Tech solutions for small businesses

24 February 2006

The Department of Science and Technology’s technology stations programme offers small businesses access to the technology and innovation resources of South Africa’s universities.

Universities, armed with professional staff, specialised technical and scientific equipment and tailor-made training courses, are uniquely placed to contribute to technology transfer and innovation in business.

The technology stations programme facilitates interaction between universities and small, medium and micro enterprise (SMMEs), identifying the needs of SMMEs in selected sectors and providing technology solutions based on the expertise of different universities.

There’s also financial support available. In February 2006, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) signed an agreement with Tshumisano (meaning partnership or cooperation), the agency set up to implement the technology stations programme.

In terms of the agreement, the IDC will provide financing to SMMEs involved in the programme that are looking to break new ground in their chosen sector.

“We want to be a catalyst to sustainable SMME development and competitiveness, to facilitate the establishment of commercially viable, job creating and value adding new ventures or businesses,” IDC CEO Geoffrey Qhena said in a statement.

Technology stations offer small businesses access to technology advisory services, product analysis and development, testing facilities, technology audits, technology information support, process development and improvement, product problem solving, and training and development.

The number of stations has grown from three in 2001 to 10 in 2004: