Synergising Innovation Institutions For Water Security

Ms Shanna Nienaber
Mr Dayanandan Naidoo
Ms Gracia Munganga
Dr Henry Romam
Mr Thabo Mthombeni

Dr Henry Roman

Dr Roman holds a PhD in Biotechnology from Rhodes University, South Africa, specialising in the bioremediation of acid mine drainage.  He has completed post-doctoral fellowships at Rhodes University and the CSIR.  He has 14 years’ experience in the National System of Innovation in various roles with seven of these at the Department of Science and Technology (DST).  He has led the development of two Roadmaps related to the Green Economy ambitions of South Africa, to guide research, development and innovation in the water and waste sectors. He is responsible for the development of the first dedicated degree in Waste Management in South Africa. He also commissioned the first Green Technology Landscape Report for South Africa conducted by ASSAf, as well as the first of its kind Green R&D Investment Survey conducted by TIPS. Dr Roman also has oversight of the South African Risk and Vulnerability Atlas, an initiative of the DST. In partnership with SANBI has established the RDI Platforms for Ecological Infrastructure. Dr Roman is the current chair of the IWA-SA a division of the Water Institute of Southern Africa (WISA), in a voluntary capacity. At a younger age, he was the first Treasurer of the Young Water Professionals of South Africa.

Mr Thabo Mthombeni

Thabo is the Technology Transfer Manager at the WRC. Thabo has extensive experience in technology licensing, start-up company formation, seed capital development, innovation-based economic development initiatives and planning. Thabo began his career at the CSIR where he was involved in commercialisation for the last 10 years in Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer portfolios for the Mining, ICT and Health. Throughout his career, Thabo has been a leader in a number of major strategic initiatives focused on enhancing innovation-based business development and academic-industry collaborations. Thabo holds an Honours degree in the Risk, a Certificate in Commercialization and Licensing (University of California Davis), Technology Transfer Training from the University of Oxford (UK), a PRINCE2® Practitioner and Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Reading (UK).

Ms Gracia Munganga

Gracia is the Climate Innovation Centre Senior Manager. She studied Chemical Engineering with both a BSc and MSc. The Masters focused on integrated waste management practices in Africa and harnessing biogas from organic wastes. She is passionate about sustainability and the role the green economy can/will play in contributing to Africa’s economic development, particularly the key role renewable energy can play on the continent. She has over 6 years of combined experience in the South African waste and biogas industry which was kick-started from her work at the GreenCape Sector Development Agency in a number of different roles.

She left GreenCape to join the local office of Anaergia, a global biogas engineering and equipment manufacturer company, where she got to work on the New Horizons Waste to Energy Project (Africa’s first large scale municipal solid waste to biogas plant) and then joined The Innovation Hub as Senior Manager for the Climate Innovation Centre South Africa (CICSA). She is responsible for overseeing the operations of the CICSA and the key mandate is commercialisation of clean tech innovations in the energy, water and waste sectors. To date, some of the key achievements of the start-ups supported by the CICSA have been: R52 million investment attracted, over 80 jobs created, one international export.

Outside of work, Gracia is passionate about education and its key role in uplifting the continent, our beautiful continent Africa, tracking African entrepreneurs and their inspiring stories, good coffee and food.

Ms Shanna Nienaber

Shanna is the manager of the Implementation Unit for the Water Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) Roadmap in South Africa. The Roadmap is a partnership initiative between the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Department of Water and Sanitation and the Water Research Commission (WRC). It provides a structured framework for research, high-end skills and innovation deployment to contribute to the implementation of national policy, strategy and planning in water and sanitation resources management. Shanna has a background in Political Science and a particular research and practitioner interest in environmental governance, systems of innovation and the science-society interface.

The water research, development and innovation community are an important contributor to the pipeline of skills, solutions, technologies and innovations supporting water security. However, despite a growing openness and recognition of the importance of testing, demonstrating and implementing new solutions by the public and private sector, there are still many systemic challenges in upscaling and localising new innovations into practise.

Getting this right demands a streamlined set of institutions; robust partnerships; a sectoral culture geared towards research, innovation, new innovations and learning; incentives that encourage new entrants into the market; and an ability to test a pipeline of emerging solutions in parallel to immediate service delivery demands.

This session will take stock of some of the spaces, institutions and individuals who are helping to get this complex system to move more effectively whilst also clearly unpacking where we still have work to do. The overall intention is to come out with a set of strategic actions that need to be addressed in order to more effectively streamline the institutions that are responsible for upscaling and deploying emerging solutions that contribute to water security.

If you are a passionate about ensuring that the right solutions to water security get upscaled and implemented in the right context, or if you are part of an institution that deals with research, development and innovation issues this is a session that should not be missed!