The National Commission on Research, Science and Technology (NCRST) recently handed over the official grant agreement to the first Namibian grant recipient of the Southern Africa Innovation Support Program (SAIS 2) Innovation Fund at a signing ceremony held in Windhoek. SAIS 2 is a regional initiative that supports the growth of new businesses through strengthening innovation ecosystems and promotion of cross-border collaboration between innovation role-players in Southern Africa. The programme is supported by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA) of Finland, in partnership with the Ministries responsible for Science, Technology and Innovation of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia, and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat.
The first grant awarded to consortium led by Namibian applicant is one of the 12 grants awarded to trans-regional projects selected through a competitive Call for Proposals process issued in March 2018 to be implemented across the SADC region. In her welcoming remarks, Enid Keramen, NCRST Acting CEO stated that “This event signifies another milestone in NCRST’s quest to foster excellence through international collaboration. The NCRST and the Embassy of Finland equally recognizes the important role which Science, Technology and Innovation play in the pursuit of national economic growth, sustainable development and competitiveness translating into the improvement of quality of life for many in our respective countries.”
The Ambassador of Finland to Namibia, H.E. Pirkko-Liisa Kyöstilä in her statement mentioned that “Regional cooperation is important and the SAIS programme brings international players together to work toward common goals of increased innovation through growth of regional networks. Innovations play a key role in lifting people out of poverty and equipping them to be fully participating citizens.” Her Excellency also stated that the second Call for Proposals closed on 31 January and a total of 170 Concept Notes were received from all over SADC, which signalled a significantly high interest throughout the region.
The Ambassador of Finland to Namibia, H.E. Pirkko-Liisa Kyöstilä
SAIS Lead Expert Ilari Lindy signs the Grant Agreement with NCRST Acting CEO Enid Keramen
The first grant for Namibian-led consortium was handed over to the “Dololearn - Piloting Future Education” Project which is coordinated by Windhoek-based Dololo Operations, with implementing partners Tabled Namibia and two Finnish based organisations Polar Partners Ltd and University Properties of Finland. Aimed at introducing new types of learning, e-learning and progressive pedagogical techniques in local schools, the project will be implemented over 18 months with SAIS funding. “For us as consortium, this is now a go ahead and we are really excited. Our Finnish partners have just landed in Namibia so we are starting soon with the first activities we are really looking forward to taking on this project” says Tim Wucher, CEO of Dololo Operations. Eleven other projects from various SADC countries have also received funding through the same mechanism. NCRST is the focal point for SAIS in Namibia and works with the SAIS Programme Management Office (PMO) based in Windhoek in overall management of the fund.
NCRST Chairperson Dr Nortin Titus looks on as Tim Wucher, receives grant agreement from H.E. Pirkko-Liisa Kyöstilä