Allen Boshwaen, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH), last week revealed that construction of the Science and Technology Park is progressing well, saying he is confident the park will be operational by 2016.
Boshwaen added that at full operation, the Science and Technology Park will attract science and technology companies to Botswana. He further said BIH will continue to forge strategic partnerships for property development in other parts of the park.
“We will harness the impact of innovation support programmes such as new technological solutions and jobs created in new niche sectors. So far we have managed to increase BIH membership and set up a vibrant innovation eco system that supports priority economic clusters such as diamonds, mining, tourism and beef,” he said.
In order to foster entrepreneurship, enhance innovation capacity and create job opportunities, BIH has since 2013 put into operation three additional innovation support programmes, namely the Technology Transfer Office, First Steps Venture Centre (FSVC) and the Cleantech Centre, all aimed at fostering entrepreneurship, enhancing innovation capacity and create job opportunities particularly for the youth.
On other developments, Boshwaen said the national Technology Transfer Office has been set up to provide local entrepreneurs and innovators with the required tools to develop, protect and commercialize their innovations.
Some of the major ongoing projects at BIH include construction of the central icon building, intended to foster innovation as well as create new office, laboratory and conferencing spaces.
“Once the park is operational it will certainly gear up the interest of property developers, high technology companies and prospective park tenants. We have signed up our first private sector lease agreement to develop a satellite communication facility within the park,” said Boshwaen.
BIH will also lease out land to innovative science and technology entities, co-develop building and specialised facilities with strategic partners, and establish joint ventures with private sector companies to implement new innovations in ICT and clean technologies in different parts of the country.
“We provide support services and incentives to support innovators and innovative companies to transform their ideas and initiatives into reality, in so doing facilitating diversification of the economy and job creation,” said Boshwaen.
BIH’s list of innovation support services includes the Technology Entrepreneurship Development Program, Microsoft Innovation Centre, Southern African Innovation Support, Technology Transfer Services, Clean Technology Centre of Excellence as well as the Labour and Tax Dispensation and Innovation Fund. To date all innovation support services have been fully operationalized with the exception of the Innovation Fund, which is expected to be fully operational this year.
“BIH also offers physical infrastructure to facilitate innovation and collaboration. The country has a large number of ICT graduates who are currently unemployed and part of our role is to consistently engage and spearhead the local ICT developer community towards development of local ICT content, skills and creation of jobs,” said Boshwaen.
BIH recently launched the Cyber City Kgotla, which provides tailored services amongst them, physical co-working space, access to high speed internet, technical and business trainings as well as testing platforms.