Science takes the spotlight

South Africa’s young scientists and innovators take centre stage later this month when the International Science, Innovation and Technology Exhibition (Insite) 2008 opens at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.

Taking place from September 15 to 17, Insite acts as a platform to showcase the country’s rich science and technology potential and is driven by the Department of Science and Technology.

“We need to actively showcase and ‘advertise’ our mission through local and international businesses involved in research and development,” said the department’s Director General, Dr Phil Mjwara, at a recent briefing session for Insite 2008. He paid tribute to the role of the country’s local innovators and inventors.

“Several years ago it was decided that an effective way to draw the attention of the national and global business community and the general public to the country’s science and technology and innovative endeavours, was to hold an international exhibition.

The stage was set for Africa’s first science exhibition — Insite 2004,” said Mjwara.

Insite’s exhibitors come from all over the world and offer progressive solutions for many of the world’s critical problems, demonstrating the practical application of innovation, science and technology.

Inspiring exhibits and interactive workshops help to create a vision of what the future may hold and highlight ways to help solve global crises by focusing on issues such as renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions.

But perhaps more than anything Insite offers South Africa’s science and technology fundis the opportunity to network and share ideas, helping the nation to stay abreast of the latest international research and development.

This meeting of minds is essential if South Africa is to develop a competitive, sustainable, fast-growing economy. Knowledge, innovation and productivity are key to building a firm competitive industrial base in South Africa.

But the National Research Foundation (NRF) says the capacity for science and technology in South Africa has not been adequately translated into innovative and dynamic businesses.

“For this to be achieved, South Africa needs to embrace the current critical skills shortage in the science, engineering and technology sector,” says Mjwara.

“It is hoped that Insite 2008 will address some of these issues.”

The overarching theme for this year’s exhibition will be the role of science as a key driver of economic growth and sustainable development.

“Commenting on the exhibition, Minister of Science and Technology, Mosibudi Mangena, expressed his department’s confidence that Insite 2008 will be more than just a technology showcase.

“It will result in further fruitful science and technology partnerships for the region,” Mjwara said in his speech.

“It’s become a tradition that at Insite, the Professor Phillip Tobias’s Lecture will take place,”said Mjwara.

“The lecture honours Professor Tobias’s contribution to the sciences of palaeo-anthropology and genetics through anatomical studies. The lecture will be delivered by the winner of the Phillip Tobias Award, selected from a pool of world-renowned scientists,” said Mjwara.

Running parallel with Insite 2008 will be the International Association of Science Parks’ (IASP) 25th World Conference. The theme of the conference is “The role of science parks in accelerating knowledge economy growth — a contrast between developed and emerging countries”.

Insite visitors and exhibitors will have the opportunity to view and compare regional and international science and technology expertise and to link up with the vast number of international IASP members that will attend its conference.

“By staging Insite 2008 with such a prominent global conference, we will go some way to bridging the gap between developing and emerging economies and share best practices. It is only through a competitive economic strategy that we can ensure the relevance of South Africa in the African and international community,” said Mjwara.

The Bio2Biz conference, which will take place alongside Insite and the IASP conference, is organised by BioPAD and focuses on the very specialised bio-sciences and biotechnology. More than 5 000 delegates are expected to attend Bio2Biz.

What Insite is all about
The International Science, Innovation and Technology Exhibition (Insite) provides an international showcase for innovative science and technology solutions to some of the world’s most pressing social and economic challenges.

Driven by South Africa’s department of science and technology, Insite demontrates these progressive solutions by showcasing the practical applications of world-leading innovation, science and technology and creating a vision of what the future holds.

Some of the world’s leading innovators and scientists will gather at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg from September 15 to 17 to network and exchange ideas and collectively problem-solve.

For more information on Insite 2008, visit

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Sharon Van Wyk
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