Democratisation of Innovation and what it means for Africa

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Enabling democratisation of technology

Through energy comes wider access to communication and the ability to participate in global conversations through online connectivity. This in turn nurtures creativity, innovation and economic growth.

Traditionally, the journey from ‘idea’ to ‘successful product or business’ is a complicated process involving business cases, pitches for funding to build a prototype, raising capital investment for production and testing, wading through patent approvals and trademark law. While many of these steps are still crucial once you have a working prototype, the democratisation of technology makes it easier for inventors and entrepreneurs to develop their ideas. SME’s are vital economic drivers and making it easier for them to compete will benefit the economy as a whole.

Digital twinning is one example that streamlines the production process. A digital twin is a virtual representation of a physical product or process, used to understand and predict the physical counterpart’s performance characteristics. Digital twins are used throughout the product lifecycle to simulate, predict, and optimise the product and production system before investing in physical prototypes and assets.

This means innovators can test their products in the virtual world and refine it before ever needing to raise money for testing. Real-life testing is still vital with most products, but with digital twinning you can get your product as close to perfect in the virtual world in order to save time and costs when it comes to the final real-life test phase. In many ways this agility levels the playing field giving small, developing companies (and countries) the same opportunities as their bigger and more established counterparts.

Siemens also offers this technology free to universities. Students have access to a free version of the same easy-to-use software suite used by professionals. In addition to free software, we provide tutorials, webinars, online courses and certification to help them develop their skills.

Breaking down barriers

Through access to technology anyone, anywhere, has the opportunity to create a thriving business or economy. Across Africa it can play a large role in the empowerment of women and youth development.

One example is our Siemens Fabric campaign, which was set on the global stage, but all the fabric produced for the initiative was made by a small female-owned business situated in Alexandra, Gauteng. Legae Larona Sewing Cooperative in Alex now forms part of the Siemens Enterprise Development programme.

This is where you start seeing the results of the democratisation of technology – when an innovator from a small community in a developing nation has the same access to opportunity as those operating from high-tech offices in the first world. It’s not yet a perfect system, but through the clever use of technology we can exponentially increase access to opportunity.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Siemens AG.

By Sabine Dall’Omo, CEO of Siemens Southern and Eastern Africa

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