2017 SARIMA Conference
The SARIMA conference (themed “Developing the Research & Innovation Value Chain) was well-attended with more than 300 delegates attending from across the SADC region and beyond.
The research management track had a wealth of interesting topics which demonstrated the diversity of research management in the African context as well as the growing research competence within Africa. There was a strong movement for growing research value chains to support local researchers. One stand out quote from the conference was: “Africans should not import (research) problems; we have enough (research) problems in Africa to focus our research on”. This was the unofficial take-away from this year conference, i.e. Africa can and should look to Africans for African solutions for African problems.
The innovation management track was equally exciting with various talks describing the evolving innovation ecosystems in the different African territories. Once again, the growing skills sets and competence levels were well demonstrated. Botswana and Namibian innovation eco-systems were presented on, as well as start-up culture in Tanzania and South Africa. With the growing connectivity of African countries, and the evolving national innovation ecosystems, Africa seems well positioned to play a serious role in future global big business.
The event included the famous gala dinner which celebrates the achievements of the industry and provides an opportunity for collegial fellowship outside of a work environment. This year saw Dr Andrew Bailey from the UCT RC&I receive the DST Excellence Award for a Distinguished Contribution to the Innovation Management profession. This is a very prestigious award only awarded to people demonstrating a significant impact and contribution in the SADC innovation management industry. The award was well deserved by Andrew.
Another exciting development was the inclusion of Mr Philip Hoekstra, IP Manager at RC&I on the SARIMA Executive Committee on the Innovation & Technology Transfer Portfolio. Philip is one of five members selected on the said portfolio by the SARIMA community to drive SARIMA and SARIMA initiatives into the future. Congratulations Mr Hoekstra!
Finally, there is a yin for every yang: SARIMA 2017 saw the end of an era with a farewell to Ms Jaci Barnett, Director of the TTO at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, with whom UCT has had close collaboration. Her career in innovation management spans more the 10 years with incredible achievements. She will be missed by the entire SARIMA community and the Western Cape Regional TTO Forum in particular. She will take up an exciting role at Bristol TTO in the UK.