This year’s Technology Top 100 award programme (TT100) will be taking place at the Vodacom Dome in Midrand on November 28, with a keynote speech by Department of Science and Technology Minister Derek Hanekom. The awards will be followed by a Strategic Networking Executive Cocktail event where the finalists will have a chance to further establish their networks. South Africans are some of the most innovative developers of technology in the world – and this is what the Technology Top 100 (TT100) award programme celebrates every year. But more than just celebrating the success of South African technological innovation, the TT100 looks to encourage a culture of technological innovation and excellence in South African companies.
Launched in 1991 by the South African Engineering Association to draw attention to the importance of developing such a culture, the TT100 has evolved into one of the top business awards programmes and recognised as the Premier Business Excellence Awards in South Africa. As the showcase of technological excellence in the country, the TT100 highlights South Africa’s top technology organisations as role models to inspire fellow South Africans to emulate their achievements and in so doing it is driving growth and innovation advancement in our country.
The TT100 has enjoyed strong government endorsement since 1994, with the Department of Science and Technology emerging as the main sponsor of the awards. It renewed its commitment in 2005, and the Minister issued an official mandate to utilise the TT100 to further develop technology and innovation in South Africa by promoting South Africa’s role models for the Management of Technology and Innovation.
This partnership with the Department of Science and Technology allows the TT100 to open up significant networking channels and opportunities for all of the innovators involved. Significant private sector sponsorship has also been secured since 1997, which means that the programme holds a unique opportunity for public and private sector partnerships.
Because TT100 strives to both identify new technologies and to promote them to potential funders, it’s important to also partner with organisations that are able to walk the road with these innovators from the beginning. One such partnership is with Eskom and Industrial Development Corporation, the sponsor of the Emerging TT100 Enterprises section of the awards.
The awards seek to bridge the technology divide by promoting the emergence of black-owned technologically innovative organisations by identifying such enterprises and highlighting their achievements, and promoting the involvement of women in technologically innovative enterprises.
The Emerging Enterprises section that has seen the fastest growth since the TT100 initiated a major focus on the SME sector in 2001. This was done at the request of former President Thabo Mbeki, in line with national efforts to raise the profile of the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector, and to foster the emergence of new technology enterprises – with a very enthusiastic response from the SMEs.
The adjudication panel for TT100 is an independent and high-profile body drawn from top people in the business and public sectors of South Africa, ensuring transparency and consistency. They will be in charge of judging all the enterprises – not only on the basis of technological sophistication, but also on a set of broader criteria. These include issues such as social and environmental responsibility, as well as national priorities such as black economic empowerment, job creation and skills development. Above all, organisations should demonstrate exactly how they have commercialised an innovative process for sustainable benefit for their stakeholders.
Categories across the Emerging and Established sectors include awards for Excellence in the Management of Research, Technology, Innovation, People and Systems. The Director-General’s Award for Overall Excellence in Emerging Enterprises, the Minister’s Award for Overall Excellence in Established Enterprises, the Minister’s Award for Sustainability.
As South Africa’s benchmark of business excellence, the TT100 is raising awareness of the critical need for our companies to embrace the management of technology, innovation and people in a sustainable manner. It offers companies the opportunity to measure their achievements against the best in the country and to showcase their exciting technological initiatives to the nation, regardless of the industries they operate in.