8th Innovation Festival in Durban: A Resounding Success in Shaping Tomorrow’s Innovation Landscape

Innovate Durban 8th Innovation Festival
Unveiling brilliance at Innovate Durban's 8th Innovation Festival – where thought leaders, change-makers, and pioneers converge to champion innovation for KwaZulu Natal. Photo: Supplied

The 8th Innovation Festival held at the Hilton Garden Inn, Umhlanga Arch in Durban, KZN last week proved to be yet another monumental and resounding success.

This event which is hailed as the premier innovation event in the province brought together thought leaders in innovation, as well as change-makers and pioneers from various regional and local sectors to explore and champion innovation for KwaZulu Natal. The event, hosted by Durban innovation agency, Innovate Durban, was a dynamic platform that celebrated the progression and sustainability of innovation in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, and beyond.

The festival commenced with a warm welcome by Innovate Durban board member and CEO of OpenCities Lab, Richard Gevers who set the tone for a day filled with insightful discussions and groundbreaking sessions.

eThekwini Municipality Deputy Chair of ECOD, Councillor, Philisiwe Ndlovu, delivered the opening address, emphasizing the significance of innovation in shaping the future of the Municipality and reaffirming the City’s commitment to supporting the innovation ecosystem. In her address, she highlighted that it is only through collaborative efforts such as the Innovation Festival that innovation can develop and truly be a poverty-alleviating instrument for the people of South Africa.

The conference kicked off with a keynote address from local acclaimed motivational speaker, entrepreneur, and author, Cindy Norcott who delved deeper into the importance of fostering a growth mindset to cultivate a culture that values learning, adaptability, and continuous improvement, emphasizing the impact of consistency being a super-power that cultivates purpose-led innovation.

The festival featured engaging panel discussions, such as “Innovation Tomorrow Unlocked Today,” moderated by Pearl Maphumulo, Managing Director of The Business Agency. The panel explored practical steps and strategies needed to bridge the gap between futuristic innovation concepts and their tangible realization in the present.

"Innovation Tomorrow Unlocked Today" panel discussion
“Innovation Tomorrow Unlocked Today” panel discussion

Another highlight was the panel discussion “Rise Durban! Establishing the Region as a Premier Innovation Hub,” where industry experts from eThekwini Municipality and KZN Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, discussed designing, developing, and implementing a framework conducive to supporting and sustaining the local innovation ecosystem.

With water security being such a regionally specific challenge, the festival also delved into this crucial topic with a panel discussion led by Patrick Martel, Research and Impact Lead at Innovate Durban which explored challenges, innovations, and strategies for safeguarding this precious and critical resource. Sponsored by fellow innovation agency, Innovate UK, this panel discussion was truly a peer review in how innovation is the only key to solving some of our most critical needs.

The day also featured an exciting keynote address from the founder and CEO of PC Training & Business College and fellow Durban-nite, Jay Ramnundlall, on “Navigating the Impact of AI on EdTech.” The discussion explored the revolutionary intersection of artificial intelligence and education technology.

In a specialized masterclass, Tendai Pasipamire, Program Lead, and Design Thinking Facilitator at Innovate Durban, conducted a workshop on “Design Thinking Unleashed.” This session provided insights into the fusion of design thinking, AI, and machine learning in shaping genuine business value.

The festival concluded with the much-awaited panel discussion on FinTech Innovation which was presented and moderated by Impact & Innovation Specialist and MC for the day, Vuyolwethu Dubese. Featured on the panel discussion was the Chief Product Officer of the Durban Based Fintech giant iKhokha, Graeme Cumming, who shared insight on the importance of making fintech accessible to all. The panel explored innovative FinTech solutions promoting financial inclusion and accessibility.

"FinTech Innovation" panel discussion
“FinTech Innovation” panel discussion

Aurelia Albert, CEO of Innovate Durban, expressed gratitude during the vote of thanks. The festival drew to a close with a sense of accomplishment, leaving participants inspired and equipped with valuable insights.

Innovate Durban extends its appreciation to all speakers, sponsors, exhibitors, and delegates who contributed to the success of the 8th Innovation Festival with a special appreciation going to event partners, including Innovate Durban’s strategic partner eThekweni Municipality, event partners such as Durban-based fintech giant iKhokha, Innovate UK, and PC Training & Business College, as well as exhibit partners UKZN and the Technology Innovation Agency. Stay tuned to our socials for all the content and highlights from this unforgettable day.

Read More: Innovate Durban Pitching Den Showcases Innovative Startups in KwaZulu-Natal

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