Creating entrepreneurial opportunities for young innovators

BioFISA II Programme Officer and SANBio Communication Officer talking to participants at the launch of National Science Week in Cape Town

In South Africa, small and medium-size companies contribute 40% of our GDP and account for 60% of all employment. SMEs create opportunities especially for young people, and creating opportunities for young people is what the country should be focusing on.

To this end, the Minister of Science and Technology, Honourable Naledi Pandor, has launched a new initiative called NEXTGen100 which is aimed to assist young innovators to transform their innovative ideas into business ventures.

The Minister announced the initiative at the launch of National Science Week on 6th August 2016 at the University of the Western Cape in Bellville. Each year a different theme is chosen and activities aimed at the target audiences are based around the theme. The theme for 2016 is "Science for Sustainable Development and Improved Quality of Life".

The NextGen100 is designed to enable the progression of ideas from proof-of-concept stage through to commercialisation. Through this initiative, 100 talented young people at different educational levels will win an opportunity to be mentored and supported to establish technology based companies focusing on developing novel innovations.

Innovation is central to the government’s endeavours to develop the country’s economy, said Minister Pandor addressing over 3 000 learners from across the Western Cape and more than 80 exhibitors from different provinces – including SANBio.

The National Science Week is an annual week-long (08-13 August 2016) event aimed at celebrating the role that science, mathematics, engineering and technology play in everyday life and encouraging more young people to pursue careers in these fields. It attracts thousands of learners to workshops, science shows and exhibitions at universities, schools and science centres countrywide.