POTRAZ’s ICT Innovation Drive Gets Into Second Phase, But There Are Still Some Unanswered Questions

   

POTRAZ has begun calling for startups and ‘ICT innovators’ to apply for the second phase of their funding program; The Zimbabwe ICT Innovation Drive.

What’s the Innovation Drive about?

According to POTRAZ, the drive is meant to empower innovators that are making technological advancements in various sectors, whilst creating employment and boosting economic growth. We alluded to the broader aims of the Innovation Drive in this article.

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The ad calling for applications for the second phase states:

Are you an ICT Innovator, Start-up, Innovation Hub or entrepreneur with a life changing ICT ?

POTRAZ is calling upon you to submit your business proposal for possible funding.

Applicants can apply for funding at the Innovation drive website.

As the Innovation Drive gets into the second phase there are still a few baffling things that have not been addressed clearly…

How is the $7 million being accounted for?

This is the most critical detail and yet it has not been shared. Transparency is vital in any issue where government funds are being dispersed. Without clear indication of how the funds are being allocated it is difficult to actually know if the funds are being used to provide solutions in the country or if they are being abused.

Another reason why we are anxious to know how the funds are being allocated is because back in 2016 when the innovation drive was announced they had allocated $25 million to the drive but now the figure was shifted to $7 million without a clear explanation.

Academia as judges… really?

When the first round of winners was announced Dr Machengete, said most of the adjudication (when it came to actually awarding the prizes) was done by academia. The question that we posed before and one we still pose today is: are these guys ‘in touch’ enough to actually judge what innovation is and who innovators are?

Secondly, do these guys also understand startups enough to make informed choices as to which innovators and startups are actually worthy of funding? Are bankers and investors not more informed when it comes to these issues?

Bias? Maybe… Maybe not.

Lastly, of the six ‘innovators’ who managed to secure funding three of the innovators offer educational solutions. Purple Signs is a Sign language video dictionary. Nativ is a startup that engineers mobile language learning solutions for children. Lastly, RedPen is a school management software that has multiple features some of which enable parents to receive timely updates on their child’s attendance, discipline and progress in learning.

Get me clearly. I am NOT saying these startups did not deserve the funding but if the judging was done mostly by academia would they not lean towards educational based ideas as that would seem more revolutionary to them? Just a thought.

Will the second phase improve?

Experience is the best teacher and hopefully, POTRAZ has learnt a few lessons from the first phase of the Innovation Drive. Will you be applying for the second phase of the innovation drive? What do you think about the concept as well: What is POTRAZ doing well and what are they missing? Would love to hear your thoughts, so lets get talking in the comments.

Apply for funding here.


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