Government through the Ministry of Science and Technology has handed over K12 million grants to 21 researchers and innovators as an empowerment initiative to boost them from their current level to be true startups who will realise their projects.
This came to light during the National Technology Business Center and National Science and Technology Council joint awards ceremony which was officiated by Technology and Science Minister Felix Mutati.
Speaking at the event, Mr Mutati said the ministry through the National Technology Business Center and National Science and Technology Council said through this process of empowering innovators as well as researchers, the country will be able to rebuild its economy.
Mr Mutati said he has been persuaded to believe that all the problems the country faces can be resolved locally through science, research, technology and innovation and therefore, government role will be to boost Zambians with the financial resource for them to effectively operate.
And Mr Mutati said the skills development fund under the ministry this year alone will be boosted by K200 million while the Small and Medium Enterprise empowerment process by the government will have K350 million for the year 2022 alone.
Mr Mutati said this empowerment is a symbol that the New Dawn administration is moving away from consumption expenditure to investing in the people in order for them to make a difference in innovation, science, technology and research instead of focusing the resources on consumption expenditure.
“What the New Dawn government is saying is that, we own the responsibility to rebuild the economy, we own the programs and we have the human resource with capabilities to answer to the challenges that we have. There is no shortage of creativity in this country as it is in abundance” Mr Mutati said.
The minister said going forward, government will be creating jobs through science, technology, research and innovation as this is the supreme currency of transformation.
The 21 innovators and researchers who were awarded grants included categories such as; researchers under the strategic research fund, youth innovators under the science and technology innovation youth fund and innovators under the technology business development fund.
The total value of the 2021/2022 Strategic Research Fund awarded yesterday was K7,328,671 which will go towards research and development in the areas of agriculture, forestry, industry, mining, energy, environment and health while the Science and Technology Innovation Youth Fund’s total value was K1,000,000 focusing on innovations around ICT, new and emerging technologies transport systems and infrastructure among others.
And the Technology Business Development Fund’s total value was K3,383,351 targeting early stage start-ups with prototypes and products in agro-processing that includes innovative non-alcoholic beverages, grain milling, innovative extruded flours and meals.
Mr Mutati added that the New Dawn Government attaches great importance to science, technology and innovation as endeavours of collective action is evidenced by the resources disbursed for purposes of commercialising the projects from researchers and innovators.