29 September 2006
South Africa and Finland are to co-operate on a programme to strengthen innovation in the country.
Science and Technology Minister Mosibudi Mangena and Finnish Ambassador Heikki Tuunanen signed the agreement in Pretoria on Thursday.
The programme, to be driven by South Africa’s Science and Technology Department with assistance from the Embassy of Finland in Pretoria, will run for 30 months with a budget of over €4-million (approximately R40-million).
The programme will foster collaboration and exchange of expertise between South Africa and Finland, with Finland providing technical assistance to SA – among other things, to help bridge the gap between research and development outputs and the commercialisation of products and services.
A national coordinating mechanism, linked to a regional network, will be set up to deliver support services to science parks and centres of excellence throughout the country.
At the provincial level, the programme aims to strengthen collaboration between the government, universities, research institutes and industry.
At the rural level, it aims to pilot innovation through training and other mechanisms to build human capacity, reduce poverty and enhance economic development.
South African technical experts will be visiting Finland to gain experience from that centre’s NSI and centres of excellence, and to establish networks for collaboration.