Windhoek-The Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) has launched its 2017 Innovation Awards, a sister to the annual Good Business Awards. The Good Business Awards are selected from the ranks of DBN clients, but the Innovation Awards are open to public entry.
Talking about the purpose of the Innovation Awards, DBN senior communication manager Jerome Mutumba says that Namibia is fertile ground for innovation with an environment that can find value in good ideas that transform enterprises and processes. This creates an environment in which innovation can be recognised and rewarded.
Namibia, Mutumba says, still has to mature as an environment for innovation. In spite of a strong institutional environment, processes and ideas are still imported from across the border.
The Innovation Awards seek to showcase the best of Namibian ideas and make them accessible for additional sources of finance and further development.
The 2017 Innovation Awards continue the quest for ideas that can transform the NDP5 sectors on which DBN focuses: manufacturing, tourism, and transport and logistics.
However, Mutumba stresses the awards are also focused on innovation that provide solutions to economic priorities such as generation and distribution of electricity, provision of affordable land, housing and water.
Transformation of Namibian raw materials, and innovative processes that improve enterprise efficiency will also receive favourable attention.
Ideas, Mutumba says, should be supported by detailed descriptions of the innovation, as well as marketing plans and forecasts. He adds that enterprises with plans for innovation can also enter.
Ideas will be judged by a panel of independent experts, as well as experts from DBN.
In addition to a cash grant for further development of the idea, Mutumba dangles the prospect of further assistance from DBN through its Project Preparation Fund for ideas with exceptional development impact potential.
The DBN Project Preparation Fund is deployed to develop marketability and financial preparedness for projects that are deemed to have an extremely strong development impact.
Asked about ownership of intellectual property, Mutumba says that ownership belongs to the project proposer. The bank’s interest lies in bringing the benefit of the innovation to Namibia, as well as ensuring that the owner of the idea prospers.
Previous winners have included cosmetic manufacturer Kiyomisandz and insurance product Eenda Nawa, which is distributed by SMS.
At the same time as the Innovation Awards, DBN will also host the Good Business Awards. These recognise excellence on the part of SMEs and larger enterprises financed by the bank, and excellent administration and development impact.
Nominees for the Good Business Awards are selected within the bank and winners are selected by a panel of independent experts.