Innovation is at the heart of Government’s National Development Plan and the 2017 Da Vinci Technology Top 100 (TT100) Business Innovation Awards, is in line with the National Development Plan’s (NDP) objective of turning South Africa into a high-growth, employment generating, knowledge-based economy.

This according to Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor, who addressed annual awards ceremony held at the Johannesburg Country Club last week.

The country’s top innovators received high praise from the Minister, who presented prizes at the event, which is a showcase of how South Africa is building an inclusive innovation system through growing support for grassroots innovators and developing local innovation.

The 2017 TT100 awards were held under the auspices of the Da Vinci Institute School of Managerial Leadership, which has partnered with the DST, MTN, and Eskom to make the TT100 innovation competition possible.

In total, 28 winners received trophies at the gala dinner, which was attended by business innovators, industry captains, government officials, researchers, and academics.

Delivering the keynote address, Minister Pandor, expressed her admiration for the quality of business innovation entries in this year’s competition, an achievement she has described as encouraging and

Minister Pandor said the long-standing alliance that the Department of Science and Technology (DST) has maintained with the TT100 awards programme was central to the ongoing efforts to strengthen public-private partnerships in support of South African technology-based businesses.

“Such partnerships not only enable awareness creation of business technology development initiatives and opportunities, but also profile the innovation prowess of SA tech companies to local and international markets.

“This is in line with the NDP's recognition of the importance of innovation as laying the foundations for more intensive improvements in business productivity and a more intensive national pursuit of the SA knowledge-based economy,” said Minister Pandor.

The TT100 awards programme has been running since 1991 and its aim is to promote the culture of innovation amongst large, medium, and small businesses.

“The objective of the TT100 awards is to promote the importance of developing an innovative management ecosystem, which can help boost innovation outputs in our companies in a manner that impacts positively on socio-economic development and the bottom lines of our companies, whether small, medium or big,” said Professor Bennie Anderson, CEO of the Da Vinci Institute School of Managerial Leadership.

 

There were 379 entries in the following 6 categories, i.e. management of technology; management of innovation; management of people; management of systems; sustainability and innovation concepts.

A total of 91 category finalists were selected following a rigorous face-to-face adjudication process, which culminated in a total of 28 category winners being selected as the top-performing innovators in 2017.

Four industry winners representing emerging, medium, small, and large enterprises were selected, who respectively received the DTS Director General Award and Minister Award for Overall Excellence.

“This year, we have added the Innovation Concepts category to assist in raising the profiles of innovators who have outstanding concepts, but don’t have the funding to commercialise their concepts.

“With the addition of this category to the TT100 awards programme, we are hoping to connect the innovators to venture capitalists and other potential funders to enable them to commercialise their concepts and take these promising ventures to the market,” said Professor Anderson.

The 2017 TT100 awards also received a resounding support from Kammy Young, Innovation COE Manager at Eskom, who concurs that the programme will go a long way towards driving socio-economic development in South Africa.

 “Innovation is one of Eskom’s values. We strive to embrace new processes and technology to improve business efficiencies, while investing in science, engineering, technology and innovation in the country, with the aim to grow the economy in support of socio-economic development,” said Young.

The TT100 programme provides enormous benefits to winners and finalists. TT100 participants receive intensive, customised feedback on how they manage technology, innovation, people and systems, enabling them to improve the way they operate their organisations.

Winners and finalists receive the additional benefit of becoming part of the TT100 community and being invited to participate in TT100 events, including business forums held jointly with government and partners involved in promoting business innovation, particularly the DST.