The Harare Institute of Technology (HIT) scooped 5 awards at the Inaugural Presidential Innovation Fair, which was officiated by the President Dr Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa at the Harare International Conference Centre (HICC) from the 19th to the 20th of April 2023.
The University was awarded the Presidential Innovation Award for the Best Innovating University, Best Innovation in ICT for the Matsimba Technologies, Best Collaborative Research/ Innovation undertaken by industry and academia (LADS – HIT and Several Local Authorities), Second Best Innovation in Health for Medical Devices Manufacturing and First Runner-up Award for Best Woman Innovator, Dean Eucaria Mushosho for her innovation on the production of Ultra-sound gel.
The awards were in recognition of the Institute’s outstanding innovations. Running under the theme, “Innovation Excellence for Vision 2030 and Beyond,” the Presidential Innovation Fair was aimed at showcasing current innovations and technologies by institutions that have, and will contribute to improving Zimbabwe’s resilience by providing technologies, goods and services that Zimbabwe wants. The Fair was also targeted at building an innovation ecosystem that promotes knowledge generation and technology production for economic development. Its main objective is to create a platform for engagement among Government, industry, innovators, researchers and development stakeholders as well as attracting local and international investment in innovation.
The two-day event was organised by the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation Science and Technology Development to award outstanding universities, colleges, Government scientific agencies and industrial training centres for their innovations. The fair will be held annually and is targeted at building and reinforcing a thriving innovation ecosystem through exhibitions and expos of current work from tertiary institutions, while attracting venture capital, both local and international, in an environment which permits ideas sharing, benchmarking and standardisation of initiatives. The Presidential Innovation Fair, which is a brainchild of the President saw 35 institutions of higher and tertiary education, Government scientific agencies and industrial training centres participating.
President Mnangagwa challenged institutions of higher and tertiary education to take the lead in innovations aimed at producing goods and services in line with the “Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo/Ilizwe lakhiwa ngabanikazi balo” mantra. “My Government is in the process of implementing various policies and programmes which have seen our economy transitioning from stabilisation to growth,” said President Mnangagwa.
“In order to maintain this momentum, my Government is investing in innovation and industrialisation. Given the shift from concentrating on the teaching of theory to practicals and entrepreneurship, our various institutions of higher and tertiary education should be torch bearers of innovations aimed at producing quality goods and services,” he said. President Mnangagwa added that in order to beat the effects of the illegal sanctions imposed on the country by the West over 20 years ago, it was necessary to fast-track the country’s industrialisation and modernisation through science, technology and innovation and changing of mindsets, dubbed “Chimurenga chepfungwa”.
“In this regard, it is encouraging that, through the innovation hubs and industrial parks, our institutions of higher learning are nurturing start-ups, registering a record number of patents as well as developing prototypes.The start-ups should not perennially remain in the innovation hubs. They should graduate to become profitable and employment creating organisations that produce quality products, provide value for end-users and the quality of life of our people,” he added.
The President pledged continued government support for start-ups as they unlock the human potential necessary for Zimbabwe to become a global superpower. Government has set up Innovation Hubs at higher and tertiary institutions in all the country’s 10 provinces so that they lead in the production of goods.
President Mnangagwa said the innovation hubs were the only way to transform people’s lives. “Benefiting from the Heritage Based 5.0 model, Zimbabwe has achieved tremendous milestones that have completely changed our nation’s innovation landscape. “Last year, we managed to launch ZimSat-1, our first ever satellite, into orbit. This milestone was achieved by our own scientists and engineers from the Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency using our own resources. The launch is a milestone expected to enhance mineral exploration, environmental monitoring, as well as mapping of human settlements and disease outbreaks, among other capabilities,” he said.
President Mnangagwa added that the Presidential Innovations Fair, which will become an annual event, will in future incorporate players from the private sector, Zimbabweans in the Diaspora and others from the region.
The President also toured stands at the Fair. “I am so happy that after introducing innovation hubs in all our State universities, every product and service coming from those hubs will improve our economy. “Every country grows if it invests in science and technology; that’s why we are investing in science and technology. ‘Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo/Ilizwe lakhiwa ngabanikazi balo’. Our boys and girls in institutions of higher education must produce the products which our communities want. I have no doubt that Zimbabwe is on track to develop and catch up with the rest of the world,” he said.“We shall leap-frog our development, modernisation and industrialisation as a result of our own young boys and girls who are talented,” said President Mnangagwa.
The President handed awards to various institutions in 17 categories, with Verify Engineering winning the overall prize of the best innovation, for producing medical oxygen which was critical in the fight against Covid-19. In his remarks during the event, the Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Honourable General (Rtd) Dr. C. D. G. N. Chiwenga commended the shift towards a mindset of innovation and industrialisation in the new generation of thinkers inspired by the Education 5.0 philosophy. “To date, universities have produced more than enough sanitizers for the nation,” he said.
Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development, Professor dr. Amon Murwira also highlighted that by launching the Education 5.0 doctrine, President Mnangagwa inaugurated the ‘Chimurenga Chepfungwa’ journey to spur the development of the country. “Correct education is that which gives appropriate knowledge, skills and attitudes,” said Professor dr. Murwira.