09:30-10:00 An Outsider’s Optimism for Innovation in South Africa

Presenter: Ms Rachel Rayner, South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement

As insiders of a country, it is easy to forget the progress made and the achievements reached. It is all too easy to become disheartened by the projects that have not worked. The potential coming from South Africa’s innovative programs can be nurtured by analysing the good already achieved and building on the positivity – if this does not encourage complacency.

Let’s ignite conversations on the innovative and creative potential of South Africa with an added outside perspective. Coming in from another cultural and educational context, an outsider can see things the insider has begun to take for granted. South Africa is a fantastic space for innovation and creativity, a crucible of art, science and indigenous knowledge. This leads to advances in science, technology and beyond that may not exist in other countries.

Cross-cultural exchange can also add to the innovative potential of a society. Looking at the knowledge economy in both Australia and South Africa, the joining of these two cultures is already producing innovative ideas and each country can learn from the other.



Ms Rachel Rayner SAASTA

Rachel Rayner is a Science Communicator on assignment with Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) placed at the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA). Before moving to South Africa, she was at the Discovery Science and Technology Centre, Bendigo, Australia, where she designed and facilitated educational resources, activities, shows and events for students, teachers and visitors. She was twice selected, from an international pool of candidates, as a Science Communication Fellow with the Ocean Exploration Trust, spending time on the E/V Nautilus to share the forefront of oceanic exploration with the world.Rachel has spent over seven years in science communication, including working at Questacon – the National Science and Technology Centre in roles ranging from exhibition design, to creating innovation workshops, to producing virtual excursions via video conferencing technology. She has also traveled throughout Australia and Vietnam presenting exhibitions, shows and professional development workshops. Rachel has a keen interest in combining science and art, influenced by her Bachelor of Liberal Studies from the University of Sydney, where she majored in Physics and Art History. She carried this focus as part of the Shell Questacon Science Circus, a Graduate Diploma in Science Communication from the Australian National University.