17 October 2018
POSTAL and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) yesterday held an information and communication technologies innovators workshop in the capital.
The workshop focused on business proposal preparation and protection of intellectual property rights.
It was designed to equip prospective applicants of the Innovation Drive with the necessary knowledge and skills to prepare bankable business proposals.
The authority which previously held a similar workshop in Bulawayo had a number of speakers educating the innovators.
ICT innovators workshop was addressed by Potraz Director of Finance Biggie Chipiranhura on behalf of Potraz Director General Dr Gift Muchengete.
“The Authority has received numerous complaints from innovators who claim that their ideas were stolen by well-established and powerful corporation.
“The workshop aims at providing innovators with knowledge and skills to protect their Intellectual Property Rights,” said Chipanhaura.
Innovators workshop will help and lead to an improvement in the quality of applicants received for support under the ICT Innovation Drive resulting in an increased number of people accessing funding under the programme.
“We are disheartened by the low number of applicants that are qualifying for funding, most applicants are failing to make it during evaluation and one of the reasons being the failure of the applicants to bring out the innovativeness in the proposals.
“Only a handful of applicants have been able to access funding under the drive.
“This has resulted in the ICT Innovation Drive failing to achieve its intended objective of motivating our youths to innovate to their fullest,” Chiparanhura said.
Protraz will consider other forms of support under the Innovation Drive.
“We are also cognisant of the fact that, not all applicants failed because there were of poor quality. Some of the applicants received could not qualify for the sole reason that they did not fall within the current structure of the Innovation Drive.
“The innovation Drive operates as a revolving fund that assists beneficiaries by extending loans for their different projects.
“As a result, only proposals which showed potential to repay the loan were considered for funding.
“We are reviewing the structure of ICT Innovation Drive to include hackathons were innovators are given the opportunity to showcase their ideas, develop them into prototypes.
“Those with bankable prototypes are provided with seed capital, in the form of Grants, to develop their ideas further, into tangible solutions.
The Authority is considering to identify existing Innovation hubs and establishing them, whose operations will be sponsored by the Innovation Drive through paying for rentals and other utilizes like electricity and water thereby availing co-working space to more innovators.
“Such facilities will provide incubation services by availing professionals who will mentor and provide different services to the innovators.
“This way, we believe, we can increase the number of innovators benefiting from ICT Innovation Drive, as opposed to the provision of loans which can only benefit a few,” Chiparanhura said.