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Around the World in TBED

May 16, 2012

As global economies shift, developing nations are attempting to transition as suppliers of raw materials to nations that are producers of value-added goods. Africa has been a major supplier of raw materials to the developed world. However, it drastically lagged behind in the production of valued-added goods. Recently, African nations have attempted to reinvent their economic development efforts from suppliers to producers by developing programs to grow tech-based economies. Two recent initiatives, the LIONS@FRICA Partnership and South Africa's manufacturing incentives program, highlight the changing attitudes on the continent. In addition, a new survey of European business leaders found discouraging results relative to European Union policies to improve innovation.

LIONS@FRICA Partnership
In partnership with the U.S Department of State and other U.S. agencies, the World Economic Forum, the African Development Bank and other partners launched a new partnership to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in Africa. The Liberalizing Innovation Opportunity Nations (LIONS@FRICA) partnership seeks to mobilize the knowledge, expertise and resources of leading public and private institutions to encourage and enhance Africa's innovation ecosystem and to spur entrepreneurship across the continent. Through the LIONS@FRICA partnership, African startups will receive several services including:

  • A series of programs across the continent featuring promising African startups and entrepreneurs;
  • Venture capital roundtables;
  • Innovation bootcamps; and,
  • Startup Weekend events in over 20 African cities.

LIONS@FRICA also will launch the first-ever DEMO Africa, a global platform to connect African startups to the global ecosystem. It will allow the most innovative African companies to launch their products. Visit the LIONS@FRICA website...

South Africa
The South African government announced a new six-year R5.75 billion (approximately $702 million) manufacturing incentives program to boost South Africa's manufacturing sector. The nation's Department of Trade and Industry intends for the program to help the country's manufacturers to become more competitive in the increasingly global economy. The program is made up of six grant types including:

  • Capital investment grants to help cover up to 50 percent of an upgrade of capital equipment and expand productive capacity;
  • Green technology upgrading grants that will cover up to 50 percent of an investment in a technology and/or a process that will make the production process greener;
  • Enterprise-level competitiveness improvement grants to support up to 70 percent of an investment in the adoption of improved manufacturing practices;
  • Feasibility studies grants to cover up to 70 percent of the development of a cost-sharing grants towards developing a feasibility study for new manufacturing projects; and,
  • Cluster initiatives grant to help fund up to 80 percent of shared infrastructure project, such as a sector technology development center, market research, international advertising and publicity costs.

To avoid fraud, qualified business will be allowed to receive only one grant award over the life of the program. Read the press release...

European Union
Seventy-three percent of European business leaders are unaware of European Union (EU) polices to improve innovation, according to a new survey from by Ernst & Young and the Centre for European Policy Studies — The Power of Simplicity. In addition, 69 percent believe innovation policy in the EU has not matched industry needs. The study surveyed 680 business leaders from 15 EU member states, many of whom were presidents or c-level executives at their respective firms. According to the report, The EU innovation polices face five challenges:

  • Innovation policy is too complicated;
  • The widening funding gap between public and private Research &Development;
  • A lack of sectoral competitiveness by knowledge industries and information technology issues;
  • Inadequate infrastructure; and,
  • Limited financing due to financial markets that are disjointed and varied regulation across boarders.

The report also provides several recommendations to address these problems. Read the press release...

Internationalentrepreneurship, manufacturing, policy recommendations