Innovation for economic diversification hailed
The Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) last week held its fourth installment of the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Festival in an effort to encourage innovation as another avenue for economic diversification.
The 2018 Festival was held under the theme; STEM Driven Economy: Transforming Research into Profitable Products and Services from the 17th to the 19th April at its Palapye campus.
Speaking at the event that brought scientists, engineers, and mathematicians under one roof, BIUST Vice-Chancellor, Professor Otlogetswe Totolo noted that STEM Festivals are events at which innovations and inventions are acknowledged, celebrated and nurtured.
Professor Totolo also noted that such festivals also provide a platform and a forum for innovators and inventors, researchers and academics to showcase their inventions, concepts, blueprints and final products.
He further said that the festivals also provide a platform for market-ready inventions to get the exposure and necessary funding as businesses and venture capitalists were present and keeping a close eye on how they can invest in the inventions.
Totolo highlighted that the festivals have grown in leaps and bounds since inception in 2015 with participants growing from 4 936 in 2015 to 13 548 in 2018 taking the cumulative number of participants over the years to a staggering 84 548.
“We have trained 446 science teachers to date and an additional 670 people on Information Communication Technology (ICT),” the prof revealed.
Speaking at the same festival, Botswana Institute for Technology Research and Innovation (BITRI) Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Shedden Masupe, said the economy should look towards a STEM driven-economy by transforming research into profitable products and services.
Masupe noted that the research priority areas included technologies that included energy, electronics and communications, Information Systems Technology (IST) as well as natural resources such as water, the environment we live in and materials such as nanomaterials and building materials.
He encouraged stakeholders in the STEM industry to work towards growing the innovation culture from the roots as well as a facilitating for a functional innovation eco-system.
The BITRI CEO also highlighted that in order to get to a fully functioning and sustainable STEM-driven- economy, there should be a balanced regulatory framework and an enhanced trust in local products, which are as good as those imported into the country.
BITRI, Masupe noted is working towards the realisation of a STEM driven-economy as its mandate is to conduct research, identify and/or develop appropriate technologies in line with national priorities and needs of the country.
BITRI has also been mandated with commercialisation of the intellectual properties obtained from the organisation’s research and development as well as promote technology transfer through collaboration with specialised agencies and partners.