New Innovation Fund Committee to ‘hit ground

12th February 2018
STARTUP FUND: Dr Alfred Madigela launch new finance scheme Source:The Midweek Sun

The implementation of the Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) Fund is expected to breathe life into stifled startups in the innovation sector that have over the years been challenged by lack of funding. Minister for Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Dr Alfred Madigela last week urged the newly elected Botswana Innovation Fund Committee members to hit the ground running in ensuring that they commit the first grants during the current financial year. The committee that consists of members nominated from academia, business, private and public sector include; Prof David Norris of the University of Botswana, Dr Thapelo Matsheka, Dr George Matllho of the Botswana Vaccine Institute and Oteng Sebonego of NORSAD.

Members of the committee have a crucial oversight role in the Fund’s establishment and implementation, while BIH will serve as the secretariat. The purpose of the special fund is to support entrepreneurs by providing grand funding to deserving projects in the innovation space. According to Dr Madigela, funding of innovation has become a pre-requisite to achieving the solutions and products that are beneficial to society. “Government is spearheading the drive to use innovation as a trajectory for economic growth. To this end the establishment of the Innovation Fund would assist to close the gap in early stage financing for key projects of national importance,” Dr Madigela said at the launch of the Fund Committee.

Government has set aside an amount of P12 million to be used for funding projects in the current financial year. The grants call, according to Dr Madigela shall be accessed through competitive calls advertised to the public to allow submission of proposals. “We have put in place robust governance framework to allow evaluation and awards from this Fund. The oversight committee is the main structure that will ensure delivery on the objectives of the Fund,” Dr Madigela said. The Fund’s grant scheme is expected to 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 and social impact.

In addition, the Fund’s guidelines will provide details of eligible and non-eligible costs. Companies registered with the BIH are advised to heed the call when the first call for proposals for funding of competitive innovation projects is made soon. According to Madigela, the turnaround times for submission will vary but ideally it should be between four to six weeks, for example, from submission of full application to receiving feedback. Upon awards, the grants disbursements shall be based on milestones.

Funding framework addresses: Gap closing support initiatives; Innovation funding Procurement of innovative products and services Facilitating venture capital and angel funding networks Crating an appetite for investments into new innovative solutions from the corporate entities and general public Cultivating a spirit of innovation in the nation

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