Open Call for Knowledge Exchange Visit to Finland

2009 July 1
by Ismail Dhorat

The Governments of Finland and South Africa have been working together in the fields of Science, Technology and Innovation, as part of that mandate SAFIPA is planning a knowledge exchange visit for South African entrepreneurs and other relevant people. Having attended several talks and met the previous finish minister that was based here, i can say the trip should be very useful.

Finland has a unique history, in 1990-1992, the country was in a deep recession which they were struggling to get out off. The economy was largely farming but less then a decade later the economy had been transformed into a knowledge economy.

When you consider the market and the population size of Finland it makes the story much more profound, they have a population of less then 5 million. You have companies like Nokia which was originally a paper producer and they transformed themselves into one of the leading telecommunications brands in the world. The story of Finland is so profound that there have been numerous case studies on how it was done, including those by Harvard business review.

I believe this knowledge exchange visit will be useful and it is open to entrepreneurs, NGO’s, Academic institutions and government agencies. The trip will be during September-October 2009 with all traveling and hotel costs covered. In addition selected participants will be given a daily allowance. A final schedule for the visit will be drafted once the participants are selected however you can look forward to:

• The opportunity to travel to Finland on a specific knowledge partnership exchange visit;
• Structured meetings with relevant ICT and innovation organisations in Finland;
• Meetings with relevant Finnish ICT business associations and software entrepreneurs;
• Visits to key R&D institutions and university faculties;
• Visits to selected high-tech science parks, as well as the Finnish tech-innovation agency (TEKES); and
• Visits to corporate R&D units (i.e. Nokia, etc)

Application Procedure:

The following information is required from prospective applicants:

1. Motivation Letter
Interested individuals are requested to submit a motivation of no more than 3 pages to SAFIPA. You need to articulate how a knowledge exchange visit to Finland can enhance your current work, as well as contribute to ICT innovation and learning in South Africa.

2. Personal Information:
a. ID information
b. Your CV
c. Letter of recommendation from your employer (not needed if an entrepreneur)

3. Organisational Information
a. Name of organisation
b. Registration information
c. Brief background of the organisation
d. Current (and future) ICT projects that may benefit from the visit

Please forward your motivation memo, as well as organisational information, to:

c/o Lorraine Shikwane
SAFIPA Programme Office

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