60% of South Africans are innovators, prompts $14k competition


Six out of 10 South Africans claim to be innovators, and half believe their product will be the next big thing in industry, according to a poll by Philips, prompting the launch of a ZAR200,000 (US$14,881) innovation competition.

The recently concluded Philips South Africa’s Innovation Research study aimed to gauge South Africans’ perceptions of innovation, the barriers to innovation, and areas where successful innovation can improve communities and lives.

The survey found six out of 10 respondents felt they are innovators; while 20 per cent feel that they are not reliant on others to come up with creative solutions to challenges.

46 per cent of respondents feel that their idea will be the next big thing in their industry.

More than half of respondents – 54 per cent – feel that innovation should improve lives, whilst 36 per cent think that innovation should make daily life easier and more efficient.

When asked which sectors could benefit most from innovation in South Africa, the survey found 64 per cent of respondents see healthcare as a crucial sector; 34 per cent said education; and 24 per cent feel health should be the area of focus.

On the other hand, lack of access to capital was named as the single biggest barrier to innovation in South Africa, with since 57 per cent of respondents agreeing. Other barriers named included lack of infrastructure, cited by 29 per cent; and the failure to encourage innovation within corporate structures was named by 23 per cent. 16 per cent stated that there is a lack of financial reward or benefit to generating innovative ideas.

Looking at the best ways to support innovators, 42 per cent of respondents feel that financial support from big companies will help local innovation, while  31 per cent feel that government has a role to play through providing incentives.

20 per cent of respondents said the availability of mentors for innovators would also boost innovation, and 14 per cent said the prevailing corporate culture needs to be changed to make place for creative thinkers.

On the basis of the results of the survey, Philips has announced a partnership with Pretoria’s Innovation Hub for the launch of the first Innovation Fellows competition, looking to unlock local solutions in the healthcare sector.

Innovators stand the chance to win ZAR200 000 (US$14,881) as a research and development budget for the next big idea in improving access to primary healthcare.

Application information is available here.



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Inspired and excited by the African tech entrepreneurial scene, Gabriella spends her time travelling around the continent to report on the most innovative tech startups, the most active investors, and the latest trends emerging in the ecosystem.

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