TIA is a national public entity that is intended to serve as the key institutional intervention to bridge the innovation chasm between R&D from higher education institutions, science councils, public entities, the private sector and commercialisation.
Its mandate is unique because TIA is the only fully state-funded organisation responsible for bridging the gap with interventions to support technology development from proof of concept to technology demonstration. The Agency was established against the backdrop of a fragmented National System of Innovation (NSI) and represented government’s efforts to consolidate the system. The enactment of the Technology Innovation Act, 2008 (Act No. 26 of 2008), has been largely predicated on supporting innovation expected to spur industrial expansion, small and medium enterprise (SME) development, trade and investment to contribute to the growth of the economy.
The move to establish TIA was influenced by:
- The need for a deepening of economic development policy towards a knowledge-driven economy.
- The need to promote a closer coordination of the various instruments that are geared towards innovation in South Africa.
TIA’s role in the innovation value chain
TIA scouts for new ideas through open innovation initiatives and plays the following roles in response to current gaps and weaknesses in the NSI:
- A connector: TIA catalyses partnerships between SMEs, industries, universities and science councils to develop an enabled environment supporting sector-specific innovations for global competitiveness.
- An active funder: TIA provides risk funding and support for innovators to progress ideas towards market entry and commercialisation.
- A facilitator: TIA attracts and facilitates late-stage funding (companies, industries, venture capital firms, and development finance institutions) for the commercialisation of market-ready technologies.
- A service provider: TIA reduces barriers of access to expensive high-end skills and equipment for innovators by repositioning technology stations and platforms as core TIA product offerings.
Playing a key role in the de-risking of technology offerings in the NSI, TIA welcomes the launch of the Innovation Bridge and hopes that new partnerships will be forged to ultimately take South African innovations to the marketplace.