The Legacy of the 2014 IASP Africa Division Conference
For a company that is still in its infancy and working hard to find its footing in the fiercely contested ‘beauty pageant’ for foreign direct investment (FDI), Botswana Innovation Hub put together a compelling bid for the 2014 International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation (IASP) Africa Division Conference and went on to successfully host the event. Appropriately themed, ‘Science and Technology Park’s expanding economic frontiers in Africa.’ The Director General of IASP Luis Sanz applauded the company for hosting a conference that achieved its primary goal of highlighting the role of science and technology parks as, “complex structures for professional innovation support and helping to achieve local and regional economic development objectives.”
The bid to host the conference was made a year earlier at the 30th annual IASP conference in Racife, Brazil and at the time Botswana Innovation Hub was an affiliate member of the worldwide network of science parks and areas of innovation. The affiliate member status was conferred on account of the fact that construction of the local science park had barely commenced, the company was still growing its active membership numbers and partnerships that offer professional innovation support and programmes that cultivate a vibrant innovation ecosystem.
The company’s ambitious bid and successful conference is a powerful declaration of its presence and statement of intent by the relatively new player in the global economic sphere and the use of science and technology parks as special purpose vehicles for economic diversification. Botswana Innovation Hub has been established as part of a game changing national ensemble that has been put together to play a key role in the country’s economic diversification drive. The company is set to transform Botswana into a technology-driven and knowledge-based economy through attraction of FDI in technology transfer and adaption, research commercialization and fostering a stronger national system of innovation and technology entrepreneurship development.
The success of the 2014 IASP Africa Division is a demonstration of the company’s resolve to play in the major league of the global economy and has left a lasting legacy for Botswana Innovation Hub. While the many benefits from conference attendance are hard to quantify, the local economic benefits of flights, lodging, subsistence and sale of art and craft are undeniable. There is also the networking, the opportunity to build new partnerships, strengthen innovation strategies and promote world-class research and the opportunity for the company to attract FDI inflows and spur knowledge-based economic growth.
The major outcome of the conference however came a month after the conference when Botswana Innovation Hub CEO Alan Boshwaen announced that the IASP Executive Board declared that it has bestowed full member credentials on Botswana Innovation Hub, “for its fulfilment of all conditions of being operational, including having active innovation programmes such as FSVC, MIC, Clean Tech, SAiS, making tangible progress in construction of the park and having an active member list comprising academic institutions, public and private sector partners, small and large businesses and a growing list of anchor tenants that have signed up to locate in the park.”
IASP membership confers full IASP accreditation on Botswana Innovation Hub, international visibility, global networking and access to a broad knowledge base with a formidable multiplier of resources and opportunities. It grants powers on the company to influence policy and the agenda of the global science and technology park association as well as engender transformation of the local economy to a technology driven and knowledge-based one that attracts the FDI flows and contributes to the country’s economic development and competitiveness.