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SISTEM one-on-one with Tigele Mokobi, relations Officer of Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH): "BIH's triple-helix method intersects government, business and academia in the promotion of science, technology and innovation".

Tigele Mokobi

Tigele Mokobi is the Public Relations and Communications Manager at Botswana Innovation Hub responsible for developing, implementing and monitoring a communication strategy for the company. He is directly responsible for developing a communication strategy to guide the interface between the company and the various publics in its environment as well as coordinating all communication activities at the company. His responsibilities include developing and protecting the company’s service brand equity and reputation by initiating interventions to mitigate threats to its corporate image. Over the years, he has amassed broad managerial experience in the communications field gained from within the corporate, academic, international multilateral organization and the public sector environment. He also has extensive hands-on experience as a practitioner in the fields that manage both internal and external information flows gained from the Botswana Government, the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the University of Fort Hare, Kgalagadi Breweries and Canon Office Automation to mention a few. His line of work requires him to foster a robust relationship with the media fraternity and this has assisted a lot in his involvement in the creation of innovative value-added transformation of entities
into dynamic market-oriented enterprises and organizations with favorable corporate and market images. His experience here extends to driving marketing strategies that cover revamping of front desk services, Corporate Social Investment (CSI), events management and aggressive advocacy and public education campaigns and promotions.

Q: Please tell us about the Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH): how and why was it created, its goals, services and partners.

Mokobi : Botswana Innovation Hub was conceived out of the Botswana Excellence Strategy of 2008 which proposed a three-pronged national strategic goal; being economic diversification, job creation, and moving the country towards a knowledge-based economy. Botswana Innovation Hub which is also aligned to the National Vision 2016’s pillar of achieving a prosperous, productive and innovative nation aims to develop advanced Science and Technology innovation capital and activities in the country by attracting innovators, channeling the requisite support services and conditioning the investment climate. Botswana Innovation Hub is incorporated as a company under the laws of Botswana to develop and manage Botswana’s first Science and Technology Park through which it will contribute to the country’s economic development and competitiveness by creating new scientific, technological, and indigenous knowledge-based business opportunities. The company fosters entrepreneurship and technology transfer to develop start-up companies and add value to existing companies, generates knowledge-based jobs and attract innovative companies and institutions to Botswana Innovation Hub.

Q: Can you elaborate on the Botswana Innovation Hub's Focal Sectors?

Mokobi : Botswana Innovation Hub has selected to focus on the following sectors: Information, Communications Technology and ICT enabled services; Energy and Environment (Clean Technology); Mining Technologies and Beneficiation; Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS); and Biotechnology

Q: Please share a few words about the Botswana Innovation Hub's innovation programs?

Mokobi : Botswana Innovation Hub has moved from strategy formulation to strategy execution. The company established a Board of Directors complete with a Board Charter, and developed an effective governance framework, processes and policies to deliver on the Botswana Innovation Hub offering. The company continues to strengthen human capital that is necessary to support and enhance innovation capacity and continue to recruit the right people to deliver on the innovation agenda. The implementation of the Botswana Innovation Hub initiative is guided by its 2013 - 2016 Strategic Plan. The company has increased focus on implementing priority commercially driven and innovation support projects in the current year. Some of the major on-going projects include construction of the central Icon Building which will enhance substantial scaling up of intended innovation support programmes. In order to foster entrepreneurship, enhance innovation capacity and create job opportunities, Botswana Innovation Hub has in place a total of five innovation support programmes, namely Microsoft Innovation Centre, Southern African Innovation Support Programme (SAiS), Technology Transfer Office, First Steps Venture Centre(FSVC), Clean-Tech Centre and Cyber City Kgotla. These programmes are accessible to individual and institutional clients from the public and private sector and are aimed at fostering collaboration between Academia and business in designated priority economic sectors.

Q: What is the Science and Technology Park?

Mokobi : A Science and Technology Park is an area managed in a manner designed to promote innovation. It is a physical place that supports university-industry and government collaboration with the intent of creating high technology economic development and advancing knowledge. The parks offer a number of shared resources, such as incubators, programs and collaboration activities, uninterruptible power supply, telecommunications hubs, reception and security, management offices, restaurants, bank offices, convention center, parking, internal transportation, entertainment and sports facilities, etc. In this way, the park offers considerable advantages to hosted companies.

Q: How do Botswana and other African countries (namely those in the Southern region of the continent) benefit from the Botswana Innovation Hub?

Mokobi : Botswana Innovation Hubs efforts to build a conducive environment for nurturing Science, Technology and Innovation will be complemented by the efforts of other countries in the region and the continent. This will ultimately create a critical mass and advance the socio-economic development of the continent for the benefit of all.

Q: Technology, innovation and entrepreneurship often go hand in hand in economic development and nation building, please tell us in your opinion how do Botswana specifically and Africa by extension stand and measure in these 3 respective areas?

Mokobi : The model adopted by Botswana Innovation Hubs is called the triple-helix method which brings together government, business and academia in the creation of a conducive eco-system for the promotion of Science, Technology and Innovation. Government is responsible for the policy framework within which business and academia operate. Academia is responsible for research and development (R&D) and business is responsible for commercializing innovations and technologies that emerge from the park.

Q: Recently the Botswana Innovation Hub has been granted full membership status by the International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation (IASP). How does this membership impact the Botswana Innovation Hub's daily dealings and future opportunities?

Mokobi : Botswana Innovation Hub has been granted full membership of International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation (IASP). The full membership status raises Botswana Innovation Hubs profile amongst the approximately 400 high profile members from similar establishments across the world. As one of the leading Science and Technology Park (STP) establishments in Africa along with The Innovation Hub in South Africa and Abuja Technology Village in Nigeria, we were impressed by the status. IASP is a worldwide network of science parks and areas of innovation which connects professionals managing science, technology and research parks and other areas of innovation. IASP provides services that drive growth and effectiveness for its members.

Q: Can you please share any obstacles or challenges that the Botswana Innovation Hub faced or faces? How did you or intend to overcome them?

Mokobi : Botswana Innovation Hub has experienced teething problems in setting up the some of the procedures designed to make it easier to set up business in Botswana and in the establishment of the Innovation Fund. The company is working on these and hopes to have them resolved in the shortest possible time. The Innovation Fund Board Trust has been established. The Fund once fully operational will provide access to seed finance for qualifying local technology oriented business to assist in their technology commercialization and innovation support.

Q: What academic and professional advice do you have for students and young professionals (including entrepreneurs) interested in STEM, business, economy and medicine? What tips and lessons you like to share for them to overcome adversity and reach their goals successfully?

Mokobi : I advise students to take up science and mathematics as the subjects are essential for pursuing a career in STEM, business and medicine.

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