Creating cities of opportunity for South Africans are shaped by fostering enabling environments and by inspiring innovation. Local and international speakers addressed these topics at the SA Innovation Summit 2016 lead-up event, the High Impact Series, which took place on Tuesday, 16 August 2016 at Workshop 17, V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. Pictured from left to right is Thomas Wittig (CEO of WITTIGONIA, Switzerland), Abbas Jamie (Director of Innovation at Aurecon Africa), Aurelia Albert (Innovate Durban), Dr Morne Mostert (Director, Institute for Futures Research), Lance Greyling (Director of Trade and Investment, City of Cape Town) and Lesley Williams (Master of Ceremonies).
“The question that needs answering is what can we do with what we have to make a difference and create a city of opportunity? By bringing together thought-leaders, innovators, enablers and industry leaders at the High Impact Series, the discussion has started around co-creating and moving South Africa’s beautiful Mother City forward,” said SA Innovation Summit Chairperson, Dr Audrey Verhaeghe.
Creative approaches, innovative thinking and working towards social transformation were all topics at the top of the agenda for the day. “To innovate is to change one’s perspective. Creativity is all about attitude and what I have come to learn is that to be able to think out of the box, one needs to be out of the box and venture into unfamiliar areas to find new inspiration,” explained Martijn Aslander, well-known Funtrepreneur and Life hacker from The Netherlands, during his discussion on Value Thinking.
Talking about urbanisation and finding creative yet appropriate solutions to bring together divided cities, Abbas Jamie, Director of Innovation at Aurecon Africa, commented: “We need to reflect on alternative roadmaps for the future to address poverty and inequality in South Africa. It is important to move away from working in silos when developing towns and cities, rather focusing on integrated development to offer unique African solutions.”
In order to address silo thinking, how businesses and communities think about development and problem solving needs to change. “New developments trigger new and unfamiliar dynamics, and the challenge is to bring about transformation amidst existing resources and infrastructure that might not be optimal. Therefore, to bring about innovation and creative thinking, people’s mental models need to evolve,” explained Thomas Wittig, CEO of WITTIGONIA.
Aurelia Albert from Innovate Durban shared success stories achieved by making the youth part of solving problems within their own communities. “Our aim is to drive programmes that will provide solutions to social ills. Our competitions and ongoing support have led to many creative ideas being implemented that are bringing about change in our communities.”
The day ended with a thought-provoking panel discussion focusing on what a city of opportunity means, how to attract skilled minds, bringing corporate businesses and SMMEs together and how to unleash innovation. “The best way to unleash innovation is to not talk about risk and problems, but rather opportunities. As soon as we think problem, our mind starts to eliminate possibilities. Don’t focus on the problem, but rather think about where the opportunity is and what needs to be done to get there. There is always more than one possibility, and the same future can be achieved in many ways,” said Dr Morne Mostert, Director: Institute for Futures Research.
Putting ideas into practice, the SA Innovation Summit hosted a 24-hour Hackathon from 19 to 20 August 2016 at The Barn Khayelitsha, Lookout Hill Centre, in Cape Town. “Bringing together the community to ignite and accelerate change, as well as linking idea makers with funders and service providers that can take their ideas to the market, are main goals of this Hackathon,” commented Verhaeghe.
Caption: SA Innovation Summit Chairperson, Dr Audrey Verhaeghe discussing the purpose and vision of the 24-hour Hackathon that took place in Khayelitsha from 19 to 20 August 2016.
Teams that participated in the Hackathon were challenged to find solutions to four key challenges, namely: to alleviate crime, improve access to clean water and sanitation, care for the elderly and improvement of settlements in the area.
What is important is to take the needs of the community into consideration when formulating solutions. This Hackathon used the design thinking approach to ensure that the ideas shared, will be applicable when taken to the communities,” explained Lisa Parkes from the Cape Craft and Design Institute (CCDI).
For more information on the 2016 SA Innovation Summit taking place from 21 to 24 September 2016 in Ekurhuleni, please visit http://www.innovationsummit.co.za/, email email@example.com call +27(0)82 708 1960.