

He also pointed out that the forum was not a funder but catalyst. “I personally believe that not everyone in the Northern Cape who has an organisation or who can have an impact on the economy is talking to the people they should be talking too. We can get so many more parties talking and we hope there will be initiatives which flow from that.”

FitzGerald went on to say that as a university they were “extremely happy” to be hosting this forum. “I think the idea that the university be the convener is a good idea. In fact the terms for funding from the CSIR specifies that the convener cannot be a government entity although government entities will be part of the steering committee, and the broader forum. Looking around the Northern Cape we are the obvious party to do this. So we really need to take it on. And if you take it on you need to be enthusiastic about it.”