The Southern Africa Innovation Support Programme (SAIS 2) on 7th December 2018 officially launched the first 12 projects to receive support from the SAIS 2 Innovation Fund first Call for Proposals. The launch took place at the SAPPI Research Centre in the Innovation Hub, where the Coordinators of each project, SAIS 2 Focal Points from Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia, a capacity building team from Loughborough University London and MLabs South Africa and other stakeholders were present.
“The SAIS 2 Innovation Fund is the key mechanism through which the Programme assists local initiatives that promote early-stage entrepreneurship and build an understanding what works in innovation ecosystems to facilitate entrepreneurs in the SADC region”, said Ilari Patrick Lindy, SAIS 2 Lead Expert in his welcoming remarks.
The SAIS 2 Innovation Fund provides support through a competitive process where the eligibility criteria advocates for implementation in a minimum of 2 SADC member states, one of which must be a SAIS 2 partner country and applicants to be a consortium of innovation support organisations. In response to the competitive Call for Proposals, several organisations formed consortiums to seek support for in line with the three funding windows of the SAIS 2 Innovation Fund. Window 1, Developing Institutional Capacity for Regional Innovation Cooperation (Stronger Ecosystems), Window 2, Scaling Enterprises Through Stronger Innovation Support Organisations and Window 3 Inclusive Innovations.
The 12 projects are the result of a rigorous process of application and evaluation which started in March of 2018 with submission of concept notes to SAIS 2. A total of 149 concept notes were received, screened and evaluated by independent experts from SADC and international countries. A shortlist of 43 applications were invited to submit Full Proposals, which underwent further evaluations and shortlisting to the current 12 approved projects.
The launch was officiated by the Head of Development Cooperation at the Embassy of Finland, Pretoria on behalf of the MFA, Counsellor Paivi Lehtonen. Counsellor Lehtonen commended the Programme emphasising, ”The SAIS 2 support provided for innovative projects with cross-border partnerships, connects networks of actors and their innovation ecosystems from across SADC countries, bringing these one step closer to each other”. She further assured the participants of the MFA’s support, stating “The MFA is proud to be supporting these committed teams eager to develop the institutional capacity, scaling of enterprises and inclusive innovation in their countries and in the region.”
The Director: Africa Bilateral Cooperation at the South African Department of Science and Technology (DST), Joseph Senona, also offered his congratulations to the 12 projects. Mr Senona, who is the South African representative on the SAIS 2 Supervisory Board (SVB ) in his remarks stressed “Don’t see these projects as individual projects, but as an effort to bring the SADC region together. This is an opportunity to intensify efforts in building a regional ecosystem which supports innovation”.
Read more about the various projects awarded funding through the SAIS 2 Innovation Fund here. The SAIS 2 Innovation Fund 2nd Call for Proposals is currently open and deadline for submission is 31 January 2019.