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SA Innovation Summit to foster Swiss collaboration

The SA Innovation Summit is one of the country’s biggest entrepreneurial and innovative showcases and will this year feature an official partnership with Switzerland’s Swiss Start-up Summit.

The Summit also this week reveled that it had brought on the Swiss embassy as an international partner.

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SA Innovation Summit Director, Dr Audrey Verhaeghe, says the partnership is expected to support local innovators by providing global inspiration, knowledge, systems and funding.

“The ultimate goal of the Innovation Summit this year is Innovation Acceleration – scaling and impact for SA-owned ideas,” says Dr Verhaeghe. “What better way to help us bring this vision to life, than to partner with Switzerland, the world’s leading country in terms of innovation?”

Dr Verhaeghe says the SA Summit is delighted to be the collaborating country to the Swiss Start-up Summit, as this will provide local innovators with a cross-border, peer-to-peer learning exchange with Swiss Industry experts in nanotechnology, biotechnology and digital transformation. It is also expected that the South African event will enjoy far greater media reach in Europe and that the collaboration with the Swiss will create a larger playing field for innovators from Africa, allowing them to connect and/or be matched with international investors.

One reason for targeting this level of collaboration, the summit organisers says, is that the Swiss are actually pretty innovative. Among the factors it cites are the fact that Switzerland is largely considered to be the world’s most innovative and technologically advanced country – No.1 on the Global Innovation Index for four years running. 99% of enterprises are small/medium size, the country has an extremely low unemployment rate (3.7%).

It also builds on a history of collaboration with the mountainous European country, including university collaboration in various technology areas, with many high-tech start-ups launched as a result.

The summit expects its collaboration with the Swiss Embassy to add value from both sides in the form of knowledge exchange and network expansion. One major collaboration involve two round tables at the SA Innovation Summit about market trends in Europe as well as in South Africa in terms of Nano technology and Green Innovations. The SA Venture Leaders – a programme co-hosted by the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) and the University of Basel, will also have the opportunity to showcase at the SA Innovation Summit and link into a match and invest platform that facilitate the raising of funds with the right types of commercial innovations from South Africa.

When it comes to the Swiss Start-up Summit, South Africa will play the role of guest country in 2016, with South African start-ups and students to be given the opportunity to present their projects to potential Swiss partners at the innovation stage.

The SA Innovation Summit will be presenting a series of events in Cape Town and Ekurhuleni, with the final Summit to be held in Gauteng, from the 21st to the 24th of September.

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