Innovation Fund has been created which is expected to assist to close a gap in early stage financing of key projects of national importance in order to drive innovation. The Fund was launched on Thursday by the Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Dr Alfred Madigele. Madigele said funding for innovation has become a pre-requisite to achieving solutions and products that are beneficial to society. “Government is spearheading the drive to use innovation as trajectory for economic growth,” he said. Madigele announced that government has set aside an amount of P12 m to be used for funding projects in the current financial year. “The grants shall be accessed through competitive calls advertised to the public to allow submission of proposals,” said the minister, adding that they have put in place a robust governance framework to allow evaluation and awards from this Fund. He said the oversight committee is the main structure that will ensure delivery on the objectives of the fund. The minister said a key risk is the Fund’s sustainability as it does not have guaranteed long-term refinancing framework.
Madigele said the Fund’s grant scheme shall follow an annual plan approved for implementations each year with agreed set targets. “The criteria for funding shall take into consideration several factors including Intellectual Property, sustainability, social impact among others,” the minister said. The Fund is intended to provide grant funding to deserving projects which promote innovation through technology, product and business development in the private sector. The companies have to be registered members of the Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH); and universities and research organisations inside or outside BIH, to which companies and organisations registered with BIH may subcontract part of the research and development work. The first call for submission is expected to be made soon after the Fund Committee meeting that will agree on key issues towards the Fund’s implementation. BIH CEO Alan Boshwaen said they will continue to work with other relevant entities to avoid duplication of efforts in areas of innovation.