Leading healthcare innovator, Philips Africa, and The Innovation Hub, a subsidiary of the Gauteng Growth Development Agency (GGDA), have joined forces in search for healthcare’s “next big idea” with the launch of the first South African Innovation Fellows Competition.

The partnership comes following the results of Philips SA’s African Innovation Research study aimed to uncover what South Africans think of innovation, what they perceived as barriers to innovation and areas where successful innovation could improve lives.

“Following our research, we now want to show our support in offering South Africans the opportunity to showcase their own tangible innovations that can fundamentally change and improve the lives of others,” said Senior Vice President and CEO of Philips Africa, JJ Van Dongen.

The study revealed that 60% of South Africans consider themselves to be innovators with 20% of the 1000 participants saying they are not reliant on others to create solutions. According to the survey, 71% of Indians in South Africa and 80% of those living in KwaZulu-Natal are leading in terms of seeing themselves as innovative.

The survey showed that 57% of correspondents indicated a lack of money and 29% cited poor infrastructure as a major barrier to innovation. The study showed that people expected more support from government and corporates, 23% of the respondents mentioned unsupportive corporate culture and 22% government regulations as key barriers.

A majority of participants identified education and healthcare sectors as areas of opportunity in innovation and where the most beneficial results could be seen.

Through the competition, Philips will be providing R200,000 as a research & development fund in improving access to primary healthcare.

Interested participants can register and submit their concepts at www.innovationfellows.co.za. The proposal should address how technology can be used to overcome the challenges and state the impact expected.

“Innovation is a catalyst for economic development and increases the competitiveness of our local economy. These are the innovations that will assist in improving the living conditions of the South African communities.” said CEO of The Innovation Hub, McLean Sibanda.

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