SA’s Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the UK-based non-profit organisation, Global Innovation Fund (GIF), have signed a three-year partnership agreement to support innovations that deal with major health and social issues.

The new partnership will support innovations that are being piloted and may also support innovations that are being expanded to reach new markets.

Under the agreement, the partners will co-invest in GIF-selected innovations that are in line with key strategic priorities for the country, while the DST will make available grants of up to R15 million for the duration of the agreement.

The GIF invests in innovations that aim to improve the lives and provide opportunities to millions of people in the developing world. It provides grants or risk capital investment to innovators and social entrepreneurs in order to accelerate the development, rigorous testing and up-scaling of evidence-based and market-tested innovations.

“This partnership fits in snugly with the work that the Department is already engaged in around scaling and testing local innovations that lead to an improved quality of life for poor South Africans. I am certain that there is a lot we will learn from the GIF, and it, too, will learn from South Africa,” said Deputy Director-General for Socio-economic Innovation Partnerships at the DST, Imraan Patel.

Patel added that South Africa was looking forward to implementing this partnership to support global efforts to secure sustainable development.

To date Over 500 organisations in South Africa and across the continent have responded to the global call to submit proposals for innovations. The proposals will be reviewed by an independent panel of experts, with the best innovations selected and provided access to risk capital to develop their innovation.

Chief Executive Officer at GIF, Dr Alix Zwane, welcomed the new partnership, saying it represented an important step for the GIF as it focused more on innovations with the potential to impact the lives of millions of the world’s poorest people.

“Working with the DST, we will find, pilot, test and scale promising new African-led or African-focused approaches to dealing with major health and social issues on the continent,” said Dr Zwane.

“I hope that this new sub-fund will challenge South African entrepreneurs to think about new solutions to benefit the poorest people in society,” concluded Dr Zwane.

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