Earlier this month, Wayne Aronson from Technetium, a past winner from TT100 facilitated a session attended by a few top representatives from the DST. The objective of the session was to meet with the DST and focus on what can be done to facilitate engagements between innovative organisations and the DST.
A few points were debated including the current position and challenges faced by organisations in South Africa as well as suggested ideas put forward to the DST to aid start-up companies in South Africa regarding grants, tax breaks and funding.
Technetium related their experiences from when they commenced trading, stating that they had missed out on funding and tax breaks due to ignorance. From the discussions, it was found that there are initiatives in place which in fact, do help start-up companies in South Africa, but the benefit thereof is missed because companies are generally unaware that they are available.
Ms Cristina Pinto, Chief Director, Department of Science and Technology, responded by stating that there are organisations that host workshops for start-up businesses and she offered to facilitate access to these. It was also noted that small businesses will continue to play an important role regarding the growth of the South African economy.
Around the question of initiatives and funding, the DST discussed the R&D initiative which they make available to support technology development within an organisation in South Africa. A suggestion was to set up a workshop for all those interested, to explain the processes involved in becoming part of this initiative.
Another finding from this session was that there is a lot of support available for SMMEs from other organisations particularly the DTI. There seem however to be a lack of communication and a general lack of awareness about the resources available to businesses in South Africa. The DST is currently working on a project which will aid this challenge.
A second session is to be set up including a panel from the DTI, as well as the DST for further discussion around initiatives available from both parties regarding the development and support of SMMEs.