Israel props Botswana up

08th August 2017



Sunday marked the 69th anniversary of the Independence of the State of Israel which Botswana has bilateral relations with. The celebrations could not have come at a better time than now as the Israeli government showed the spirit of brotherhood, celebrating in grand-style by not only sending its non- resident Ambassador to Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, His Excellency Gershon Kedar, but also agreed to send a high ranking official Anya Eldan- the vice president of Israel Innovation Authority (IIA) who heeded the appeal by Botswana Innovation Hub to share experiences on innovation funding at the first Israel-Botswana Innovation Hub seminar on Monday. The BIH is strengthening its ability to implement an innovation hub. The purpose of Botswana Innovation Hub Fund (BIHF) is to (a) promote innovation through technology, product and business development in the private sector by providing cash grants to companies and organisations registered with the Botswana Innovation Hub, and universities and research organisations inside or outside the Botswana Innovation Hub, to which companies and organisations registered with the Botswana Innovation Hub may sub­contract part of the research and development work to encourage companies and organisations registered with the Botswana Innovation Hub to transfer skills to citizen employees by providing cash grants to be utilised for institutionalised training, and, or approved on­the­job training programmes. The workshop was hosted by BIH’s parent Ministry of Tertiary Education Research Science Technology. BIH is charged with the responsibility of driving the national innovation agenda with commercialisation of national innovations. It is common knowledge that BIH is the first and only science technology park in the country. It has a specific mandate of implementing the Innovation Fund which is a gap closing funding scheme duly authorised by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. While the Israel Innovation Authority (IIA) has been in existence for 40 years as an agency, it has been revamped and run under the government for a year. The IIA started with a capital of USD 100million given by the government and were given set targets to reach and ensure the money earns reasonable profit. Speaking at the workshop, the Chief Executive Officer of BIH, Alan Boswaen said the implementation of the Fund requires a number of inputs from different stake holders. Furthermore the objectives of the workshop are to impart knowledge on innovation funding strategies and implementation framework, and to discuss the key elements of implementing the national framework. He emphasised that key in all this is support for national innovations to be commercialised and have a positive impact on Batswana at large. In her presentation, Anya Eldan did not disappoint. She covered topics such as Israel innovation Ecosystem; Entrepreneurship and building the Venture Capital industry, research and innovation industry collaborations, building a national innovation Ecosystem and international collaborations which were quite enlightening. She also cautioned her Batswana audience not to cut and paste her models because what has worked for Israel may not necessarily work for Botswana Although the workshop was worthwhile, equally disappointing and disturbing, is that save for Minister Dr Alfred Madigela and Permanent Secretary Theophilus Mooko, authorities who matter most such as MPs and other high-ranking officials who will have approved the recommendations for BIH to strengthen its Fund did not attend.

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